Mena Soliman

About Mena Soliman

Mena Soliman is a Writer, Part-time conspiracy theorist, a defender of snacks, hoarder of trivial facts, abuser of parentheses, and when he eats apples...he doesn't stop at the core.

Romantically challenged writer Mena Soliman mourns the condition of our current e-relations and predicts some future online dating apps.

 

Oh, how the times have changed. Back in the humble old days of the Internet – you know, 2008 – online dating was once deemed a noble pursuit.

The web gave you choices like Zoosk, RSVP, OasisActive (the cheapskate’s delight) and the world-famous, eHarmony. Dreamers and quiet souls alike would trawl the web, going through a meticulous nightly routine of “checking the nets”, just to see if a notification from a searingly attractive person had materialised upon their profile. (It hadn’t.)

You’d take the time to carefully answer the profile questions, complete surveys and switch on a series of often-modified preferences in the hopes of finding that perfect someone. Once you initiated a connection with a wink, or a nudge, or a kiss, you’d commence a civilised dialogue.

At one point in every conversation (I know, how quaint) came a simple IM with the challenge, “Pics?”

This meant it was go-time, the moment of truth. This is where all e-dates either blossomed or died a cruel and untimely digital death. With gastric butterflies circling, you’d rush to that little folder on your Desktop containing a carefully curated selection of shots you’d spent hours scrutinising – ensuring your good side was featured, your ex craftily cropped out – and you’d click Send.

You had an even chance.

Either your conversation went into hyper-drive (syrupy compliments, photos and impossible promises rushing through the wires), or one of you slung the passive-aggressive arrow of: “Awesome chatting. Big day tomoz. Good nite!” and it was over.

These very stimulating exchanges, relics of Internet Decorum have been surpassed by your Tinders and Grindrs. In this streamlined model, all the initial work is eliminated and we start instead at the “picture filter” stage. Today the prospect of a budding relationship is decided by a half-inch slide of the thumb, which, after blinking, is quite possibly the least amount of effort required to hit on someone.

I mourn the condition of our e-relations.

There’s no heartfelt investment of time or energy, no foreplay. It’s like a Harvard student the day after graduation, straight into business. What’s worse, it’s evolving.

You now have spin-off apps following the Tinder model, apps that ask us to “judge by thumb”.

Spoonr, formerly the defunct Cuddlr, lets you find a person to spoon with for heaven’s sake; apparently the old fashioned way of approaching complete strangers with this proposal has become too time-consuming for our busy lifestyles. Spark, which uses Bluetooth to initiate contact with other train passengers, takes the “sly perve” on the ride home to the next level. (“Haay gurl sitting by the window in a rear facing seat…wanna GET OFF at the next station?”)

Maybe these things have their merits. It’s clear to see that somebody has noticed a gaping need in the market and found a way to fill it with a creepy, skin-crawling app. But I worry, friends. I worry that next generations will rely on these types of abbreviated interactions, that there’ll be an app created for every whimsical date scenario.

“Poppr” – instant dates with people already seated in your cinema?
“Pumpr” – “Hey boy at Bowser 4, I think I see your fuel nozzle…”?
“One Night Grandstand” – For when you’re at the game and YOU want to score.

You see what I mean?

It won’t just be online dating. This mobile-powered malaria will spread to tasks that should NOT be done without a one-on-one conversation.

“Bridl” – Why call eight people, when you can ‘swipe’ select your bridal party?
“RprtCrd” – Did your daughter pass English this term? <Left Swipe>
“Prost8” – Doc’s gonna swipe where the sun don’t shine. But hey, it’s benign!

We are constructing the bed for one almighty, lazy beast. We are cutting out the art and refinement of conversation and taking dangerous shortcuts. Do not misunderstand me. I’m not some bitter old fogey bemoaning Generation Y and the evils of technology – you’ll notice I deliberately excluded the word “newfangled” from my descriptions.

I am for moving forward; for following the trails blazed by geeks with creased t-shirts and ironic FitBits, but not every poorly abbreviated product name should become a verb in Urban Dictionary, and not every online dating app is a good idea just because it’s free in the App Store.

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