A few weeks ago, I was on Tinder, the popular dating app, and low and behold after a few swipes, I was faced with my ex-fiancé. After my initial shock, I did what anyone would do in this situation; I looked at her pictures, read her description, and then had a decision to make. What I was faced with was a second chance, as I was now armed with far more information than a brief, snapshot of potential love. I knew this person on a deeper level, and I could see far beyond the shallow surface before me. The question that I was faced with was, “Would I ever want to reconnect with her again?”
When I came upon my big Tinder decision, I realized that I no longer felt a deep connection with her, and in fact, was not attracted to her as I once might have been if she had been a stranger I stumbled upon by chance as I knew her personality and flaws which cut deeper than the façade which Tinder provided. I felt myself let go of some anger, as at that moment she became a very ugly person to me. I felt sad for her and for the loss of connection we both experienced. At one time, we had been vulnerable together, insecurities and all. Now, we were both trying to reconnect with others based solely on fleeting impressions. I swiped left.
However, the entire episode got me thinking about the essence and lack of human connection we face on a daily basis and, specifically, the loneliness I felt after we had broken up. Throughout Tinder, many people claim they are looking for a deep relationship and no “hook ups” while others just want to swipe right for the opportunity to chat with another person. Yet, if we knew people on a deeper level, would it affect which way we swipe? Is this how human connection has evolved or is it simply a lack of connection and willingness to be vulnerable in every day interactions as a result of our insecurities that has led to this artificial connection?
Most of life is spent in the day-to-day or what I call the “in-between”. We get up, go to the bathroom, drink coffee, go to work, go to the bathroom again (if we’re lucky), come home, eat and go back to sleep. Repeat. During this time, we are simply our raw, emotional selves full of hope, goals, and desires. However, with the advent of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tinder, our perceptions of reality and connection have become skewed. Pictures of that night out at a super exclusive club or of delicious food we’ve never heard of at a restaurant we’ll never go to along with engagements, weddings, and babies bombard our own personal newsfeed. All of this creates the fear of missing out, or FOMO, that promotes a state of loneliness during that in-between time in which we should be content just being.
We think, “If I’m not out having the time of my life or with someone who loves me, what’s wrong with me?” However, when we are alone, which is most of the time (as we are always with ourselves!), we do not need to be lonely. Loneliness is really just a symptom of disconnection as a result of our own insecurities and lack of self-worth. Curing this disease starts with a decision to be happy with whatever it is we decide to embark upon. There will always be an infinite number of activities we could be doing, or people we could be doing them with, but being secure in our own journey ultimately creates connection with others. The alternative is being so indecisive that we end up truly alone.
As I’ve written before, self-love is a major step in reconnecting with others and finding meaning, as we first must enjoy our own company before we can invite others into our lives. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is by being vulnerable or put another way, being open to others acceptance of our flaws. Vulnerability is sexy, real and true. There are no games or judgments as it promotes the very connection that we are unable to obtain through surface interactions via polished, segmented and specifically chosen glimpses into our “lives.” The in-between is where we live at our core: the thinking, examining, and emotional states that lead us to take action and be great, unique people. What social media can never capture is our individual spirit that makes those around us want to connect to us in the first place.
I’m content with my “in-between” because it means I’m being true to myself and genuine, a trait that I look for in others as well. When I swiped left, I got the rare opportunity to truly move-on and while it’s easier to connect with people more than ever, the quality of that connection can only be measured by our willingness to be open, honest and true. I was vulnerable with my ex in the past and will continue to allow myself to be so with others in the future because I’m not afraid to let others see who I am even it means that I too eventually get “swiped left.”
By Brian Jaffe