Week 33: Calling in Tech Reinforcement [Score +63]
I’ve been dragging my feet on both writing this post and doing the actual activity: I created a profile on Bumble.
For the last eight months, I’ve been taking advantage of opportunities, stepping out to try new activities, and meeting lots of great, new people. I’ve made new friends, and I’ve developed a better appreciation for my hometown and all it has to offer.
All of this lines up perfectly with my mission for this whole year. But it has also drawn into sharper focus the fact that I do a lot of things alone.
I don’t mind being alone; in fact, I relish it. Many times, though, I would prefer to have someone to take along with me, someone who doesn’t have to get home to their husband, kids, or partner.
Part of me has hoped that by meeting a host of new people this year, it would help me meet a male Someone the Old Fashioned Way. You know: where you’re in the same room, someone notices the other, you introduce yourselves over a common interest, and find your way into an easy conversation. No apps or internet required.
My friend, Lily, finally snapped me out of it when I said as much to her. “Amanda,” she said, “times have changed. We’re not old-fashioned anymore.”
She’s right. I do still believe it’s possible to meet new friends and partners the old fashioned way—and who knows, maybe I will tomorrow—but Lily was right about me needing to stop using it as an excuse to avoid putting more concerted effort into finding a partner of my own.
Critics of apps like Tinder or Bumble point to the split-second judgments users are making on a person’s photo as encouraging superficiality: you can decide very quickly if you want to pass and keep swiping through hundreds of potential matches. While I see their point—we want to think that we judge a potential mate by their inside beauty, after all—I really don’t think it’s all that different from running into a person at a grocery store or bar.
Whether we like the idea or not, our primal biology directs us to seek a mate who looks like they have good genes to pair with our own. We make that first-level determination based on appearance then decide whether they merit further consideration.
So, is looking at photos on a phone all that different than scanning faces across the room at a wedding reception—or Neanderthal campfire?
The first real wave of socially accepted online dating sites featured complex profiles and algorithms that *supposedly* matched you with suitable people. I didn’t have tremendous success with it (I’m writing this today, after all), and it was painfully labor-intensive.
Bumble is one of the dating apps du jour, and it’s blessedly simple to set up: connect your Facebook profile for verification, upload a few photos, write a few sentences for a profile, and you’re on. You’re presented with a string of potential matches with a photo, name, age, and brief profile, on which you swipe up to see more, swipe left to pass, or swipe right to say you’re interested. If the person on the other side also swipes right on you, you’re matched and can start chatting. The distinguishing feature of Bumble is that it places the responsibility for first message in the hands of the woman (in a heterosexual match). Men have to wait for the door to be opened.
As a natural organizer, I subconsciously developed my own Bumble system and process: 1. Scroll through a handful of profiles for a few minutes, swiping left and right. 2. When I’ve collected a couple matches, move to the message center. 3. Send a short introduction and comment about something in their profile. 4. If they answer back, judge the response as either worth responding to or not. 5. If I’m lucky, a conversation begins.
I’ve seen the good (intelligent, attractive, capable of holding a conversation and not just talking about himself), the boring (sooooo many frowning, gym-mirror selfies), and the disturbing (the guy who decided the bloody photo of him having his tongue split made a good profile pic). Thankfully, the boring and good outnumber the disturbing.
One guy, so far, has been worth meeting in person, and I’m relieved to say that the meetup was entirely positive. We met for coffee in downtown Indianapolis and took a walk while we chatted, an approach I’d definitely use again. Talking with someone—whether a date, colleague, friend, or stranger—while walking relieves some of the pressures of face-to-face conversation. It immediately makes people more relaxed.
Regardless of whether that first meetup will lead to anything more, I consider it a good start.
Wish me luck.
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1
- Activity benefits my health/wellbeing: +1
- Signed up for an activity without knowing anyone else involved: +2
- Had a conversation with a stranger of at least 30 seconds: +2
- Had a conversation with a stranger beyond basics (i.e., work, hometown, what’s your dog’s name): +2
- Learned someone’s name: +3
- Made plans for a meetup afterward with a straight, age-appropriate, eligible man: +50