I am one of those people who suffers from depression for no particular reason. Just very lucky, I guess. Christmas is guaranteed to bring the moving men into my brain for a sustained period of time. They have already been here for a while and seem to have made themselves comfortable with tea and biscuits. I wish they would fuck off.
I really didn’t need the added stress of my experiment with online dating. Thankfully the month on Guardian Soulmates, which was starting resemble a crawl along a country road in night fog, is drawing to a close in a few days. It has been exhausting, not terribly amusing (Tinder was far better for that particular characteristic) and about as pointless as sorting your biros into working and non-working piles. Well actually the latter gives you a sense of achievement. A working biro is a fine thing. Guardian Soulmates has played easily to my confirmation bias: it is replete with divorced men, anxious to show you they are modern with the right ‘isms’ (feminism) and none of the wrong ones (racism). As I’ve already written here, they are a judgemental lot, these lefty, non-smoking, vegan types but then I’ve increasingly come to believe that the modern lefty (unlike the more authentic ones of say 30 years ago) deals in absolutes. And has no sense of fun. My most overriding impression of Guardian Soulmates was a palpable lack of any sense of fun, though plenty of men were at pains to inform me they did indeed have adventures. But all I found were a lot of men trying to play catch up in their lives. Not a good look.
Online dating is not like dating. It is not dating at all. It is more like trying to win back your losses at a casino. Everyone around me is doing it, attempting to leave with a net gain. After every stream of messages that ends in absolutely nothing you know, deep down, that you should go home but here you are, in the early hours of the morning searching for that big hit that will obliterate all previous disasters. You get a few desultory payouts from the poker machines, a dribble of coins, but nothing you can build on. Now the place is pretty much deserted, but you still think you must be able to strike gold. You are in that danger zone, the one where you are unable to recognise an unattractive proposition and so you keep going back for more. Clocks? What clocks?
As the tables clear you take what little sanity/dignity/respect you have left and head for the cloakroom. There are already people going back in for more. It’s highly addictive, this promise of potentially unlimited winnings. It just might happen. But it probably won’t. While the online dating world offers seemingly infinite potential – and I would suggest that is its real attraction rather than finding the one – it’s mostly just a fabrication of our ideals. And that is why it is so attractive both to those who are fearful of life and those who fantasise about it. The fact that very little actually happens doesn’t trouble them. As long as they can keep visiting and pretend that it will happen, they are almost doing it. And for most people, that seems to be enough.