By many, if not all accounts, romance is dead (or so I’m told).
The days of mutual attraction, sending flowers, actually TALKING to each other about your FEELINGS are kaput.
Seeking an epic love story to tell your great grandbabies of how granddad “wrote you 365 letters, every day for a year” (revolutionary, considering most in potential relationships communicate via tiny eggplants, water droplets and suggestive hand poses) even though you lived on opposite sides of the country (he, producing a clothing line made from seaweed and you, trying to figure out how to make milk that just takes like real milk without involving cows)? Unless you’re one of those infuriatingly good-looking Instagram couples who spend the entire year in Palm Springs, it’s probably unlikely.
Your best bet to finding the one in our guessing game, commitment-phobic, millennial love drought is via the app store.
Little old me – hellbent on meeting her future husband somewhere like a book store, or a cafe, or at a ball with Russian oligarchs, ballgowns and enough chandeliers to rival a Disney film set – made a solemn vow two years ago to be the ONLY person to never occupy a dating app.
The idea of sliding into a boy’s DM’s made me break out in hives.
My older sister – quick-witted, warm, vivacious – could meet a boy just about anywhere, and draw them in (and then hold their attention) whether in person or from behind a phone screen. I, on the other hand, despise small talk and, while I’d like to think I’m witty, I function best in human form, or if the other person can give a bit back. Me? I would wait for my love story.
Last week, though, bored after being set free from a semester rife with existential crises and gigantic assignments and needing something to do in the ad breaks of Masterchef, I made a Bumble account.
80% of the reasoning behind this decision was because aforementioned sister kept nagging me to just “give it a go” (even though she’s declared she wants an epic tale and will no longer grace the digital love scene with her presence) and I wanted to appease her.
20%, however, much to 17-year-old me’s chagrin, was because I was curious to see what the hype was all about – it didn’t seem as sex-crazed as Tinder, the girl initiates contact so the ball is inevitably in her court, and as a whole, people seem to be using these things for more than just a quick root on a Thursday night as a means of procrastinating exam prep.
I would just like to clarify (MUM), 0% of my reasoning was to find love – I was here, as many profiles state, for a
good what’s-all-the-hype-about time, not a long time.
And yet – love, the kind that makes you feel like you’re stranded at the top of a ferris wheel, that makes you want to write a song and slaps a smile across your face so you constantly look like a total gimp – is exactly what I found. On a dating app, of all places.
I was, as I assumed, completely underwhelmed. I’m still a total cynic when it comes to these things. Romance isn’t dead, it just needs a revolution. I’m still going to wait for my story.
But my time in the bee hive made for some interesting observations – and if not a soul mate, these are the things I did find:
Nothing in life is a greater catfish than the capacity of sunglasses to change someone’s entire appearance. With Ray Bans on, they look like Malibu Ken. Take them off, and it’s like somebody’s pressed their eyeballs into the back of their head with an electric screwdriver.
When it comes to group photos, one of three situations occur. The first: all images on their profile are group shots, featuring the same revolving cast of faces, meaning if there’s an attractive one among them, you’ve got about a 1 in 10 chance of him being the profile-ee. The second scenario, quite similar to the first: a single picture of a pair of boys is the only one featured, meaning you have to make the split second decision whether the odds will be in your favour (chances are, they won’t) and the more attractive of the two is the profile-ee (and if it’s worth the risk if it isn’t him). And the third and final situation, by far the worst: you’re swiping away like there’s no tomorrow, convinced only ugly trolls are what’s on offer, when a strapping young lad in a group photo finally catches your eye. You swipe to the next photo, and it turns out he’s just being used as bait to draw you in (and swipe left on the first picture), and his friend with the turned eye and southern cross tattoo is the one actually on the market.
The inundation of grainy profile images mean that the second you swipe to reveal a high resolution one that hasn’t been shot in the seedy underbelly of a pale, seemingly still pubescent boy’s bathroom (where he is swathed in little more than a towel), you nearly swipe left from shock alone.
Speaking of – flash photography is a cool and unforgiving master. In the first image, strategic lighting and an arty filter make him semi-decent. Swipe down though, and it’s a whole other story – pale, greasy strands of hair (not the salt-water threaded tendrils from picture numero uno), and pupils you’d need a search party to find because he’s so hopped up on pingers, courtesy of the snap happy photographer at The Fox last Sunday night.
Nine out of ten boys favour that typical mirror shot where their arms are flexed aggressively in the hope of seeming masculine and their hands are just shy (or are) touching their private parts.
Occupations range from “scientist”, “civil engineer” and “teacher” to true legacy careers (and just the kind you’d obviously marry for): McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, and my personal, equally ominous favourites, “entertainer” and “self-employed” (one pearler of a bio reading “aspiring male stripper looking for voluntary work with you”).
Inexplicably, pictures with children. I don’t care if they’re yours (as some proudly confess, because they don’t care either) – I’m not willing to stick around long enough to find out.
And finally, in no particular order, things that make me want to die inside and be sick in my mouth simultaneously: ear piercings, nipples hanging out of singlets, photos from modelling portfolios, racist/homophobic/sadist slurs, neck tattoos, and bios that range from “I just want a girl I can go to museums with” (ah, how about you just go to a museum and find one then?) to “Here to find that one special girl who I can take on cute dinner dates, open the car door for and treat like my princess. Manager at a hospitality venue, owner of a scented candle business, outgoing, down-to-earth, ambitious and goal-focused but also fun” (may as well have gone with “you can call me Daddy”, because this is just as bad).