Thursday, 17 July 2014
In this fast-paced world of information technology and ubiquitous upgrades, survival of the fittest depends on our ability to keep up with the ever-changing times. It’s a mutinous battlefield out there where the old and faithful are often replaced with new and shinier versions of the same gizmo designed to make our lives simpler, better and sometimes faster. Walk-men, wedding invitations, VHS, vinyl and print media. All it takes is one generation to render another obsolete, and while most things in this digital day and age are as quickly discarded as they are packed, shelved and sold, how does one remain relevant within these rapid waves of innovation?
It’s a tale as old as the floppy disk: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy has mid-life crisis and cheats on wife with younger woman. Boy leaves wife for younger home-wrecker who in turn leaves him for someone richer and older, until one day it’s too late for him to realise that he made the biggest mistake of his life. Unlike modern-day technology, some men are incapable of advancing into higher forms of intelligence. They become temporarily blinded by visions of their former youths, a fantasy that got lost somewhere along the way as a result of being with you. Like Blu Ray, they require something a bit more visually stimulating, and even though the clarity of a care-free single life sounds far more appealing, it’s only a matter of time before they realise they’ve: same shit, different package.
In a perfect world the ex would die a lonely death and call for you at his deathbed whispering regrets about you being the best thing that ever happened to him, but in reality, being tossed aside and traded in for a newer, younger model can have devastating side-effects. Not only is your confidence and self-esteem tried and questioned, but for the first time in a long time, you find yourself alone in a dating matrix that now seems so foreign to you; a digital space where conventional modes of courtship no longer seem current.
Friday night at the Ruby Bar brought together all sorts of fabulous gays and gals, single, coupled and aged between 28 and 40. It was happy hour which meant cocktails were cheap and conversation was dirty. By the time I sank into my third glass of Boschendal Blanc de Noir, the conversation had switched over to something called Tinder. At first I thought they were talking about Ke$ha and Pitbull’s latest single, but it didn’t take long before I realised exactly what was app...
“It’s the heterosexual version of Grinder, love. The mobile dating application? You have heard of it, right? It came out the same time Ricky Martin did.”
My gayest of all Minute-Maid Marcy, had just opened my eyes and ears into another dimension. To me, it seemed like online dating on steroids but to hopeful singles everywhere, it was an addictive catalyst to one-night stands, promising potentials and even second chances. I couldn't believe it. Some genius had actually created a smart phone app that could detect respective homo and heterosexual prospects within a specific radius of one’s location. And you could pinpoint them too! A mosaic of bite-sized profiles divided into tribes and groups, likes and dislikes, dating expectations and chat windows, complete with a mini-visual all for your convenience.
“Yip. This is what it’s come down to. It's fun at first but it can also get tiring.” I had met Sasha that evening, a 40-year old divorcee, professional athlete who reminded me of Carrie Bradshaw. She’s one of those many incredible gals that leaves you wondering, ‘how the hell can you still be single?’ “The worst is when you start chatting to a guy you like prior to any kind of real date. You start chatting, and really hit it off and you probably start liking him a bit more than you should, only for him to do a complete Houdini on your ass. Poof. Like that. Gone. That’s when you realise that you were probably one of ten chicks he was chatting to. Don’t worry. Online rejection is nowhere near as bad as the real thing.”
Had online dating evolved into the next generation making traditional dating conventions dated and prehistoric? Were such high-tech modifications easy to adapt to and if so, how does one navigate through all the lies and bullshit? My knowledge on the subject was clearly limited to the online horror stories I’d read about catfish killers and NSA PDA’s in the back of rusty Chevrolets, but perhaps there was more than meets the "i". Was it more than just sex? Did conventional dating methods need to evolve in order to survive? Could we really find love in a cyber space?
Marcy and Kevin did. Lauren and Jerry did. "I know it seems daunting and very new age for most people especially the older generations but anyone that can send an sms can certainly mac this shit. It's all about adapting. Old-school dating is like Betamax. It's Vintage." Oh Marcy. "I know the perception out there is that it's all about sex, which it can be, but it really is what you want it to be. Our first conversation on Grinder went something like this: "Hey. Musc? Yeah. *Dick Pic* Hook up? Fuck yeah. Cum over!" For real. And now look at us. Three years down the line, still going strong and couldn't be happier."
When it comes to being single in a digital world, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was the download?