My generation—hovering awkwardly between Gen Xers and millennials, relating to both and fitting in with neither—exists in the intersection between earnestly dating without technology and completely and utterly relying on it.When I became of dating age, what “dating” even entailed was an abstract concept I’d absorbed from old movies. We “met up.” Meet-ups involved texting your romantic interest around midnight on your flip phone to coordinate a meeting spot close enough to one of your apartments—both convenient but inconspicuous—while your friends hovered at a nearby bar so you had other options. Namely, a heavy reliance on alcohol, complete ambiguity when it came to intentions, and the need for an almost meditative commitment to going with the flow. A beauty that, like most good things, didn’t reveal itself until it was gone.Because of this, there was always some level of accountability between you and your romantic interest.In other words, if you were terrible, people would hear about it.It was impossible to actively date online and not be.You felt cheated if you didn’t ghost at least once in a while, like someone who lets everyone else board the subway but never gets on themselves. By this time, apps had replaced desktop, browsing became swiping.I could tell with a glance: not so much whether a relationship with the person on my screen could work, but whether it’d even be worth a shot. In the beginning, online dating was like my teenage dream come true: knowing when someone I liked, liked me back.And 60 minutes later, tired and ready for bed, I’d have no more romantic prospects than when I started. I’d have a date lined up nearly every night, sometimes two in a day, my stomach full of butterflies and happy hour specials.
Penciled it in like a chore I could perform while half asleep, watching whatever new cable drama happened to be capping my days.Unfortunately I had no idea how to take photos of myself and had no desire to learn or even try. In the old days we were all so high on the novelty of smartphones that we snapped shots of one another regularly.