Saturday, January 16, 2016

Talking To Strangers

... my online dating horror story

In this digital time, is chivalry dead? Does meeting someone serendipitously in a bookstore or a music festival way too passé nowadays or only happens in fairytales? Will I ever find the one? Let me answer some of the heart's toughest questions.

My love life, or the lack thereof, has never really bothered me as much as it has other people. I used to have a very feminist response when people ask me why I don't have a boyfriend. I used to tell them that I didn't need one, because I really didn't need one. I mean, weren't we born into this world as an individual? We weren't born with a better half with us... except for twins, which is a different case. While I still don't think I really need one to survive, I am able to joke about it more now by telling the people who ask me to go and find me one.

Recently, as weddings, engagements and proposals pop left, right, front, back and centre, I began to wonder if I am truly running out of time or missing on an experience. A few of my friends have suggested I try online dating. I am apprehensive, of course. I have heard of success romance and while I do not doubt it happens to other people, I just can't imagine myself doing it.

After much prodding from friends to try it, I succumbed and downloaded Tinder. In retrospect, the app is the best and the worst of its kind. It is an app that is shallowly based on a person's physical appearances. It didn't matter if you were kind or had brains. If you're hot, swipe right, if not, swipe left. As a user, you get addicted to the fact that you swipe left and right on people. I never met anyone through Tinder. Most of them do not initiate a conversation and those who do are usually douchebags who think I'm their next bootie call--which is interesting because I never upload a photo that is suggestive of that. My photos, I thought, were curated to show my personality--which wasn't sexy at all.

Everything is a fallacy.

Back in college, I had this Critical Thinking class that was part of our curriculum. It was basically an extra class for people to exercise their common sense and identify which of the truths provided are fallacies. Despite the fact that I didn't really see the point of taking that class, I enjoyed it and aced it. The reason I aced it was because I considered everything to be a fallacy, untruthful and I never trusted anyone. That is just how I am even in real life.

My lack of trust in humanity stems not from experience but from awareness of how people you do not know can disappoint you. I don't trust anyone I don't know because I have no reason to do so. To me, trust is earned and I don't just talk to people I don't know. My instincts in life have probably averted me from a lot of danger. I was pretty sensible as a kid and I always doubt everything everyone said.

In reality, I am also an introvert. When thrust into social circumstances, I do not become best friends with everyone immediately, I can do small talks from one person to another but nothing extremely sociable. I remember when I came to my current workplace, there were fifteen new staff. Everyone seemed to click with someone right away while I quietly minded my own business. If someone was around, I would create small talk but it wasn't an immediate connection. Almost two years later, everyone at work knows me as somebody who is pretty expressive and a bit crazy. And I've had people come up to me and tell me, "Wow, I did not expect that from you." Because I just don't show my cards straight away. I never reveal myself straight away.

"I know when that hotline bling,
That could only mean one thing"

Recently, I downloaded an app called Meetup, not to look for dates but just be aware of events around the city I live in. Interesting enough, someone found me. Apparently, I received a message over the holidays which I did not really see. The same person tried and messaged me again two weeks later. I decided to respond. Cautiously, of course. His first attempt to initiate a conversation was to ask me for my Line, WeChat or Skype account to chat instead. Obviously I did not give in. We chatted slowly, for a few more days where he claimed he lived in Los Angeles and was about to move here. A few days later, he asked me what platform I prefer to talk to. The only apps I really use are Whatsapp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Viber. In no way was I ever comfortable to give this person my number or my email address. I do have a Skype account and a WeChat. When I found out that you can use WeChat by just giving your username, I opted that platform.

There, we talked for a few more days. Until he asked me for a favour, to check out the place he's planning to rent.

The first thing I thought was, why would this person ask a complete stranger he met off the internet to go and check his potential place? Is he even a real person? What if he was a serial killer? I tried to change the topic and I successfully did. He started responding with one-word liners instead and stopped being witty. I knew he was losing interest. After a three days, he asks me again, "So you still won't help me view like I said."

I told him the truth: Sorry, I got called back to work early this week so I can't do it. Sorry. Place looks good though. True. I started working this week. And even if I didn't have the free time to do it, I still wouldn't.

He replies, "Fuck off."

Great attitude you have right there, thank you! I waited a few minutes to give him ample time before I blocked him off. Unlike Whatsapp or Facebook Message, theres no way to find out whether he's read the message so we'll never know if he did. I would have lashed out at him but I didn't know him enough to be that angry.

But it made me think of plenty scenarios how things could have gone differently. He could probably be a serial killer preying on girls, luring them on a fancy penthouse apartment. Or he could just really be an asshole who thinks girls will just drop everything and do stuff for them.

Trust your gut... 

unless you have bad instincts 

& make poor choices.

If there's ever a moral to this story, it would be to always trust your gut. If you have bad instincts, which some people unfortunately do, then look at things objectively and weigh the pros and cons. Even by some miracle, the pros seem to outweigh all the cons, then still be vigilant. Do not ever let your guard down. You don't know if people are honest or you're getting catfished. It's always easy to believe in the good and that true love and fairy tales happen. And I've been called a pessimist over and over but it's true, most of the time it doesn't.

I had a friend recently call me 'innocent' and that I should be careful. I think it's not necessarily the word I'd describe myself. I did the whole online thing because I knew myself, I'm way too cautious about things.

Ironically, the same douchebag told me that I should give people the benefit of the doubt. And sure, sometimes, you could give it, but never ever let your guard down fully. I am always apprehensive of the information I give out. And anybody who treads this realm should. Recently, there was news that people have been victimised in online. And sometimes I wonder why this even happens still.

I haven't decided whether I should delete my accounts on those apps just yet but I am definitely not active. Call me a romantic, but I am sort of still hoping that I might meet someone while I crowd-surf in a music festival or while I'm cruising through the aisle of memoirs or art books.

Ladies, stay classy and safe.


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