My parents do not exactly have the love and marriage that will set anyone’s mind on fire. They never had a photogenic marriage. Back when I was a kid, I would dread the fights, yelling and throwing of things. There were little quarrels that happened along the way and they never mattered, but the major ones seemed curiously to fall in July every year. It was like peak season.
They met young, through my dad’s colleague, who happened to be my mom’s friend. Funny story, this friend of hers had already taken a liking to my dad. When he asked her for my mom’s number, she gave it to him all jumbled up. Cunning, but it didn’t stop him from figuring out the permutation. He belonged to a generation of pagers and payphones. So if you really wanted a girl that much, you had to work your way through, even if it meant solving a mathematical riddle to do so.
It’s all good at home now, and even though their turbulent relationship made me question the idea of marriage, I’m grateful anyway. But my point is, technology has made it too easy for courtship. A guy once called me for two seconds only because he wanted me to read his text. You see, texting is often seen as a bare-minimum form of communication, even if it’s for expressing heartfelt sentiments or just to say “hi”.
The ’90s saw kids messing around with AOL and ICQ dating sites, and today, we have an STD support group called Positive Singles (unusual, but yes); Spoonr, a location-based app for uh, cuddling; HeyMeet, an app that forces two to meet within six hours; and Tinder, which obviously requires no explanation. I can’t say much about Positive Singles, nor can I see any credit in cuddling with a stranger. And while I wouldn’t mind meeting a new friend for coffee, I can see why people have grown weary of dating apps like Tinder, where the romance has quickly been swiped off. A friend is one of them. She has had enough bad Tinder dates to last a lifetime, so she says.
“It was a nightmare,” she lamented when I enquired about her last date. “Right from the get-go, he told me he didn’t like short girls, that 158cm was way too short. But you know, I’m a 154. I thought he was a real a**, but I thought, let’s see what this guy’s really like.
“When we met, it didn’t seem so bad. He seemed like a gentleman. But it wasn’t until we sat down for dinner when everything went downhill. Conversation fell flat – I’m chatty and it was always me talking. I paid for half the dinner and when we moved on to drinks, he asked if I was ok if he smoked. Before I could reply, he said, ‘Oh I don’t really care what you think anyway.’”
Perhaps he really had zero social etiquette, but you would think he’s just another fisherman, you know, reeling in his catch. As with Tinder and everything else, all he needs to do is drop a line in the water and hope for a nibble. I wouldn’t say I’m entirely right. There are fairy tales I know of, but how often do they happen?
As a result of today’s world of unromantic tech speak, I found myself signed up for a social networking session over Christmas. I wasn’t too excited about it but it proved to be rather fun. Like orientation on the first day of school, you know absolutely nobody. You’re forced to be with people, to make conversation and play silly games. I used to think that people there were desperate for romance. Maybe no sparks flew, but it sure didn’t seem like it. They were genuine and I could tell most of them were there just for the fun of it.
I had always resisted such an activity, but for once, I thought it was refreshing. No one got swiped left, and hey, at least I didn’t leave with a bad story to tell.
In Primary 5, when ICQ was the rage, Hannah and her classmates would spend hours in the computer lab trolling strangers on the Internet. Nothing R-rated of course. Well, not that they knew how to.