A Guy’s Explanation On Why Tinder And Instagram Are NOT The Places To Seek True Love

Illustration by  Eun Sol Chang

Illustration by Eun Sol Chang

Disclaimer: the following is both a critique to the so called modern love (paradoxically not love at all) and a work of self-criticism. It is introspective and social-oriented. It does not aim to be a beacon for anyone, for we all react differently to media phenomena. Nevertheless I see it as a manifesto to be implemented in my personal life.

Let me get this completely straight from the beginning. I’m not easy to get. I’m just not. I won’t message you every night to wish you a good sleep, nor will I ask the next morning whether you did sleep well. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t act out of rudeness, but I would die from boredom if I behaved that way. I’d rather cause you to lose your sleep, though. We can turn the mattress into an agora and the sheets into a ring if you wish. And next morning there won’t be any need for asking “how did you sleep?”, because the answer will be right in our dark circles. We’ll both know that the only need to be fulfilled will be a really huge dose of caffeine.

I am not going to portray myself as something else than what I actually am either. Not in a million years. I won’t be dragged into being displayed as if we were all in a store window, waiting for someone to choose us for his New Year’s Eve outfit. “Welcome to Tinder! the showcase for partners, who looks good on you?”.

I know how it works. Indeed. You just need to be a little witty and show some sarcasm on your bio. Your photos should feature your face at least twice, while still allowing for the customer to see your figure. Being sassy is not only allowed but recommended. Don’t go all the way, though. If you are to quote an author, it better be an existentialist, and for movies Xavier Dolan is never out of place. You may add a couple photos to set your story line, just so the potential partner gets the message. So, let’s say a minimalist building. Or a staircase “from where you stand” (where else if otherwise?), a painting by Dalí… Whatever you choose, you must show how deep the ideas your thoughts revolve around are, and to what great extent you feel moved by art.

Dress in a hipster manner, but don’t be open about it. You are supposed to be mad every time someone uses that word to describe you. Pitchfork will be your bible when it comes to music taste. Of course you don’t enjoy it, but you will get used to that. Tame yourself listening to Tame Impala. However, if you have a hard time not listening to, say, Miley Cyrus there is still something you can do. You can like her ironically while being devoted to the awesomeness of Rhye and Run the Jewels. That way you “enjoy the mainstream while still being better than tools unaware of its awfulness” (urban dictionary’s definition of “hipsterlly”).

Instead of all that crap, we, you and I, shall live outside the comfort zone, outside of preconceived standards, outside the box… Outside the world if I may say. Perhaps I don’t find spending almost a hundred euros in a pair of Stan Smith very appealing. What for? In order to look like the average reader of Squire? Should I also follow its advice on haircuts? Obviously enough, an important portion of my taste is conformed by canons such as the proclaimed by those publications. Fair enough. But maybe, my hairstyle is based on an old photo that I found on my grandpa’s bed side table. Maybe I don’t want to fit into proper good taste anymore. You don’t either.

Illustration by Eunsol Chang

Illustration by Eun Sol Chang

I can also fit sometimes. By chance. If we get to know each other, you will find out that I read Houellebecq in French, but I like better Muriel Barbery, whose book The Elegance of the Hedgehog I didn’t succeed at reading in French whatsoever. Yes, you will learn that. In due time and via regular conversations. Because I want you to fall in love with me, not with my Facebook alter ego.

Just as you will discover my literary preferences, you will become familiar with my music taste. When David Bowie dies and I comment that I didn’t enjoy his music that much. Or when I am high and can’t help but giving an impromptu performance of Mulan’s soundtrack at the top of my voice. Or when summer comes, and I just have to play that really gross song from the 2000’s that was a big hit in Spain. Or when I am sad and intoxicate myself with Portuguese fado. Or when we are having sex, and I annoyingly get up because I’m in the mood for allowing that nordic noir Spotify playlist to join us.

