The Meaty Part of the Curve
Are you doomed if you’re looking for intelligence in romance in our current age?
I harbor no illusions of meeting anyone who is actually going to be a fit or what I'm looking for on a dating site; not because of the agency of dating sites, but because the person I am seeking is, I believe, an exceedingly rare, one-in-many millions person, and if she exists, my feeling is she'd make herself known to me—or we'd come to meet each other—through some other means.
Something not predictable or downloadable. Maybe she reads these words and the work and we enter into each other's orbit through a note that comes in, or later on when I am where I wish to be and more roads lead to my proverbial door, on account of visibility, what have you. But right now, I try to remain sanguine, try to realize that there are people, or could be, for all kinds of things that are not perhaps that ultimate, most important thing. There might, for instance, be a series of exchanges, a friendship even if of lukewarm sort, a person you go to the movies with every now and again, something informally sexual, maybe one person leads you to meet someone else with whom there is something of greater consequence. You never know, even though you think you know, and I am fairly certain I know, and my experience has certainly come to know.
The profiles, with exceedingly rare exception, say the exact same things. There will be a nattering on about how someone is living their best life, they are a simple girl (I’m not “girl-ing” anyone; this just happens to be the phrase commonly deployed) looking for a simple guy, they don't take themselves "too serious"—nor adverbs—and they just want someone "chill," and all they care about in life is Netflix and The Office—not even the good version of The Office—and apparently puns. (Disclaimer: I make no argument that female profiles are in any way worse than male profiles. It’s just that I am not looking at those, though I’m pretty certain there’s a kind of unilateral-ness across the boards here.)
A huge number of people who say they love puns. I don't get it. I've never met anyone who honestly loves puns and orientates their life and social life around the promulgation of them. I mean, James Joyce? He could make the pun remark if the post-WWI Dublin version of Tinder had existed. But really? That many pun-buffs?
Your mind rots and leaks out your ears, because it's almost impossible to see a single original thought on something like a dating app, but I don’t think it’s the fault of the gear, so to speak, so much as what the gear brings out in people. The stultifying sameness. Then there is the raving animus, the people whose entire profile is the statement that they hate cops, and you should, too, or you can go (expletive) yourself. Honestly. That's what people say. And the first and only thing, often, too! The first thing you know about them is hate-related. Um…that sees less than ideal? Can you imagine the disaster someone like that would be in your life? Unless, of course, you were one of them; then the weeds can grow side by side, which weeds seem to dig. Great if you’re a weed, not if you’re not.
I don't put my name up on there, because why would I? It’s easy enough for the world to track me down as it is. My name-de-app, at present, is a reference to a ghost in a Shakespeare play, which, of course, very few people get. But this is how my profile reads:
Feel like the spirit from Macbeth.
A specter who is shocked at this point when encountering a profile showing a ghost of thought or originality.
Interests: Growth, art, open minds, words, nature, hockey, museums, vim, character, fitness, strength, loyalty, command of language.
No interest in: Acronyms, emojis, declarations about best lives, photo filters.
Your age and location matter less to me than the person—and individual—you are. Everything else is bridgeable.
Sounds reasonable, right? That's at a bare minimum. Fitting that bill would not make you some world-beater of brilliance and the self-examined life. It's my kind of basic bare minimum if we're going to talk. Do I seem like someone who is going to hang out with a lot of people who spell every other word wrong, stick seven acronyms in every text, and have a collection of photos of themselves with the dog filter setting and who self-define as simple? Probably not, right? Is that my right? Yep. Is that hurting anyone? Nope. Does it hurt me that this is the extreme rarity right now, any interest in any intelligence? Yep, a lot. You know what happens? People I have no interest in, who have no interest in me (so, this morning, a twenty-four-year-old woman with the inevitable rainbow filters, expressed love of polyamory, photos of herself in an almost total absence of clothing (along with the requisite shot of Elizabeth Warren), a BLM hashtag, and a cashapp address so you can buy her feet picture) write me telling me to die, to kill myself—that is, once you manage to decipher the message—which is pretty common.
For the above Tinder bio. People tell you to kill yourself. People who spend their days on social media telling other people what sterling people they are. With the right stickers on their lap tops. People filled to the brim with so much self-hatred that any intelligence, or anything they worry they should possess and do not possess (or fear they don’t—two different things), causes them to attack. And the bigger the gap is, or is perceived to be, the more ferocious the attack. The more crazed. They are not always liberals, but they usually are. That's not agenda on my part. I have no agenda, certainly no political agenda. That's eyeballs.
I, like many artists before me, am neither liberal nor conservative. Nor a centrist. My party is human growth, self-awareness, truth, helping others, my policy living your life like a thrown knife--meaning, daily advancing, and evolving even in those hard, lonely times when endurance, if it could be mustered by someone else, would be more than enough. I will not pick nor vote for the "less bad." I don't do less bad. I strive for maximum good. And whether that is or is not available in a political party, I think we are always tasked with finding it elsewhere in pockets and corners of life, and if we find it elsewhere all along, political parties mean very little.
But that is hard, and it is much harder than getting wine drunk and being a banshee on social media and collecting some likes from friends who are not really your friends so you can feel like you have friends and tell yourself how important you are, a cycle of behavior and illusion-building that involves a lot of projected hate. Crucial tool. The act of keeping scales on eyes requires an outreach program of antipathy called something else. Like, virtue. Tolerance. Social justice.
How do I respond to these people? Because I do respond. I say the truth. I say that surely this is not a fruitful use of their time, and that perhaps they should work on anger issues before seeking a relationship, and in the meanwhile, maybe it'd be better to take a run, talk to someone, read a book, rather than contact a stranger who has done nothing wrong and nothing wrong by them to tell that stranger to hang themselves in a basement.
And you know what occurs? They get far angrier than if I had called them (insert term deemed appropriately horrid/offensive). Because of the truth. That's why I don't use my name. Not that I really care if someone like that writes me at my site--I probably wouldn't even read it--but there's a math component to my life right now that deals in cutting out the stressors I can cut out because everything else is a maxed out hell, and a number of those maxed out forms of hell are things I have to deal with right now and overcome. A toxic person with anger issues and all-consuming insecurity that results in hate and threats—I get enough of the all-consuming insecurity issues resulting in full-on hate with a lot of the publishing industry—is not someone or something I need to deal with and overcome.
I have no doubt that these people do a version of this all day, every day. The more insecure something makes them feel, the angrier they get. (This is true of everyone in life, whatever label the person gets—friend, family member; it's why the most mundanely mediocre people seem to do just fine, haven't any shortage of people around, no dearth of Twitter followers, relationships as such, etc.) This can make me a target of targets. I've known people who hated me, wanted me dead, become obsessed with me, who later found out more about me and my work, and hated me more because of the depth and volume of that work and the capabilities of that mind. There's a direct correlation.
How much darkness do you have to have in your heart to send screeds to people you don't know whom you don't wish to know whom you have nothing to do with personally or professionally?
There was a time I'd feel sorry for someone like that (and I guess I still do on some level, but I don’t want to), but I know they are so malevolent in their fury that they would literally set you on fire if they could get away with it. This is one of the main problems of the world. It's not a politician. It's the preponderance of behavior like this, which is becoming a new and sanctioned norm. Here is your death of society, culture, and connection.
Happy to watch the British version of The Office with you, though. Masterpiece!