Life has become a tightrope balancing act of communication. Punctuation holds so much meaning in an instant message culture where you’re one exclamation point away from being ghosted. Ghosting itself is a term spawned from modern interaction. Not opening a message so someone doesn’t get the read receipt is common practice. In an attempt to reach a hand out of a bog of confusion, these are some stories of a point of view from some of my tightropes. I’m sure you can relate, but I’m hoping you can’t.
Tightrope #1: A couple times a month I go to shows alone. If I make eye contact with an attractive human, I cannot approach them because there’s a stigma of a man only wanting sex or being a douchy cat caller. If I don’t say anything, I’m a coward who can’t “man up” to approach a woman. My experience on dating apps has been confusing. I'm like a product displayed in a window. If I get a match and message first, I better have the most perfect thing to say. If you ask to meet in person too soon though, you’re a creep. If you don’t ask soon enough, interest is lost.
I’ve also learned that it’s common practice to use your Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, etc as a spot for advertising. Cam girls pushing their videos and profiles. Artists or writers telling you to check out their work. “I’m normally not on (insert app), follow me on insta!”.
My first time realizing this, I had matched with a writer. She mentioned loving Sylvia Plath. As a fan of Bell Jar, I opened with something along those lines. Never heard back from her. I followed her on Instagram as she mentioned to do, thinking this might be a bridge to the otherside. Couple weeks went by, never heard from her. Every once and awhile she posted something inspiring, but racy selfies were more common. At one point she called her cat a “stupid bitch” in her story so I unfollowed. About two weeks later, I’m walking into a bar and hold the door open for someone. Right behind him is this girl. Her face is pressed in to her phone, oblivious to anyone around her. Reminded of her, I pull up her Instagram while waiting for the first band to start. She had an artistic picture of a vintage appliance which I found interesting and clicked like. Not even a minute later she messaged me calling me out on not following her but still liking her posts. As one of her (former) 700+ followers, I ask how I was even on her radar for an unfollow. She informs me she has an app that notifies her of who and when someone unfollows her.
Tightrope #2: I was at the grocery store picking out a donut and a man of another ethnicity asked me if I’d tried the one he was loading a box with. I said no and he gave me a sales pitch with a huge smile. He was pretty close to purchasing all of them so I laughed and said “dude, don’t take them all”. He turned to me with a sober face “I’m not.” I Immediately felt regret having commented at all.
Along the same lines I was at a party where someone’s sister brought an awesome dessert. I was under the impression she worked an office job so I made a joke saying “did you snag that from the break room?”. She is of a different ethnicity as I and as soon as I said that, she gave me a gasped look. I realized what I said had come across racist.
Tightrope #3: A couple nights ago I had a dream where a friend died. I was criticized for mourning at the funeral with comments along the lines of "you don't know them". This feeling happens in real life. I’ll mention liking a band or a video game and got damn if I know anything about it, the other person knows so much more. How dare I think I enjoy the band as much as they. Conversations about something we both enjoy are a waste of time. Get your dick out and try to pee harder and farther.
An old friend use to tell me that good intentions pave the way to hell. I understand that actions speak much louder than words and the first step to not being an asshole is to not be an asshole. The issue is every chance for communication is a black diamond hill. *CAUTION ALL WHO PARTICIPATE*
Maybe I’m becoming more sensitive and aware. Maybe times have changed and everyone should be watching exactly what they say. Vulnerable and real are common trait requests from other humans. Most of us desire "real", but where are the opportunities to practice this “real”? Where is the flexibility to let a scab heal? I'm towing the line of feelings and sharing with this essay, yet I still feel guilt. Where is the exit to this circus act?