Meet new people they said. It will be fun they said…
Fun reminder to those who actually participate in reading the cringworthy things I write, I am known to not like people. Being social was never my strongest quality. That being said, this should be humorous for you (I imagine lots of eye rolls and if so then I’m doing something right with this one).
When I found myself lacking in the friend category back in November, a dear classmate of mine who I often vent to, did something odd for me. Never in my life would I ever make a profile online meant to meet new people.
Things like my Facebook, Snapchat and the MySpace I forgot existed are all private. It wasn’t until recently that I opened up my Instagram to the public because I stopped caring who I shared my photos with. Even my Tumblr (yes, I still have one) isn’t a secret. I stopped caring what certain strangers would say when seeing something I posted publicly.
I thought that was enough for me. I didn’t really see the point in adding a bunch of suggested friends because let’s be real, if they weren’t already my friend online, did I really want them to be?
Back to my initial story. While giving this classmate a ride back to Washington and venting about my lack of friends at the time, she downloaded Tinder on my phone (she was originally just playing a game because her phone died). Once upon a time I wrote a research article about online dating and different websites people use. So yes, I am aware that 78% of the people on Tinder are just looking to sleep around or to desperately search for a relationship that likely won’t last long.
She was just playing Color on my phone, when she asked for my password to the app store and said it was so she could get a different game, I believed her. After dropping her off and heading home, my phone notifications were being blown up by the newly installed app on my phone. That girl (yes, we’re still friends and she’s not being named for a reason) swiped around for our 30 minute drive home and matched me with a bunch of male strangers who I never would have talked to.
The awkward part about this is that some of these people were starting conversations with me (because clearly that’s what happens on this app) and the anxiety going through me was outrageous. No, I didn’t want a relationship with any of these people mainly because I knew all about Tinder from my sociology paper. How are you supposed to act casual when talking to a bunch of random people who you have no information about besides their name, age and distance from you?
At the time I felt awful because some of the people talking to me were literally just there to talk and didn’t seem like they were being flirty in any way, and I didn’t want to build any sort of new friendships. After speaking with the dear friend who downloaded this anxiety driven app on my phone, she said it was just so I could talk to people and stop hating on every male that managed to talk to me.
Had I really complained that much? Were my problems transparent? After our talk I decided to give it a shot. If it really was everything my research paper made it out to be, then I could always delete it later. I didn’t swipe for anyone for weeks, but still had my phone blown up with Tinder notifications. I don’t know how many people my friend had swiped right for, but we can agree that it was too many. I filtered through the matches, figured out how to unmatch people, talked to a few others.
That was the beginning of December though. Some of the people I’ve met on there are actually decent humans (I know what I sound like, just deal with it temporarily). Not all, but a select few have managed to make it to my Facebook friends list. Some of them talk to me all the time and tag me in funny relatable things on Facebook frequently. Some of them have really good taste in music and attended the same concerts I did last year (found out they were actually feet away from me at one of them).
So my experience hasn’t been all bad. I’ve hung out with a few new people. Had a few model for my portrait series (actually a super cool project that’s boosted my ego ever so slightly). But in the end I’ve found that I’m done trying to impress people in order for them to like me.
I can filter through and avoid perverted people. I can also deal with the people I know who laugh about being on Tinder when suddenly their profile pops up on mine (yeah, I see you). This is nowhere near what I would usually do to meet new people (hiding behind a keyboard and then seeing how you’re really judged in person, no thanks).
The cool thing is that I can be honest especially when not trying to impress anyone. New friends are great, or at least the ones I’ve met thus far. It’s also made me realize that I’m not as lonely as I thought I was, I just needed to open up a little more and quit hating on the world so much.
The funny part (if my awkwardness wasn’t enough) is that Tinder was just the start. Suddenly groups I joined ages ago at school were getting together and I was a part of their plans. The people trolling my portfolio (just kidding, they’re judges) started inviting me to events. Talking to people didn’t feel like a customer service task anymore and it was eye opening.
I genuinely hated people, and categorized pretty much everyone. I could trace it back to growing up in a small town, but I’m not going to go far enough to discuss it. It just took graduating from college and being thrown to the curb by a few people for me to realize that I don’t need to struggle through being myself.