People, in general, are selfish, shallow, greedy. People lie, they cheat, and they steal. These are among a number of grievances I hold towards people. What’s interesting however, is that these same grievances rarely ever carry over to the individual. A person, for all intents and purposes remains separate from the collective. A person has his or her emotions, hopes, dreams, wants, desires and so on. It is the complexity of these and other emotions that literally removes a person from the collective and creates an individual. It’s the reason that one might say he loves his family, but can’t stand Uncle Bob, or how one can say he loves his mother but isn’t very fond of his family. There is a disconnect between a person and the collective, which isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s a great thing. A person is quite alright, but basically, people suck.
Take for example, dating websites and phone apps. For the purpose of this blog I’ll use Tinder as an example. Theoretically Tinder is designed to connect you to other single people for dates, love, and whatnot. You upload 5 pictures of yourself and try to wrap up your identity into just a couple of sentences in a bio section that will more often than not, go unread. The issue with Tinder isn’t so much the idea of Tinder itself, or any dating app for that matter. The problem lies in the fact that it causes individuals to join the collective. During a face to face encounter we are generally polite to one another, and hold legitimate conversations. If you ask a person to describe his or her perfect mate to you, the responses are overwhelmingly related to personality traits. “I want someone who makes me laugh” or “I’m looking for someone that will go on adventures with me” are two popular responses I’ve seen, personally. In essence, if you ask a reasonable individual to give you a reasonable answer to what he or she is looking for, the responses are typically of a personal, connective nature. We respond with attributes that describe who would best fit us emotionally, and ignore, for the most part, physicality.
In the collective, however aesthetics rule. When one logs into Tinder he stops being an individual and joins the collective. The anonymity of Tinder allows an individual to plug directly into the collective. We’ve convinced ourselves into believing that we’re searching for our “partner in crime”, the one that will “make us laugh” but it is an illusion. On average, about 3 seconds is spent reviewing each new Tinder “flame” before swiping left or right. A guy (or girl) pops up, and a judgement is made almost instantaneously as to whether or not he is attractive enough to even converse with you. Swipe left, swipe right, and the cycle continues until it’s a never ending game of “Hot or Not” — Who is worthy enough to speak with me? Personality is cast aside when it comes to Tinder, at least until the initial match is made.
It should be noted that this is not a judgement, but merely an observation. I’m guilty of it, and so are you. It’s not your fault, we are all part of a collective. We are, after all, all people. It’s just that the advent of the internet, and with it Tinder, it is becoming increasingly difficult to transition between your collective self, and your individual self. The internet removes the personal interactions that build bonds, create friendships, trust, etc. and once you’re plugged into the web, it’s hard to unplug. A collective of over 3 billion people, all shouting for attention, and that’s the problem. On the internet, you’re anonymous. The only unique thing about you on the internet is your IP address.
I don’t mean to imply that the internet, Tinder, or any dating service is some sort of terrible popularity contest. What I’m trying to convey is that we, as individuals, have allowed the collective to dictate how we approach dating. It’s incredibly difficult to make a true connection to a person via the internet. The pressure is great, and attention-spans are low. You’re no longer yourself, you’re simply one of 3 billion people. All hope is not lost, however. The last time I checked people still went outside. Try saying hello to the person standing in line behind you, start a conversation with a stranger at school. Online dating can work too, I’ve friends that are in successful relationships that started via some dating application or another. The difference is that they “swiped right”, and eventually pulled back from the collective and revealed their individual selves. The bottom line is that if you’re looking for love, be an individual, don’t be people, because people suck. Swipe right.