Tinder + Hinge + the ubiquitous ‘market’ = “accidental hell”

1.

I wrote a few days ago about being “on the market” again.

That night was strange. Abhay and I met up at Bonobo, where I was approached by both a girl and a guy in the space of 40 minutes. It was weirdly flattering. Was it me? I don’t think so. Maybe it was the music (Konstantin was just sublime that night, and music, as we all know, can make people feel and behave differently).

The story, as far as 101 India is concerned, ends there.

But the night didn’t.

After Bonobo, we headed to the Daily. It was a Thursday night, so the DJ was playing “commercial” music — in this case, a wonderful boozy blend of Top 40 and dancehall (I love dancehall).

There was a woman there at the bar, near us. Every guy there had his eyes on her. She was hot — sweaty, sensual. Her damp, dark hair clung to her forehead and her shoulders. Her tiny top (I think it was white?) stuck to her shoulders and her back and her other bits. There was nothing left to the imagination.

Abhay and I did our best to ignore her. We weren’t there to use our imaginations. We were just there to hang.

The two of us were standing at the bar, facing the other way from this woman. We were two ‘underground music’ guys pretending we weren’t having a great time at on a ‘commercial’ night.

I leaned over to buy another round from the bar, and when I turned around, I saw something wonderful.

I turned around, with a beer in my hand, and I saw Abhay, standing there, just like he’d been a second ago.

But something was different. The something was the woman. She was clinging to Abhay. Attached to him. Like a creeper to a tree; a python seductively squeezing the life out of its prey.

This woman — she must have been a lingerie model on a night out, or something. She was clinging to Abhay, whispering sweet nothings in his ear.

I turned around, and noticed this happening, and tried to play it cool. Abhay was certainly playing it cool. He hadn’t tensed up. He was nice and relaxed and casual — like this kind of thing happens to him every day.

So while he was handling the lingerie model, I turned back towards the DJ and kept wobbling to the wonderful dancehall music.

And we stayed that way for about 15 minutes.

Then the lingerie model — she whispered one final thing to Abhay, and then I think she may have kissed him on the cheek, and then she left.

So then I went up to Abhay and said to him: “dude, what the fuck just happened?”

And he said: “I don’t know man,” in that casual, unconcerned drawl of his.

So I said: “Why was she clinging to you? Who was that girl? What just happened?”

Then he said: “That chick just came up to me, and grabbed me, and told me that some other guy was creeping on her, so she decided to pretend I was her boyfriend for 15 minutes, so that he’d leave her alone.”

Then I said: “Oh.”

And we left it at that.

2.

Then we went outside, stunned, to have a beer and digest this whole incident.

And as we looked for a bench to chill on, another girl pointed to me and said: “You’re hot!”

So I said to her: “Thanks! So are you! So’s your friend. I think it’s great that there are so many hot people here. Don’t you!”

She giggled. Abhay and I sat down, and tried to figure what the hell was happening. This night, man. This weird and wonderful Thursday night. It didn’t feel like real life.

3.

Anyway, this story isn’t a humblebrag. At least, it’s not just a humblebrag.

The point I’m trying to discuss here actually has more to do with dating apps.

This night, this anecdote, illustrates how sometimes, when you’re just trying to be single (like I was), or be faithful to your girlfriend (like Abhay was), shit just happens to you anyway.

Even when you’re not looking for shit to happen, it does.

4.

But here’s the thing about Tinder and Hinge and all of those other digital crutches that allow us to search for love through the ether of the Internet.

By bypassing the flesh and blood and sweat and cocktails of the real world, they they allow us to never be truly single again, if we don’t want to.

We can permanently be available, on the hunt, on the prowl, in the market.

And that’s — I don’t know. I don’t want to say it’s a bad thing. But it’s certainly not a good thing.

5.

With breakups, before, there was a process. There were stages. First, you broke up. Then you were miserable. Then you realised you had to move on. So you went to a bar or a party and you tried to talk to someone cute. And you failed, at being attractive, because you were miserable, but you were masking it.

So you went home, and accepted that you were miserable. You didn’t shave. You just drank for a while. A few weeks.

But then you stopped drinking. You shaved. You hit the gym. You toned up. And you hung with your friends, and you re-discovered how fun and awesome and thoughtful and intelligent they all are.

And you started to have fun. Not with strangers. Not romantic fun. But good, old-fashioned fun.

Fun without complications. Fun without worrying about whether you were neglecting your fierce, passionate, intelligent, opinionated, tall, ridiculously beautiful girlfriend who literally hundreds of other dudes lusted over on Facebook and in real life.

In the old process, you started having fun again. Good, clean, fun. And also good, boozy, grimy, unclean fun. And after a while, you realised that you were fun, and confident, and fit, and attractive again.

And that’s usually when something good would happen with a beautiful stranger: when you were fun again.

6.

That old process — it took months. It was normal, and natural, and human.

But with these apps, now, there’s no need for a process anymore.

The next day, if you feel like it, you can be “out there”, online.

And that’s not good, man.

We humans, we don’t know what we want, or what’s healthy, or what’s good for us.

We can’t freeze the pendulum in inertia, at its positive point. We can’t stop the clock at magical midnight.

We have to let the pendulum swing back and forth, there and back. The clock must tick all the way around again.

That’s life. Life is not always about yearning and lusting and hoping. Most of the time, life is about being and accepting.

7.

We’re engineering the world around us, and ourselves, for ‘happiness’ all the time.

But we don’t know what happiness is.

Because there is no happiness without pain.

What are we going to do when all the pain’s gone?

Sam and I were talking about the future over waffles and cappuccino at breakfast on Sunday morning.

Sam suggested a postmodern utopia, a future in which man has no need for work, when the economics of scarcity no longer exist, when we have unlimited time to do anything.

He said it might be an accidental hell.

God dammit, Sam.

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