I had a busy day at work, followed by a run and some errands around the city. I felt accomplished, but once I was settled at my Brooklyn apartment, I was horny and bored; ultimately, it made me feel a bit lonely. It wasn’t a great combination of emotions.
I grabbed a political magazine from my bag and made my way to the park across the street.
Months earlier, I would have instantly logged on to OkCupid or Grindr or Tinder, depending on what I was looking for on that particular night. Witty conversation and sexy chatting would push the boredom from my mind until I realized my phone was almost dead and I had to be up for work in six hours. “I’ll write that short story another night,” I’d say to myself as I drifted into sleep.
Although I’m a writer who works full-time in social media, I’ve learned that our obsession with technology, online dating, and the digital world is slowly crafting mindless, dull Americans who can’t interact like authentic humans. Yes, that’s a little harsh, but I’ll just blame the aggression on my online-dating withdrawal. One can always make an excuse for their behavior, right?
One night in early March, I decided to delete my apps and dating accounts. A few egotistical thoughts crept into my mind: Will anyone miss our conversations? Will they wonder why I deleted my profile? What if “Brennan_TotalTop32” was my one true love?
In the weeks directly after, I slowly swapped out my digital time with activities that spawned creativity and action, such as exploring museums and parks in the Financial District during lunch, attending meet-ups and tech events and going on dates with men I met in person, in addition to reading, writing, and analyzing during my downtime.
Just like with a breakup, I thought about my apps less and less until my new habits were safely in place. I wonder what I’ll write about tonight, I’d think on the subway home.
Given my plea for gay males to delete their accounts, I’d like to note that I’m not a spoiled, naive millennial who believes that dating and hookup apps are the downfall of modern gays. Twenty years ago, the Internet was a place for LGBT people to meet others like them for chat, love, and sex. Homophobia inspired gay men and women to interact safely online, as the real world was oftentimes a harsh place for LGBT folks. In 2015, gay-related apps are a way to get exactly what we want; oftentimes, as soon as possible.
Apps, social media, and online dating are supposed to add to our lives. They shouldn’t be a complete focus or motivation, especially for a community that still needs to fight for full equality.
Over the past five months, I’ve learned that it’s OK to be bored or lonely.
It inspires you to be busy and creative. It allows you to strike up a conversation with the handsome man standing next to you on the subway. It actually helps you find an answer to a hard yet under-asked question: What am I really looking for in a partner?