Speaking about sex, when we are fucking please don’t expect me to say “Oh, God” because I find that “Ay, Dios” is about ten times more expressive. Well, actually don’t expect me to say anything coherent at all in English after the first couple of minutes. I will probably say nonsense in Spanish. And I will probably laugh a lot, unlike how porn and indie movies have taught you to behave. I’m usually not into those intense exchanges of looks. Unless I am. Then I am a lot.

By depicting yourself as a likeable fancy product, you unconsciously create your own advertisement campaign via your personal social media. You turn yourself into a public relations agency. if you keep the commercialisation-of-human-beings factor aside, it doesn’t seem that terrible at first glance, right? Aren’t you just acting as your own ambassador? No you are not. In doing this you relinquish yourself and, most importantly, your uniqueness. “Be plural, like the universe!”, plead the genius Fernando Pessoa. Well, one thing is for sure. In advertisement there is no room for Pessoa’s key notions of plurality, ambiguity or making-sense-contradictions. The inner universe he spoke about doesn’t fit in a thirty second commercial, let alone in your Tinder bio.

The message must be conveyed. The love factory has to produce those megalikes. So with a few brush strokes, you sketch like a cartoonist not yourself, but a commonplace closer to an artificial ideal, whose success you can predict beforehand.

Sorry but now you can’t like that gross song anymore, because they wouldn’t understand how much does it sound to you like a celebration of life. Nor have you any room left for explaining it. So you will instead say you like David Bowie. Alright, you don’t abominate him, but he wasn’t your cup of tea and you know it.

While this demeanour definitely works if your wish to get easily laid (or if you want a ready-to-use king size bed in the centre of Copenhagen), it proves fatal in the long term perspective. “Oh, how did you like my present? I remembered you enjoyed David Bowie. I was damn sure you would be thrilled about Blackstar”. “Ahmmm, yeah. Thank you so much honey. Best gift ever, yay!” Yes, sure.

The previous was just a lame warning of what could happen. In a broader perspective, what you are trying to accomplish is to to keep alive a ghost made of bits. You want to fit it into the overwhelming armour you have designed for yourself. Well, congratulations, your universe has just been upgraded to golden cage status. You won’t make it. The illusion will fail to remain alive and the gap between reality and expectations won’t be overcome.

Illustration by Eunsol Chang

Illustration by Eun Sol Chang

In the beginning of this digression I stated that I’m not easy to get. Well, it’s not on my list either. I’m not planning on becoming a ready-to-use good. I’m not disposable. I’m a human being and I was not born with a user manual.

I need time to explain you all about myself. I need time to hear all about yourself. Your childhood, your family, your goals, your inner mythology. I want to know what would you like to get as a tattoo, or if you would never get one. I need you to grow wiser with me. I need our coffees to get cold while our personal pronouns melt into a we. I need to travel elsewhere with you, to see how do you treat your parents, to cry on your shoulder because of something really stupid. I need to discover what song do you enjoy listening to when we have sex, and to argue with you about gentrification, neoliberalism, the Mediterranean way of life and how love is being globalized. I need to tell you all about my friends like a proud grandpa speaking of their niece.

I might not be easy to get. That’s right. But none of us is and you already knew it at heart. Just like you know that the universe doesn’t fit in a smartphone, despite they want us to believe so. You are not going to arrive anywhere if you are not yourself and stay true.

Now let me tell you something. I’m just as hard to love as anyone else. The previous 1316 words are not about love but the shiny and empty substitute we are confusing it with. Love is not like that. It doesn’t follow any canons but its own. And although it can travel through the cyberspace, it may not be reduced to an algorithm in which we can base an app. It doesn’t care about your outfit or your music taste. Love won’t run away if you failed to appreciate David Bowie. Not even if you only became a fan of him now that he died.

Love is plural.
Love is ambiguous.
Love is a making-sense-contradiction.
And most of all: love is universal.

Written by Marcos González Bartolomé