Online Dating, Online Living
I want to say I grew up on the internet, but that’s not entirely true. While I had dial-up until I was about 13 years old, I didn’t actively use the internet until age 14-15 when I was in high school and Facebook was a social requirement. ¶ Even so, despite the fact that I’ve only been online for less than a decade, I feel unnatural away from the internet, to the point that my iPhone feels like an actual extension of my body. I don’t like being without it, and I don’t like being without cell service for more than a couple of hours. I get twitchy. Almost everything I do, I do with the aid of the mysterious series of tubes.
The internet is my home; it’s my terrain, my world. I’m in bed right now, my laptop resting on my lap while I type this out, and I am nodding along in agreement because that’s the most truthful thing I’ve ever said: The internet is where I feel the safest.
I recently started online dating. I’ve met up with a few girls from OkCupid – what seems to me the go-to online dating site for lonely jerk-offs and beautiful lesbians everywhere. I used to think online dating was lame – for losers. “Who meets people online?” I thought. “Go to a bar like a normal person.” But now, I can’t imagine just speaking to someone at a bar. I mean, I can (a couple of drinks in), but I’d rather not. I’d rather go on a date with someone from OkCupid I’ve been texting for a few days. That way, I know they’re real. A stranger at a bar, who are they? Can I trust them? Can I find out their full name in casual conversation so I can quickly Google them in the bathroom before we grab a cab together? I cannot think of a more natural way to meet people than through my screen. I grew up functioning like a regular person, and now, I’m yet another social media-obsessed clone, biting my nails by the light of the monitor. Teardrops on my MacBook Pro.
When I meet up with girls I encountered online, I feel safe and reassured that they are who they are. We don’t Skype – but we can if we want to. We text – moving from the OkCupid site to texting is the next step. Then comes the question: Do I save their number?
A lot of my friends use Tinder, the online dating-turned-hookup app popular with, well, everyone. The app is different than most dating sites, as it requires users to sign in with a Facebook account, which verifies that a user is ‘real’. Insert one of hundreds of Tinder think pieces here. I personally haven’t had much luck with it as it keeps insisting on showing me dudes. My friends have, but they are straight.
Meeting up with guys you find online is not at all like meeting girls. The first time I went to hang out with a girl from OkCupid, I told one friend who lives in the city the nearby intersection of her address. If I were to meet a guy, I would ask her to be on alert if I stop texting after a certain time, the exact address of where we were meeting up, his physical description, phone number, and so forth. Am I paranoid, or just careful? It’s hard to tell. “The safe word, in case anything happens,” I text my friends before any date, “is ‘tennis shoes.’” I’ve never felt the need to send it. Meeting guys is scary. Meeting girls is fun, and I’m so goddamn lucky to be a lesbian.
Why am I more comfortable fucking someone I met online than someone I just met at a bar? Surely, I could do either, but an IRL introduction seems a lot stranger than a virtual one these days. What do I do with my body? I sway in place awkwardly when meeting somebody new. Dating online just feels normal. I’m always online, whether on my laptop or my phone, so it only makes sense that this is where I meet new people. Still, I have my limits. I don’t like to give out my Facebook or Instagram to people I meet through online dating, but sometimes they ask and I don’t know how to say no. Is it wrong that I want to keep those lives completely separate? I don’t want these girls to know about me. I don’t need new friends, but I have new girls following my Instagram now. It almost makes me uncomfortable, but then I get to know them. But Facebook still stays private. Tumblr? Totally off-limits. No way, no how. Sorry, babe.
However, online dating as queer has its bumps, especially in a city like Toronto where every lesbian seems to know every other lesbian. For example: I started talking to a girl. And then another girl. And it turned out they knew each other. Someone from school knew the first girl and now it’s just a mess. I can’t keep track of who knows who. I’m stepping back – I don’t want a conversation. I mean, I do – I’m curious and gossipy and kind of nosy. But let’s cut to the chase: We both know why we’re here. Neither of us planned to spend the night having deep talks about Breaking Bad and Nietzsche. We came to fuck.
But my phone is attached to my body and sometimes I can’t stop talking. I grew up online and that’s all I know, and sometimes, making conversation and trying to flirt over text just seems easier than trying to be cute in person. It’s easier to be honest online – people can be more honest when they don’t have to look you in the eyes. Sometimes I’m weak and fall prey to having deep talks through text as well.
I could go for a makeout sesh every now and then, though. Just please be who you say you are, and please don’t kill me. I want to kiss girls, but I don’t want to get murdered. For the record, I analyze text messages like a pro, a mental spreadsheet just within reach to help figure out where the message lands on the “What Does It Mean??” chart.
Ultimately, chasing girls is difficult, online or off. And lesbian drama shows up even if I don’t ask for it, even if I don’t ‘do anything’. I guess online dating just made me realize how small the city really is. I gotta get out of here. To quote Toronto loveboy Drake: No new friends.