As technology takes over and becomes a major part of our life, it affects everything we are surrounded by. Everything is becoming technologically advance, from grocery shopping, to travelling, to even maintaining friendships. In this complex and constantly changing world, we tend to look for connections wherever we can find them.
With Taylor Swift singing in the background, hiding under a blanket to avoid the eyes of my roommate, I would cry my heart out. Things were not so great around this time a year ago. One of my low points, life was no less than a teenage drama series. Maybe it was the sadness of losing on a love interest, or the fact that I lost almost everyone I was close to. Every day, I would put my happy face on and repeat the same routine. I was scared to talk about all the things that had gone wrong. I wanted to distract myself. I wanted someone to pour out my heart to, but with losing out on people I considered my friends, there was not much.
For a person who was always on her toes, always running away from all the emotions by being under the umbrella of social gatherings, coming face to face with all those emotions standing like a gigantic rock right in front of my eyes was a huge distress. So, I packed all my insecurities, heartache and awkwardness in a baggage and found another medium to run away from it all. I decided to download Tinder, a dating app. I had always judged people for being on Tinder to “make friends”. For God sakes, it is a dating app! I never thought that I would be one of those people someday. NEVER.
I had my reservations about this app. I had seen my friends using it and their judgments about people as they swiped them left made me very resistant to make an account. I did not want to be another “Sushmita- The pastry chef” with a big nose and a weird smile. In spite of my initial hesitations, I setup a Tinder account.
I gave a lot of thought on deciding which pictures to upload, the order to align them in, so, they whisper a story. Trying to come up with the perfect bio to describe myself was the real task. A bio that talked about me yet did not make me come off as if I was trying too hard. Ending it with a “Not for hookups”, I was ready. Ready to explore.
For a person who had been in an all-girls educational institution all her life, seeing these many dishes on the platter was pretty amusing. I never thought I, this ugly little baked potato, would get this much attention. I was living Tina Belcher’s Fantasy without all the butt touching, of course, like I said “No hookups”. From being the person guys would hardly ever notice to the one who could choose people to talk to with a swipe was a big promotion. I was liking all the attention I was getting.
It did not take long to realize how entertaining Tinder really was. Hiding behind a black mirror, talking to people about the most random of things. To my surprise, most people I met through Tinder were incredibly interesting and did not seem to be affected by the fact that the meeting was initiated virtually. Once the relationship became less virtual and more “real”, it was eventually forgotten that we met on Tinder.
Everyone was a book, sharing stories of their triumphs and failures. From talking about the time I stuck an eraser up my nose to the time I ate an entire packet of snickers for lunch, every tiny detail was a door to another trip down the memory lane. Sharing of random yet silly incidents made the meet up much more interesting. It was like going through someone’s Instagram of memories, except it wasn’t open to all.
Tinder was both good and bad for me. Well, mostly good. It was a deeply positive experience for me. It helped me round up my personality and made me realize how much I looked down upon myself. I always saw myself as the one who did not matter much. Suddenly, the exposure to this arena of virtual reality, talking to new people every other day, made me much more confident in the person I was.
Through Tinder, I came across numerous people – some good, some bad, some who really did not make any difference. But all of them had a role to play in boosting my self-esteem. I never thought that I could be comfortable in being an ugly not-so-little baked potato that I am. I was happy with who I was. I wore my qualities like a tiara and took pride in my flaws. I was comfortable with my physical flaws because I genuinely felt I had the personality to make up for it. It helped me grow, become a better person. Tinder helped me become more intellectual. Coming from a small city, everything that seemed like a taboo, or “too much” turned out to be just simple day-to-day things.
It was all going great, like we display on our social media timeline. I wasn’t the Kritti, who “made a mess” out of herself over minor inconveniences; I was the constantly chirpy one again. People wanted to talk to me, hang out with me, suddenly I found myself with an abundance of friends. I never realized how much I had to share, I had this Pandora box full of silliest, embarrassing and deep memories. Even the time I fell off the stairs seemed interesting. Never in my life had I realized how obsessed I was with storytelling.
By sharing parts of my emotional baggage with various profiles, nobody really had the power to make me feel sad about myself. Indirectly, I became the in charge of my own happiness. Or, I just decided to hide behind a wall around my heart to keep negative emotions out. It was all working out almost perfectly, going out for dates or meetups, making friends and making memories. Life was suddenly brighter.
I never realized how easily replaceable people were. Every time someone left, with a few swipes I would replace them with someone else. It took me a while to realize how scary that really was. It takes years and numerous memories to make a bond what it really is. Then there was something that was helping me replace those people who once held the most important position in my life. I know, I was hurt, I tried my best to maintain the relationships I had lost. I chose to be the person who would not be stuck up on someone, so, I decided to not pay much heed to it.
I carried on swiping until I was surrounded by those Tinder profiles that had seeped into various other social network handles. People I shared memes with, replaced the ones I could share all my feelings with. It all started getting back to me, I was empty and hollow again. No one really meant much to me. I might share a great conversation with them, but not enough memories. Not enough feelings.
As the year ended, so did some of the new “genuine” friendships. As some of the new ones left, some of the old ones started coming back. Things were still fine, I was stronger. Emptier, but stronger.