When I was in kindergarten, a girl kissed me on the cheek. I can barely even remember it, but I must’ve done something fairly sweet that won her over. The entire fling was wrapped up in a child-like innocence, one that many teens and young adults would look at and chuckle. But I would argue that these same teens and adults could learn something from what took place on that playground. She was seven. She liked me. I liked her. And she didn’t need the approval of all of her closest girlfriends; she didn’t need to chat with me online first. She just acted bravely, and I think grown men, me included, could take notes from this unabashed seven year-old girl.
Nothing about the way our fling played out would be protocol in today’s digitalized era. Along came computers, then the internet, then social media, and then we all put our guards up. Dating stayed fairly the same; the steps leading up to dating took a turn for the worse. I know “social” media has made us less social beings, and I don’t think anyone would argue that. I certainly use it. But there is a right and a wrong way to use social media to meet/talk to/observe women, and more often than not I think we men take the wrong way.
The old method used to be this: meet a person, get to know them, then add them as a friend on Facebook or follow them on Twitter once you have become friends. Many people have put a negative spin on this, namely: see a girl in passing or come across a picture of her, add her on social media, talk to her ON SOCIAL MEDIA with “cute” messages, finally meet face-to-face. A very observant individual recognized this trend and created the monstrosity that is Tinder, in which you determine whether or not you might want to “chat” electronically with someone based solely off of their photos. I do not have the statistics, but the trend seems to be that more of the connections made on this app end up in one night stands and not dating. And please don’t think that I am against dating websites like Match, because I am not. Dating sites can be helpful for people in a rut, as long as they are honestly looking for a companion, someone they want to get to know better. If dating sites end in face-to-face contact, where people do fall in love with others due to their personalities, I think that’s a plus.
That being said, I think Tinder is toxic to our society, not only because it demeans someone to merely a picture or two, but because it reinforces some peoples’ idea that the right way to approach someone is via a screen where you work your smooth moves. I have had multiple people tell me how confident and bold they are because of the clever innuendos they posed to a girl they are sending messages to. I’m supposed to be impressed and praise them for how good they are with women. Really? Is that how we now define confidence? Have we gotten to the point as a society where women fall for whoever has the most creative pick-up line on an app, or who sends them enough Facebook messages? Or where that is the perception at least? What happened to approaching others in person, or meeting them through groups, clubs, church, or social events? But many people don’t want to make that kind of time commitment. And why should they when a gorgeous girl is right at their fingertips, just as long as they swipe right enough times?
I do not like the trend that I am seeing. And as I have begun living on my own, I have found it difficult to meet young people. The approach of meeting people face-to-face is difficult, and I am far from mastery on the subject. But maybe that’s also what makes it so special. I’ll be the first to admit I need to lay off the Facebook creeping a bit myself. But let’s agree-as men, as women, as a society, to try to do a little better.