I’ve always been a shy person. In some aspects, social media has helped me come out of my shell a lot. In other ways, it has only forced back in. In high school, hookup culture was brutal. Especially at a boarding school where it wasn’t really allowed. Snapchat ruined any conceptions of intimacy and romance that I thought I had. You didn’t go out on dates or hold hands. You would spend hours waiting for the other person to snap you and ask whether you wanted to meet in the boat yard or by the tennis courts and at what time. If you were lucky, you got the backseat of a car at the beach down the road. The entirety of the hookup was filled with anxiety of getting caught. Once you finished, you went your respective ways and refused to make any eye contact in the hallway the next day of school. There was no romance. There was only Snapchat.
For a long time, I truly thought it was romantic to get a snap or for someone I liked to like my picture on Instagram. This is what social media did to me and my generation. It normalized distance and transactional relationships. It let us settle for crumbs; any crumb that we could get to validate ourselves at an age where we so desperately want to be validated.
The anxiety of being 19 and alone in a social media obsessed world that feeds off love and romance (or at least the façade of love and romance) is hard. I’m constantly forced to see what I don’t have and what I want most. The concept of love plaguing my mind; obsessed with it one minute and questioning it in its entirety the next.
Moving to NYC for school has been liberating. I finally got to be in a place where no one knew me, and I could finally grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. There were so many new people for me to meet, but more importantly (in my mind) to date. However, even though there are millions of people in the City, that doesn’t make it any easier to find a partner. This is where dating apps came into my life.
Getting to an age where I can legitimately use dating apps to meet people has been eye-opening for me. I constantly find myself opening up Tinder and then closing it 5 minutes later judging myself… thinking how am I supposed to find someone I like based off of pictures? It all feels so superficial to me. And yet, I still open the app. Tinder, to me, feels exactly the same as high school. You see a person, think they’re cute, let them know your interested. A message on Tinder is the same distanced Snapchat that I wanted so desperately in high school. Although I don’t feel as distressed about it now. Maybe you meet up, hook up, meet up again. But the serotonin I feel when I match with someone doesn’t feel right. That feeling is exactly how I felt when a boy I had a crush on liked my post. Superficial validation. Why do I crave it? I know I’m not the only one…
A sentence that comes up constantly in conversations with my friends is, “I want to meet someone naturally.” Well what the fuck does that even mean? Am I just going to bump into them on the street or at a bar? Life is beautiful but it’s not just one big Nicholas Sparks movie. I’m not trying to be cynical, but seriously. I’ve gotten so comfortable hiding behind a screen and the safety that it provides that if I did bump into a cute guy on the street I would probably apologize and run away; embarrassed and over-analyzing it in my head for the rest of the day.
The dichotomy that social media imposes on my everyday life is weird to say the least. It makes it so hard to navigate through what is real and what is fake. It messes with not only my perception of the world but the way I see and feel about myself. Why am I so comfortable posting pictures of myself and my body on the internet for whoever to see, but in reality, I try to hide my body as much as possible. It’s the exact same for dating apps. I feel more than comfortable using a bikini picture on my profile, but in real life I would feel so uncomfortable being in a bikini around someone I’m interested in. Social media and dating apps have so superficially boosted my self-confidence it’s confusing.
I guess I’m just frustrated with how the internet has affected the way I feel about myself. I’m frustrated with the way that social media has affected society’s view on intimacy. I’m frustrated that my standards are viewed as prude when I don’t see the point in using dating apps. I’m frustrated with the way dating apps have prioritized one night stands over a date. Don’t get me wrong sex is great and there is nothing wrong with one-night stands if that is what you prefer. I just wish it was more normal to go on a real date and get to know someone beyond the surface level; to get to know someone beyond thinking they look hot on their profile.
Name: Lauren Dawicki
Relationship Status: Single
Dating Apps: Tinder, Hinge