Analog: Love Off the Grid

How the fuck do people meet online? Seriously, how do you people do it? Here’s what I’ve gleaned:

1) You sign up for any one of (or all of) a million sites, describe yourself as interesting but not too bizarre, get creative about your weight, and post some photos of yourself in each of the three mandatory scenarios.*

2) Then sit back and let whatever you want come rolling in. Want casual sex? Check your inbox. Want a meaningful relationship? Check your inbox. Want to feel confused about the kind of people who find you attractive and even more confused about how they go about expressing that? Check your inbox. Want dick pics? You’re in so much luck – check your inbox.

Reader, if you currently enjoy or have ever engaged in online dating, it’s very likely you think I didn’t quite nail it with my little check-your-inbox-for-love bit. If I did nail it, it’s only because I’ve read so many articles about how to date online. I’ve also helped friends carefully compose profiles or messages or choose their photographs.** I am of an age that spent its adolescence and young adulthood watching the entire evolution of online dating, from AIM to Tinder. But I myself have never dated online. Never once. My only romantic encounters with people – casual or otherwise – were initiated in real life.

That’s right folks. I am a Gold Star Analog Dater. With nothing but regular old off the grid methods I have met random dudes and steady beaux alike. Hell, I’ve even stumbled on my fiancé this way (suck on that, Basically, anything a dating app can do, I can do better.

But a lot of people feel that way. In fact, most people I know enjoy a blend of analog and digital socializing, and have developed relationships from both sources. Or they find one works better, but having the other available doesn’t hurt. It’s just a way to broaden your selection pool. So why do I totally eschew the internet introduction? Why have I always chosen to so severely limit my resources?

For a couple reasons. Usually I claim that if someone is going to put his genitals near my own (or, for the love of God, near my face) I’d prefer attraction be initiated by the presence of the actual flesh and blood body, not some milquetoast photograph with a dog or shudder wearing a fedora or bigger shudder leaning on a wall and gazing into the distance or biggest shudder all three. Looking at those pictures is like looking a stranger’s vacation photos. No matter how hot the stranger is (whatever that means), the photos are still boring. They convey too little information to inspire any interest. Much as with a stranger’s pics of a trip to Hawai’i, I claim there are sights and sounds and smells that contribute to the development of a relationship – casual or not – and those simply are not forthcoming in an online dating profile.

Though all of that is true, there’s another, bigger reason I don’t do digital. I find online dating intimidating. Frightening even. I meet people every day who aren’t attracted to me and I live to tell the tale. But the idea of being passed over on the internet makes me seriously uncomfortable. I mean, do you guys remember the first time you saw someone use Tinder? Just watching the finger glide over the screen like that, like those people in the pictures aren’t real? Like the person doing the swiping is looking at a stranger’s vacation photos, bored to death? Basically, what frightens me about dating online is that the people looking at me will feel the way I would looking at them – detached, bored, and very dissatisfied. But mostly detached.

Even people who don’t want to date or hook up with me in real life are, for the most part, obligated to acknowledge in their interactions with me that I am a person, that I occupy space, that I need and give things, enjoy and scorn things, taste and smell things. They are obligated to acknowledge I am fucking there. Being there means a lot to me. Being more than a photo and bio means so much to me that it’s a necessity. It’s an primary and crucial requirement for initiating or engaging in any kind of relationship. The rest – sex and love and whatever else you can get either digital or analog dating – is just gravy.


*with dog and/or hiking, looking a fool in club gear with two to 20 other people, and beaming beatifically from behind a plate of poached eggs and a mimosa.

** this is how I know so much about what makes a suitable photograph. You people and your 20 friends in club gear, I swear.

Image Credit: DeviantART

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