“Are you interested in spiritually inclined younger men?” My recent tinder match asked.
This question is still going around in my mind. I installed Tinder because my friends insisted that I should experience the wonder of digital dating. They lured me, so much so that I came out of my bubble, and attempted to find the “perfect match” with this wonder app. So I installed Tinder, and made my profile with a beautiful photo of Virginia Woolf and some other fictional details. I was hoping that no one will be interested. I would wake up and just delete the app. Everything will be alright again.
But, I was in for a surprise! While most of the people look for connection, I was looking for distraction. While the men I talked with desperately tried to connect, I spanned around with my ornate words and avoided giving away any information that relates to the actual life I am living. You see, I have had “amazing” experiences with stalkers before.
Within minutes of poking around, messages started to flow. The first conversation kind of sums up all the conversations I have had through this cutting-edge-cupid. I guess the wording of the app makes casual sexist intonations seem almost natural.
Guy 1: How old are you? Is that your photo?
Me: I am not young and yes, it could be my photo. Why do you ask?
Guy1: Do you know what this app is for?
Me: to make new friends and to understand human being?
Guy 1: Nope. It's a dating app.
Guy1: people come here to find willing sex partner.
Guy 1: For pleasure.
Me: They are not making babies?
Guy1: No. Are you a virgin?
I talked with six men in total. None of them recognized the famous portrait of Virginia Woolf. I caught myself feeling disappointed. Then I asked myself whether I was really expecting to have those amazing conversations about literature. Realizing that I was not being “authentic”... they were disappointed too.
One of them told me that he would like to take me out for lunch this weekend. I told him that I do not enjoy daylight.
Within a few hours, I had to delete the account to regain my sanity. I realized that did not enjoy human attention for longer than an hour.
What bothered me most about these little bizarre conversations is how desperately we were trying to make a connection.
Are we really that lonely?
Going back to the spiritual question... how do you judge someone's spiritual growth while swiping right and left on Tinder? How do you decide who to talk to?
We are all very busy with our own drama, new gadgets, shiny spouses or love affairs, parties, gossips, careers, the next big thing, yoga, green smoothie, bitcoin, the next shag... oh, so many things! But then again, once in a blue or red moon, we do some soul/Google searching. We type, “love poem of Rumi” and find the apt quote that resonates with our latest crush, and then copy-paste it as our social media status. Despite out fast-track life, we are still trying to connect through poetry. Is it just to flaunt our pseudo-intellectual understanding of love? Or, is it the urge of our soul's desire to find a possible meaningful connection?
Is this the definition of urban intimacy? If we are just looking for a Tinder ride, why bother with the spiritual question? I am in no position to judge while breathing in the same polluted air as everyone, but I keep searching for an explanation. While I was growing up, there was no Tinder, no Facebook nor Snapchat. There were very few photographs, or phone conversations, or everyday updates. When I was young, people used to exchange photographs for marriage proposals, one photograph used to decide the fate of two individuals/families. Are we back in that time again?
Our urban lifestyle is entangled with different kinds of silence. My favourite is “elevator silence” where we stand close to strangers (neighbours often) and can't wait to get off the small box. The best we can do is give those lip pressed nods, smile and pray to the angels so the ride is over as soon as possible.
Why can't we connect to strangers in person but we can easily evaluate them via the plasma display of glossy phone screens? What is so scary about another stranger that we need to hide in our own rooms, and throw ourselves into an abyss of confusion?
Our tender hearts are so afraid to be vulnerable that we would rather give a chance to an app than an actual human being. What are the “mechanical” odds?
Jessica Sharmin is a photographer, poet, and dreamer.