Where did we go so wrong with love, sex and communication?

So I found an interesting article in Vanity Fair – their features are always great reads.

When I had finished reading it, a great sorrow and sadness took position in my mind and heart.

Even I was surprised by the intensity of my feelings.  Can just reading an article do that to anyone – or me? I know the power of great writing. The number of books on my shelves are ample evidence of that.  (Here is another great story in the New Yorker, written by Ceridwen Dovey, who asks Can reading make you happier? Nice one!)

But the cause of my sorrow and wistfulness was this article here: Tinder and the dawn of the Dating Apocalypse.  It is a well-observed and researched essay about the use of Tinder (a dating app) in some New York clubs.  The author chatted to many not-that-young men and women about their perceptions on Tinder. “They say they think their own anxiety about intimacy comes from having “grown up on social media,” so “we don’t know how to talk to each other face-to-face.”” Intricate code and algorithm decide who is a 84% of 39% of 0% match for you. What hogwash.

I may seem ancient in many adolescents and young adults’ views.  I probably am ancient – even in my own view.  But let me enlighten you: I have been on Tinder myself, until about two weeks ago.  That, dear reader, was not the only app this woman was active on.  EliteSingles, OkCupid, Tinder, even the Afrikaans platform, Vrynet.  The question is: how do you meet other single people in South Africa, where you cannot go out in the evenings, and where you can easily be assaulted in your own home? My kids are grown-up and I have time for myself again.  Alas, it may be too late by the look of dating apps on our phones and computers.

Then abruptly, two weeks ago, I was overcome by a disgust and annoyance about my own silliness.  This followed shortly on the heels of a salvo of passionate emails from a so-called eco-toxicologist who loves his work as much as a hobby.  It slowly dawned on me that he was intermittently using a professional email-writer, and the content would hobble between broken English exclamations and beautiful prose.

After I have read the above-mentioned article, I thought about my own student days of dating. Gosh, was there ever anything more exciting than that? Having been dated by a guy (studying agriculture) after he patiently waited for you to get out of class?  “Would you like to go to the movies?”  Yes, yes, please! An hour of pampering and dolling-up followed, the door-bell rang, and out you went. When he safely returned you home, you shared your first kiss under the porch-light, and you struggled to fall asleep because off the butterflies in your tummy.  “Is he the one, The One?”  The forever guy who you will marry and be happily forever?

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I am not naive or stupid or too old to know that fairy-tales are just that: fairy-tales. I am also not saying that all women have to fall head-over-heels in love, spend their searching for The One, or view marriage as their only destiny in life.

But I feel sad for my daughters, and for millions of other beautiful, clever, educated or non-educated, capable and sassy girls (and men!) who will never know that breathless excitement of proper romance.  Where another person thinks that you are the sun and moon and stars … Because of stupid Tinder and the ridiculous dawn of the dating apocalypse.

I cannot help but be convinced that the Internet, while fantastic, has cost us dearly.  We have lost the need and skill of communication. Of getting to know another person.  Of intense eye-locks over bubbly with candlelight. Of wondering if he is going to kiss you. Of getting a partner who will be your best friend, who will support you, who will be on your side.  Even if only for a while.

I would have wanted that for every girl in the world, instead of being swiped to the right (or left), have sex with someone whose name you do not know, of getting up and on to the next swipe.  All while yearning for long, intimate discussions and conversations and eye contact.

What have we done to ourselves in the name of lust and need for another person?

I don’t like Tinder or Grindr or whatever.  Not one bit.  If God wants me to get a romantic partner, it will not be through Tinder.

God himself or herself will then have to deliver him to my front door, but I need proper, old-fashioned communication and falling-in-love and romance.