When I began to reveal to friends my decision to take a break from booking and management in order to pursue a degree in law school, I remember one friend replying in shock, “but it looks like you are having so much fun in L.A., on the social medias at least!” This led me to evaluate the narrative I was portraying online. Yes, it was a bit overly optimistic. But then again, who in their right mind gives a pessimistic portrayal of themselves in front of such a large audience?
Would people prefer if I Instagrammed a picture of my hand cupping a puddle of cum, caption reading: “Just want 2 lay in bed & keep masturbating instead of going 2 work! #cumstain #alone”? Or maybe my Facebook status should read: “Just barely paid off my credit card bill, but still don’t have enough to pay water. Feeling annoyed #turntoff” And next time I am getting tested at the LGBTQ Center, I’ll be sure to check in on Foursquare with the status: “Getting tested because I don’t remember last night #condombroke #HIVscare.”
Rather than give the full story, I really would love to give up social media all together. There are few things I consider more worthless to humanity than Facebook. Creed is up there. Grindr as well. Unlike Creed, I find myself coming back to Grindr again and again. It’s a vicious cycle of 2 months on, 2 months off. More disheartening than my inability to kick the app is its acceptance among my peers as not just a shameful way to find crude sex, but a platform to find a real, dateable partner. “It’s 2014,” they say, “get over it. Everything is online now.”
Unfortunately for me, online dating is primarily an RPG experience.
The idea that my iPhone is supposed to be a gateway to romance is something I cannot grasp. What am I to tell my kids when they ask how their parents met? “Oh yes, well – funny story. Do you know what a dick pick is?” or maybe, “Well I meant to swipe left, but the universe had other plans in mind…” How touching.
Instead of taking it seriously, I approach Grindr like a video game, except sometimes you win an orgasm. I’ve always been drawn to what developers call ‘sandbox’ games. Furnishing a two-story home in The Sims or landscaping a river rapids ride in Rollercoaster Tycoon was my type of fun. Racing around levels trying to complete specific tasks? Frustrating as hell, no thanks. Unfortunately for me, online dating is primarily an RPG experience. Choosing a witty profile tag line, or customizing my search preferences comes with ease; tactfully playing it cool to score a date is mission impossible.
And when I do get past “into” and “sup”, my desperate attempts to coax people into the real world are usually unsuccessful. Even though “Masc4Same” enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and hanging out with friends, he’s too tired to meet up for coffee a half a mile away. Meanwhile, “Weho Guy” is “not looking,” even though he sent me enough X-rated material to make a porn star blush. And rather than get dinner, “InviTemeover” wants to get “T,” which I was slow to learn does not mean Herbal or English.
If you are exhausted, uninterested, and high on meth, what could you possibly be doing on this app then? Discussing world politics? Finding a cure for Ebloa? Applying for jobs? Actually, that last one happened to me, the other way around. I was browsing Grindr’s vast sea of headless torsos one afternoon, when an innocent enough looking boy who just moved to L.A. from Arkansas started messaging me. The question “what do you do” ended not with the usual “cool,” but instead a series of questions asking how I got into the music industry. So many questions that my thumb was beginning to cramp. And then he dropped the I word (Internship, don’t get any ideas).
Since the programmers at Grindr have yet to add a C.V., we switched to email. “NewToThis” was very green indeed, having absolutely no experience in the music industry, or really any other field for that matter. I was able to look past this since he did look cute shirtless and own a car, two things vital to making it in the entertainment industry in L.A. And people weren’t exactly knocking down my door for a chance to have me boss them around. We had one phone interview, and I awarded him the gig.
Three times a week, my Grindr intern would arrive, my iced mocha in tow, ready to drive me around in his Mercedez-Benz hard top convertible. “NewToThis” had a need for speed, my appointments hearing us roaring down the streets of L.A. minutes before our actual arrival. Lunch was covered with the swipe of his Amex too, and we eventually moved from my home office at Hollywood and Vine to his much better appointed private studio in the hills.
Without any other job except this unpaid internship, I began to wonder where the dough for his groovy lifestyle came. “NewToThis” didn’t strike me as a Trust Fund type. He had about as much sophistication as a Motel 6. When I finally did demand an explanation, the otherwise confident and poised young man looked down in embarrassment. “The Producer,” he sheepishly muttered, “he pays for everything, and I…well you know. I don’t have sex with him, just other things.”
I just provided jaded advice on making it in the music industry instead of blowjobs.
A sugar daddy? I knew my intern could do better, and he seemed to think so too. But who was I to judge? I didn’t want to give up the Amex and Benz either. In a way, I had fallen victim to the same ploy – “NewToThis” had become my sugar daddy. I just provided jaded advice on making it in the music industry instead of blowjobs. I refrained from bringing it up again.
Three months later, the Grindr intern vanished back into the ocean of headless torsos from which he emerged. Just as quickly as he had appeared, the longest relationship I’ve ever had from online dating was over. No phone call, no email, no letter of resignation. I had been dumped. And what “NewToThis” left in his void was the feeling I was holding on to an outdated notion of relationships. He probably found some better opportunity just as quickly as he found me. That’s the new reality of our globalized world – everything has a cost, attention span is minimal, and you are competing against a vast sea of headless torsos.
The gatekeepers removed, one can be whatever they want, whenever, wherever.
So does this render my strong preference towards meeting strangers in person obsolete? Does this mean I better hone in on my online dating game or risk being left in the dust? Should I utilize crowd sourcing next time I’m short on rent money? I’m beginning to think so. But what the Internet’s hyper connectivity also means is that I’m much more likely to find people like me. I can use online dating to find the few people that also hate it. But if we do meet on one of the hopeless apps, I’ll make sure we have a more noteworthy explanation to “we met online.”
Illustrations by Ray Sumser.