It’s midnight on a Friday, you’re 18 years old and living at Uni Hall. You’re sculling Scrumpy and chanting Fergalicious with your friends. Life is good.
Your phone dings twice. You have two Tinder notifications. You slam your Scrumpy down on your Uni Hall desk to check your phone. Aha, you have matched with two of your fellow floor members! Immediately, you receive a message from both of them in unison. It’s the purple devil emoji followed with a question mark. You know what they want. You send one a winky face. The other, you send a thumbs down. The night’s events commence…
Many of you will be able to interpret these messages. Some of you may not.
Online dating apps have fashioned their own unique vocabulary, most including the overuse of the eggplant and donut emojis. The conversations had on dating apps are unlike any conversation you’ll have in real life, yet they sort of help you find your own voice in an online space. Surprisingly beneficial, these conversations build up your CV of dealing with freaky people; they are what prepares you for the inevitable awkwardness of real-life communication. Dating apps also help you curate a list of personalised GIFs for different occasions. VITAL life skills being developed here.
My own experience in matching and receiving messages on dating apps has been mixed; like many, I’ve been the target of online trolls and pervs. Some messages that I have received in the past paint a picture of a grotesque and shameless space where both men and women troll their peers to their hearts content.
Here are 5 examples of some REAL vomit-inducing dm’s straight from some of my friends’ inboxes:
- ‘I have a dirty question haha. Would you let me go down on you? Haha’. (as if the Haha’s made this any less creepy)
- ‘What ethnicity are you? (heart eyes emoji)’. (first of all why? second of all, no!)
- ‘OMG YOU ARE HUSBAND MATERIAL’ (why)
- ‘Are you French? Because it’s safe to say Eiffel for you’. (0/10 pick up line, wow)
And the final one from my very own inbox, extracted from old screenshots…
- ‘There once was a girl named Lilly, who rode on a horse named Billy. She went into town and looked all around to find herself a big, huge Willy. You’re welcome.’
After reading these messages, you can’t be innocent again – you’ve experienced some of the worst of what single life has to offer. However, you are now equipped with some asshole spotting skills, and you learn quickly what you find ‘endearing’ and what you find ‘rotted’. Once again, props to you, Tinder, for helping single people everywhere reach a point of self-loathing, wondering if there is anyone decent even left on this damn app (there might be like 3 or 4).
I’ve been able to develop certain personal communication skills through conversing with many different people about their interests. Talking to weirdos online has helped me in the real world, when someone approaches me at the bus stop and asks me if ‘I’ve seen the Light’ or if someone catcalls me from their car. I have a greater understanding of the sheer number of weirdos that must be walking the streets, so accepting them has become easier for me. Messaging on dating apps also sets you up for the rejection you’re bound to experience in your professional and personal life. YOU can decide if they’re ghosting you because:
- You wouldn’t immediately sleep with them
- They’re silent because ‘thEy neEd to juSt focUs on thEIr sTUDies riGHt noW’
Online dating has also somehow made me better at saying no to people; a thing I’ve often found difficult in my life. A practice I would often fail at; saying no on dating apps, gave me the power I needed in my personal life to say no to things I’d felt pressured into in the past like ‘friends with benefits’ or ‘pineapple on pizza’.
Saying no can sometimes come in the form of removing someone from snapchat, blocking a profile on tinder or straight up calling someone out for being an obnoxious asshole. This is probably a cake walk for the normal person, but for someone who has a problem with disappointing people, carrying out these actions helps establish control in who I communicate with and how I choose to be spoken to by strangers online.
However, dating apps and the experiences you have with them is mostly in your hands. You decide what kind of person you match with, and how far you choose to take the experience. It can also be a totally negative experience, where you find yourself obsessing over pictures and a few lines of information, otherwise known as a ‘bio’. In managing yourself in an online space, where people are most likely lying to you, where people are presenting the absolute most attractive aspects of themselves and nothing else, you must have some tenacity and persistence.
Considering the good and bad, wandering through the online dating realm can be quite liberating for a person who feels trapped in within who they already know, or how people in their life perceive them. Dating apps allow you to explore every facet of yourself, as you can meet people who change your perspectives in a mostly anonymous space.