Back in the day, before the internet, social media and phones that did more than actually make phone calls, dating was a world I didn’t really understand. I never have done really. I never knew how to meet people. At times I’m shy to the point of catatonic breakdown, and I still never really know what to say to strangers. I’m not great at small talk.
Night clubs were the only place I had to meet fellow members on the journey of life, love and soul mates. Have you ever tried having a conversation in a night club? I spent the better part of my 20’s nodding cluelessly as guys would mouth what a assumed were words, beneath a heavy base beat blasting from speakers by the side of the stage.
I was at a family Christmas lunch recently and was talking to my much younger cousin about mobile phone apps. I mentioned that back in my telecommunications days, when I worked as a switch bitch in the customer service centre for one of Australia’s biggest telco’s, I was on a team that was developing customer service strategies for this new, whizz bang product called W.A.P.
This was back in the early 2000’s. W.A.P was Wireless Application Protocol and it’s was set to be the next “Big Thing.” It meant that on certain phones you’d be able to access your email. None of us in that room could have conceived how much W.A.P would eventually grow, and how it would change the face of communications. I don’t think any of us had the vision to expect anything more than a more modern version of Snake (an old game on the Nokia phones) to be the best outcome possible.
When I look at how far technology has come in next to no time, it’s no wonder we now do everything on our phones except make phone calls. Banking, reading the news, imparting our own important opinions on social media. It’s a different world out there. It’s a different world in your pocket.
One of the changes I find most amusing is the development of the gay dating apps. Now I say gay dating apps, because they’re the only ones I have any experience in using. I assume the straight dating apps are the same. Gays don’t have a monopoly on late night conversations.
I have a love/hate relationship with the dating app. I see their value. And I see that they could be good fun but I’ve reached the age where I don’t fit in with the main users of the services and want something different to the 99 per cent of guys who’ve talked to me on them.
During a conversation a few weeks ago, it was pointed out that my profile had too many words on it. It was suggested that I change the profile to read “Boyfriend away.” Now, the main problem I had with that was I don’t have a boyfriend, and to be honest, I’m looking for one. Husband Hunting is the motto for 2015. Anyway, after a couple of drinks we decided it would be funny to see what happened. I was of the stance that nothing would happen. My friend took the opposing view, that I would suddenly become Cinderella.
Within less than 5 minutes of reloading the app, creating the new text and uploading an anonymous photo I had 15 messages from various people, all wanting to just say “hello.” It was an odd experience. A few weeks later, I changed my profile picture again, this time to my swimming pool. It was hot weather, and the pool looked great. I changed the text to my name, age and serial number and again, the messages flooded in. A rather scary percentage of nothing more than words to the effect of “Hi, I’m ready for a swim” along with a photograph of the person in their best birthday, swimming, suit.
I decided after a while to change the profile picture back to one of my face. The messages dried up completely. Not only that, I was blocked by several people with whom I was having conversations. I waited a week, and nothing happened. The people I was talking to stopped talking, and no one new responded. So I put the pool picture back. This time with the heading “Fat Old Bear.”
Two weird things happened. Well, one weird, one just plain annoying. The flood of messages came back, singles, couples, young, old, all invariably creating stimulating conversation like “hi, I’m horny”, or “hi, it’s really hot, want to go swimming, I’ll be naked.” The other thing that happened was I got flash flooded with offers for sex for payment. Apparently Fat Old Bear is code for “I have a bulging belly, and bulging bank account and would like nothing more than to pay you for your time.”
All of this got me thinking about attempting to date in the current age. I used to complain when I was younger that it was hard to meet people. It probably wasn’t. I was just a tit with low self esteem so whenever anyone spoke to me I automatically got the whole “fuck off, what do you want” attitude and posture happening.
I highly doubt that dating in any form is “easier” now. I’ve heard a lot of people my age say that dating apps have taken the romance out of dating. But to that I call, bullshit. It hasn’t taken away anything at all. It’s made it easier to hook up true, but only because the crowded, smelly, smoke filled nightclub now lives in your pocket 24 hours and day, 7 days a week. You no longer have to put on your sexiest, sluttiest clothes – yes, I used to dress like a club bunny in the 90’s/00’s – and spend a fortune on drinks in the hope of having fun. Now, you just log onto your phone.
The art of conversation people talk about is also bullshit. We didn’t have conversations in clubs and pubs. You couldn’t be heard for the most part. You drank and you danced and flirted your way into situations. Now, you sit on a comfortable chair and answer text messages.
If you’re looking for love, or husband hunting, gay dating apps probably aren’t the way to go about it. If you’re looking for a hook up, they probably do the right job, only without the benefits of last drinks and appropriate lighting.
For me, at my age, I don’t think gay dating apps are the way to find a husband. I’m not overly sure how one finds a husband anyway. What I do know is they’re not going to come knocking on your door, and if you put down “conversation and long term relationship” as what you’re looking for on an app, you’re destined to be talking to the cats for the rest of your life.