Please don’t complain to me about literally anything if you’ve touched human flesh since March. Being very single, I have not, and my Grubhub guy doesn’t want a hug. So I am doomed, instead, to online dating in the context of a pandemic. Let me walk you through the torture. It starts typically enough, with endless scrolling through profiles of now-offensively-irrelevant travel photos. No one asks “How’s it going?” anymore; the new opener is “Picked up any new hobbies?” I can’t help but respond: “No, unless you count screaming into the void.” If they find me cute-funny, we arrange a FaceTime or Zoom, the latter being preferable for its “Touch up my appearance” feature. We talk and misread glitching, pixel-blurred facial cues and, if all goes tolerably, make it to first base (a socially distanced park sit). Goodbyes, whether on a screen or IRL, are harder than ever. “All right … well … anyway,” someone mumbles, straining to find an excuse, even though—amid mass boredom—there isn’t one. Worse still is saying goodbye for good. A week after a third date that fizzled into mutual boredom, I got an “I’m not feeling the spark” text. Same, but, ouch? Another person sent me an unprompted “I’m not looking for a relationship” text four days after our last interaction, in which I did not ask for a relationship. Whatever happened to ghosting? Maybe it used to be “rude” and “detrimental to both parties’ mental health” (actual quotes), but that was pre-Covid. I no longer need your attempts at nobility, reminders of a flesh-and-blood humanity made irrelevant by contactless existence. Ghosting is more suitable to the times. It’s silent, it’s safe, it conforms to the unbearable lightness of our disembodied beings. Besides, look around. It’s 2020, and nobody expects a happy ending.
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