The night stretches a lumpy blanket across you just after midnight. The gummy pages of vintage books you have not yet read make piles against the Ikea double bed you optimistically bought, thinking, perhaps, that moving away from those who found you unworthy of their attention might remove the ugly mark from your forehead. You shift unhappily; though your new home is bright and airy in daytime, night reminds you that you are not a figure who invites romance. You do not deserve it.
Your phone buzzes, and lifting the hair from your face, you pick it up to look, because, well, you are not asleep. It is the OKCupid app. It tells you that 25 year old 0man0man0man4 really likes you!
The profile is a list of banal likes or cliches, of edgeless admittance to ‘guilty pleasures’ or misspellings, grammar mistakes, or a list of what makes you crazy or a bitch or maybe it’s just the picture seems to echo your own melancholy self-hatred. Or perhaps he just has a stupid haircut that reminds you that you have no soul if you’ve prejudged a man on his looks.
This is the wasteland of humanity, you think to yourself. The more you would like to be attracted to a set of Breaking Bad enthusiasts with Instagram photos, the more you begin to hate yourself. The more you wish you were a ruthless man-eater who moves out of one man’s house and into another like a fickle leaf on a wind, the less you like yourself. The more you would like to be dramatically in love with someone who, this time, won’t promise you adventures together and then ever after ‘forget’ to invite you anywhere, or will scrub you for career hookups every time you’d rather just have a beer and talk about… well, Breaking Bad.
This is how you look to them. This is how you look to everyone on OKCupid. The way you are thinking of these people is exactly the thing that makes anyone who you might even remotely date rather jump into a vat of rabid bears. You are revolting.
Perhaps it is the actual act of being a writer that makes me hate it so much: the endless assumption that if I write something interesting enough, a person who is completely outwith my friendship circle and who has never met me will see my intrinsic value, and message me for a date. I tried it for a while, I tried to be funny and provide little tips as to what sort of food I liked to eat, tried to indicate the breadth of my travelling, my interest in technology, history, my fascination with the medium of radio, my relentless silly outlook: I tried to be bright and welcoming. I guess like every other banal disappointment in the listings.
Someone contacted me to tell me that he thought it was morally wrong to eat meat because cows have feelings and said that therefore eating burgers made me a horrible person who should be ashamed of herself. In fact, many men contacted me to tell me that I had abhorrent interests or that liking videogames, for example, was awful (perhaps they had a point, I write a column about terrible iPhone games, but it was rude to message me to tell me this). It was baffling: like letting a hundred industrious ice sculptors swarm in to chip away at all the beautiful self-confidence I had spent so much time regaining since I left school at seventeen. I worked hard on this, guys. I worked hard on this self-esteem. I know I am supposed to value your opinion over mine but objectively speaking I am extremely hot.
After that, I removed most of the intimate details of my life that made me an interesting person, just said I was a writer, and that you could find me in the pub, both of which are my truest personal facts, facts that would probably be written through me if you broke me in half. I have had less attention since then, and lord, am I happy about it.
I message those I deem 1) literate 2) cute and 3) succinct [this assists 1]. I also rule out dating anyone who has any mutual friends of mine because it has gone so wrong for me in the past that I might never recover. This means I’ve only ever messaged about three people through hundreds of ‘matches’ OK Cupid throws up. I have never received any messages back: I assume because I am an ugly carnivore videogamer.
The things I have learned from this app are thus: that I am a horrible person for existing, that I am a horrible person for not replying, that I am not good enough for those men I ask out, that I am not good enough for the men I do not ask out, and that videogames are, apparently, awful.
I have deleted the app and bought about five tubs of ice cream to assist me in my journey into Never Passing My Genes On To The Future Human Race.