I’m a 33-year-old English guy that happens to live in Australia. Born in the 80s to a working-class family — home was a fairly rural and somewhat gritty area. Our 20-inch TV, which resembled a small cabinet along with our trusty VHS player, was, well the cornerstone of my childhood. Fast forward 25 years or so years and here we are.
Technology has well and truly advanced. Perhaps Skynet and Judgement Day doesn’t seem so silly anymore, does it?
The kid once sprawled on a pink shag pile rug wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pyjamas back in 1992 is sometimes at a loss to it all. Especially when it comes to our new era of online dating. (Or specifically, Tinder.).
I’m currently in a very happy relationship but around 4 years ago I became single when my then partner left me. Hard times followed and I well and truly had my own little ‘pity party’. At this time a roommate observed this debacle and suggested I download and set up a Tinder profile. My initial reaction was to dislike his suggestion. However, after 2 more drinks, I was downloading the app and my friend was helping me source suitable profile photos. He showed me how it worked, we swiped right, and I then forgot the whole episode and went to bed. The following day upon opening the app again low and behold I had acquired 12 matches and 5 women had sent me greetings. ‘Wow,’ I thought, somebody out there still must find me attractive and may or may not want to sleep with me.
My first arranged ‘date’ was an odd affair. Lucy came across as a fun-loving cool chick that had a nice sense of humour, her photos depicted her as a gym-loving brunette with a couple of tattoos, a fluffy dog and youthful glow. We arranged to meet one night and go for a drink in my local neighbourhood. To cut a long story short we met and well, Lucy was not as I imagined or anything like her pictures either. It is still a little mystery to me but all I can say is that Lucy’s online profile was a great work of fiction. She was not like the girl I had been messaging.
To put into context, imagine ordering the fish chowder next time you are out and having the waiter then bring you a rare blood dripped T-bone steak.
Our conversation was slow and quite one-sided, mostly about her little dog, Timmy. Yes, I remembered its name.
For some time later I was quite put off by the whole episode, but within a couple of weeks or so I had decided to give it another go. This time I experienced another harsh aspect: the fun game of messaging back and forth and then completely out of the blue…nothing. No reply. Nada. This isn’t really cool now, is it? You believe you are building rapport and then it just ends. Abruptly. You send a few messages to entice a reply but the more you do the more you die inside.
One example was a girl I was messaging, and she suddenly does this. I am then out one night and I see her and she sees me. I act cool and decide that I won’t ignore her, but I won’t initiate a face-to-face conversation unless she approaches me. She doesn’t. The following day though she messages me.
“Oh, hey sorry I don’t look at this much”, hmmm right. “Would you like to catch up for some wine next week”.
The girl has got me, as I am quite the lover of fermented grape juice especially anything French. I message back and we arrange a Wednesday night date the following week with an undefined time. And guess what. POOF. She has disappeared, again.
So, where does this leave a ‘Xennial’ like me? Fully embracing social media but still half remembering a time when it wasn’t there. If you wanted to contact someone you either went and found them or rang their house and asked their mum if they were in. I am still a little lost when it comes to finding romance, and definitely not a romantic in any sense. Yet surely this level of interaction isn’t healthy as a society? I remember often a Sherlock Holmes quote,
“No man burdens his mind with matters unless he has some very good reason for doing so”
And I didn’t have one. I certainly didn’t cry myself to sleep over the ‘wine girl’ or seek counselling for my encounter with Lucy, but it did leave me feeling a tad deflated and jaded — ultimately with romance in the modern-day.
Since then I have decided words and face-to-face encounters are the way I want to play it. If I see someone in the flesh that looks and sounds of interest then I will put my best foot forward, more than often aided by a beer or two. With this new attitude, I have had more frank and real conversations with girls who don’t flake or simply disappear like Harold Houdini’s handcuffs. It’s also how I met my fantastic partner — who I now get to wake up next to every day.
I do miss that shag pile rug and 1992 though.
Words by Alex Mitcheson