One of my biggest fears is that I will grow old alone. One of my second biggest fears is that I will grow old coupled with someone I met on Tinder and one day, as I’m knitting by an open hearth, surrounded by fat, cherubic grandchildren, one of those grandchildren will look up, his face illuminated by the glow from the fire, and say, ‘Nanna, tell us about how you met Granddad.’
And I’ll have to explain about the loneliness of London in 2015, and the vacuity of a society where your only viable route, if you were in the market for a relationship, was to rifle through digital photographs of strangers until you happened upon one you could stomach. I’ll have to tell them about iPhones, dick-pics and the acronym ‘lol’. I’ll describe awkward first-dates where you both drank too much sour white wine and told each other sad stories about your most recent ex, before returning to his mildewed apartment to have graceless stranger-sex under a stained blue duvet. “And that’s how I got pregnant with Mummy.” I will say, clicking my knitting needles together and staring into the middle distance, my glaucomic eyes filmy with nostalgia.
No! NO! Dear God, no. This simply cannot be allowed to happen. The story of my love life must not involve an iPhone. Which is why I was more pleased than most commenters when I saw the short film, ‘Offline Dating’ currently doing the rounds online. In ‘Offline Dating’ Tom Greaves prowls the streets of London asking unsuspecting ladies for a date.
Some women have objected to this video on the grounds that it is sexist. They believe that a woman should be able to walk down the street without unsolicited offers of male company that might turn into romance. I disagree. Primarily because I want to have babies, and I can’t make them all alone (and, as I’ve already mentioned, I’d like a fairy-tale love-story to tell my grandchildren).
Inviting a woman you don’t know out for a drink on the basis that you saw her and thought her lovely is a charming, chivalrous act – so long as you ask nicely, don’t touch her and take no for an answer. Also, do not make sexual comments about her body. Tom appears to adhere to these basic rules, although he loses points for the systematic nature of his approach – he soon learns that ladies do not like it when you ask their mate out first – and for having his friend hovering in the background, recording the whole thing on an HD camera.
Some other women have objected to the film because it is potentially fictional. (Tom is an actor and so, possibly, are some of the women he approaches). But I don’t think it matters either way. ‘Offline Dating’ simply reminds us that humans are sexual, social beings, capable of relating to one another in the flesh world.
I cannot remember the last time a man asked me out in person. It seems like an antiquated, romantic practice from an historical novel. The last few times I have been asked on a date it has occurred through Tinder, Twitter and the Facebook messaging app. This is supremely unsatisfying. Digital communication is flat and dull and cowardly. A screen cannot recreate the delicious chemistry of pheromones, breath and eye-contact – of the electric tingle that enlivens your whole body when you brush against the arm of someone you really want to fuck.
I understand that face-to-face is hard. I haven’t asked anyone out recently either. Rejection hurts, and it hurts worse if the person doing the rejection has to look you in the eye. But without pain, there is no pleasure. What we need is a love revolution, a turn away from the cynical marketing ploys of companies who want to charge you for meeting a stranger. ‘Offline Dating’ shows us that there are strangers, everywhere, free of charge and often good-looking. If the film acts as a catalyst for a return to offline dating, I’m all for it. In fact, I am going to ask the next hot man I see for a drink – at least if he rejects me, the pain will be real.
Katie Beswick - glitterforgrownups.wordpress.com