The apps are there, the profiles are active but the people… they've logged off.
I'm a serial dater. Some people paint, draw, journal – I date. Dating keeps me across all of the conventions and dynamics of our society, the shifts and the shafts (wink). It primes me for interaction with any sector of civilisation, it readies my communicative intellect and opens my mind to new thoughts, possibilities, complexities and orgasms.
So right now – in the thick of my Melbourne lockdown, I'm a little mad, perplexed and disheartened. The state of dating in a COVID lockdown is hardly existent. The apps are there, the profiles are active but the people… they've logged off. So I want to know, is it just me or are we just not keen on dating anymore?
Through an Insta call out, I detected the popularity of holding back from digital dating in Melbourne. People just don't want to do it anymore.
Ellie from Melbourne is done. "I've given up…Dating apps feel like mindless scrolling on Insta [and] the curfew cuts options right in half," she says, before explaining that she's had it with the walking dates and the boring monotony that is the topic of the month (year) – COVID-19.
"'How's lockdown treating you? Shit, you? Shit. Cool…' It's almost like everyone is sitting dormant."
To Ellie and many others who are used to the thriving lifestyle that dating brings, it seems a sombre dullness has shrouded this activity. There's no more spice. Literally, no more life.
I can't help but wonder if the global stress has created a sense of rebooting or solo contentment for the dating pool. Have people resorted inwards to get in touch with their needs, wants and desires within? Are people finding love in Christ? Could it be that people are flicking their beans and batting their bats well enough on their own to even consider the attention of others? Tips please!
Having much concern and many a question, I had a chat with Brisbane-based sexologist, Naomi Hutchings, to tap into the general psyche of singletons right now.
"Most of my clientele are from Melbourne!" she exclaims. "I think for some people they've just turned off and some people still struggle with the idea of meeting someone and having relationships online."
We laugh about how we rely on our phones and the internet for our banking, home needs, work and essentially most communication… but there still remains the stigma of prolonged online relationships.
"Why wouldn't you think it extends to relationships?" says Naomi. "For some people, they're nervous and frightened to put it all out there… online dating is a thing but we haven't really talked about dating skills and how to date, even before all this [the 'Vid]."
It seems like people are still interested in others, but they can't seem to stand the test of time. They're nervous about introducing intimacy – whether emotionally or physically – to the online space. She thinks it's pretty intimate in itself to even show someone your bedroom through Zoom.
Naomi says that many people are facing a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, it's a time for them to work on their own energy and look at self in order to get through the days. For many, they're too exhausted to create new relationships and talk to strangers when they can't even figure out how they're feeling.
"I know people who have decided they're not dating until everything opens up again," says Naomi. "They'll use this time to concentrate and do some self-work… they've just gone really inward, [they're saying] 'This is where I'm at because the world's a bit scary and unpredictable at the moment'."
But I'm a little hung up on something: our fear of intimacy online. I thought that the veneer of the online format always made things easier for us – our generation had hacked the impossible, we were able to make our lives seem euphoric with the touch of our fingers and the tweak of some dials.
And we love technology, right? I thought we were the generation of Catfishes, playlist makers, creators of super drawn out 'things' with no labels. All things casual, despite physical contact or otherwise, we are meant to be good at teasing, at stretching things out and talking shit. But it seems like now is not the time for shit talking, it's pretty real.
"We haven't always talked much about the way people are – and having so many things to do – we have been forced now to stay insular, it has made people realise that we need to connect outside of just drinking at the pub," says Naomi.
But for most, we can't.
It's interesting to think that despite growing up in the age of technology, most of us having our own phones at the peak of our social blooms – our teens – we sure don't know how to use them. Perhaps we just don't know how to communicate when things are tough, period.
Naomi got her first phone when she was 24, she thinks that may have something to do with how worried the younger generation are about communicating in general. As communication moves further into the digital realm, we lose social cues from in-person interaction that are so integral to developing communication skills in our early years.
"It's a wonderful point to think about skills in communication, there's a lot of misunderstanding, no tones with text and miscommunication!"
Yet despite the generational pandemic of shitty commination skills, as well as the literal pandemic, not everyone is taking a break. Some, like myself, want to work their dating muscle.
Grace is almost 25 and she's expecting a long term relationship soon to align with what she calls her 'Timeline.'
"I'm getting back into online dating because the chance of meeting someone in person is becoming less and less likely, and my CLOCK IS TICKIN'," she says.
Grace is serious about getting serious but she's also in it for the gags. "Online dating can be a mindless activity to take up a bit of time in my boring day!" she says.
At the crux of it, online dating still isn't for everyone, even though it's all some of us have to create new connections with. We also need to remember that there's something bigger at hand here, the bloody apocalypse is looming and no matter what, COVID-19 will dominate any and all conversations right now. So maybe it isn't the most exhilarating time to date.
So write in that diary, fill that Love Honey cart, drink that home-made brew and work on you, baby, because by the looks of it, everybody could do with a communication skills tune-up. Embrace romantic literature and light a candle, because when we get out of this mess we can redefine our generational flaws.