#ShiftHappens Why deleting all my dating apps was one of the best things I've ever done
At the peak of my dating app usage, I had a grand total of three installed in my phone - Tinder, Bumble, and Her.
Tinder was the classic set up; a way to see who was around and source a few easy matches. Bumble was more of a novelty app where women having to send the first message apparently equaled Feminism™. And Her was just the all-female version of Tinder but with a questionable layout and a weird 'news' function that nobody understood.
Still though, all of my apps served a purpose - to acquire attention from strangers, accept validation where given, and feel mildly good about myself for a short to medium amount of time.
For a period in my life I could have been the Tinder poster girl. Any of my newly single friends who were wary about setting up an account were met with a "Nah girl do it, it's working great for me. Just teach yourself how to weed out the assholes." They were working for me and everything was grand.
Then one day, they stopped working. The fun and newness that I had used to associate with dating apps was replaced with the monotony and boredom of something that had long past its sell-by-date.
I was having the same conversations over and over again, blocking the same people when they tried to follow me on Instagram, and screenshotting the same weak opening messages to fire off into various group chats as I saw fit.
It wasn't fun but anymore but stopping felt like it would even less fun.
The prospect of just deleting the apps wasn't really an option I was willing to consider. It took me a while to realise that dating apps like Tinder operate in the same way as most social media sites do.
They tap into your absolute need to be liked and accepted, providing you with the means to create a version of yourself that you think will 'work.'
Tinder, like Instagram, is providing a function far beyond its app description, but instead of likes you've got matches, and instead of supportive comments you've got some lad sending you the eggplant emoji.
I weighed up my options and realised that being worried about hurting my chances of getting bare minimum attention from strangers on the internet by deleting Tinder was futile because I wasn't getting bare minimum attention from strangers on the internet as it was.
My Tinder/Bumble/whatever-else experience had turned into some sort of sad boredom-deterrent. A way to kill time while I commuted to work, or waited for my burrito bowl, or spent the day horizontal battling a hangover.
Swiping constantly wasn't the issue either - being notoriously picky and painfully suspicious of all men who I haven't spent at least eight hours of my time with meant that my swiping right was very limited - it was the feeling that I was playing a game and losing badly.
The Tinder app is styled like a deck of cards for a reason. It's designed to provide quick-fire entertainment featuring disposable people who are all there for one reason and one reason only - attention.
And sometimes it works out and you find yourself hanging out with somebody who wants the same things you do, that you're attracted to, and who doesn't send dick pics to your Snapchat at 10am on a Tuesday (unless requested).
And other times none of that happens and you're left feeling like a genuine toad who couldn't get a WhatsApp back if you were the last person with 3G on the planet.
So, weighing all of that up, I decided to just delete the apps and see how I got on and, unsurprisingly, it was grand.
Not having the option of having mundane conversations with people who were blatantly as disinterested in me as I was in them meant the fear of missing out all but dissipated overnight.
After all, how can you miss out on some random lad you've never met potentially sending you a drunken 'you out?' when the random lad doesn't have the means to contact you in the first place?
All of the sudden the mild, dull panic associated with sending the first message didn't have to be an issue anymore. It still was one thanks to the age-old experience of meeting people organically, but it wasn't as frequent as it used to be.
My standards immediately raised themselves too. Before deleting my dating apps, I had seen myself as a picky dater, not willing to take anything less than my questionable idea of perfect.
I hadn't been though. I'd dated people I wasn't attracted to and I'd gone out with people I blatantly knew I wouldn't get on with. The vast array of choice on apps meant that apparently everyone deserved a chance and if they weren't up to scratch there'd always be someone better waiting in the deck.
There wasn't though because the deck is just a representation of life anyway... if life was the Coppers smoking area and self-respect wasn't a thing.
In my younger, more naive years I'd often wondered how people found other people to date without social media.
Going out for a drink with someone without having lurked them to shreds on Instagram didn't make sense to me. What were you supposed to talk about if you didn't already know what they'd had for breakfast via a Boomerang earlier that day?
In a strange twist of events though, turns out people have been meeting each other organically for years. And they've been doing it without the crippling anxiety that comes with likes and texts back and matches that mean next to nothing.
In fairness, they must've been doing something right.