It’s 2am, I just spent the evening at a club drinking tea (it’s complicated) while pretending I can’t see guys ogling my dress. I am showered but the cigar smoke is still in my hair, so here I am on my balcony trying to air it out. I am also whatsapping a friend in New York, she wants to see what “airing” one’s hair looks like, so I send a selfie.
“Ooh sexy,” she types back.
“Think it will get me a date?” I quip with a laughing emoji. There is context to this but that’s another post. So begins an idea.
I have a vested interest in online communities, mostly because I am trying to figure out a way to get a PhD out some of them. On a deeper level most of my closest friends live in different cities/countries/continents (I also don’t get out much), so the internet is our best way to connect and keep up with each others lives. I wrote a piece just over a year ago about Tinder and the confusions it is causing in the dating scene and how we need to redefine what we are looking for online. I still stand by that piece, but last night I had to ask myself a deeper question: can a simple photograph (selfie) get me a date?
I have a point, I promise.
Think about it, how many of us communicate with each other by way of photographs? To share where we are, what we are doing and wearing? Even to share who we are with. It is part of our culture, a very important part of it.
I was added to an online group a few weeks ago about dating, ordinarily I would remove myself from groups like this but something about this community got my attention. Yes, it is a community of people who support each other and there is no negativity just fun and hopefully a match or two. But what was most fascinating was the redefinition of the selfie culture that exists there. It is used to ask questions, respond to questions and explain the current mood. The conversation is the selfie and it communicates bundles. It is so much easier for people to post a selfie than to engage in comments or otherwise. No one set the rule, at least I don’t think so, it’s just the way it is and it is acceptable. The norm, even.
We would all be lying if physical attributes are not the biggest contributors to attraction. It is what gets you interested, a person’s mind and other attributes may keep you interested but it is their physicality that gets you thinking of them without prior contact. More and more we live in a beautified world and we can’t blame it all on the media anymore. There is a strange sense of voyeurism that currently exists on social media that allows us to celebrate beauty in a new and fascinating way. A place where we know is cruel to women and ugly to people that don’t fit the unrealistic/predefined standards of beauty. Yet, there is a strange confidence that selfies bring. There is a quasi-Jungian persona that we have gained in the post-self conscious era. The selfie generation have taken what the ancients used to call “fatum”, to us destiny into their own hands. Selfies create a tapestry of words that culminate in an exquisite, sublime conversation. To outsiders it might look like the tactics of vanity, to the players it is simply the only way they know how to move on the chessboard and the best steps to the dance they own.
If anything you need to respect the courage of the quasi-Jungian persona, to pitch oneself out for date, with the danger that no one will respond. The fragility of ego for some could easily send them into a panic attack. No matter what your judgement is, the pseudo-intellectuals will have reason to disagree, it is ballsy. Selfies become the currency of conversation for the soft spoken, the brazen and the fierce, there is no way to lose if you were never prepared to win.
But back to my question: can this selfie get me a date? It turns out it can, several in fact, my dad should be happy; pity they don’t live in the same country. Selfies as part of the dating currency and it makes perfect sense, just look at Tinder. Even when you are set up by friends, they use photographs to convince you to say yes or no. Blind dates aren’t so “blind” anymore because we stalk them on social media, because we need to be prepared. It is simply who we are.