For the sake of my mental health, I decided to go for walks. This isn’t a new thing for me; in the past, it was what I did almost every day after work. It started off as something more serious – I’d walk and began pushing myself further until it was a sprint, a job, a run.
These days though, I walk in hopes to build some strength back in my lungs.
And, of course, to people watch.
For those wondering, people-watching is essential to creative writing – be it fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Jose Skinner taught me of its importance, though it had been a pastime of mine for some time.
When you observe your surroundings with a creative eye, you register things that would otherwise be overlooked. The way a young wife moves away from her husband when he sits next to her. Or how a child darts across the street while his mother scrolls across the screen of phone. Or the mannerisms of a young couple.
They paid no mind to the scent of rain that lingered in the air; they were more focused on studying each others smile. The groove between their hands, their teeth. With the first drops, she pulled him into the open space. They wrapped their arms around each other.
It took me back to a moment in life. One taken for granted. When a girl pulled me outside to kiss in the rain.
A few years ago, I met different women on an app called Whisper. This wasn’t a dating app, but an anonymous social networking platform in the vein of Post Secret. Users could use the app to confess secrets they wouldn’t admit to in person. Other users could reply to these posts – called whispers – stating they too had said issue or secret. Whispers can range from something innocent to something a little more adult.1
My intention wasn’t to use the app to meet people, but I didn’t shy away from the possibility. It was a rough time in my life. I was both a new father and newly single – two things that I didn’t expect would come hand in hand.
Most of these women were platonic, but some became romantic interests – or, at the very least, sexual interests.
Despite such occurrences, I don’t consider myself as someone knowledgeable when it comes to online dating apps. I have used MeetMe, but I am a veteran of the app’s previous incarnation – if it’s still an app, that is.2 I have also used Tinder, though not for its intended purposes – or even its most commonly used purpose. After entanglements with married women – yes, married women – I made it my mission to avoid any and all romantic relationships. I wasn’t in a good place or headspace to date; my vulnerability and fear of aloneness needed to be sorted out. This of course didn’t play well with one woman I met on Tinder.
The idea of being more than just friends has popped up since then. I am accustomed and comfortable in my singlehood, but can admit it gets lonely. But this singlehood is not without its merits. I have learned some important things about myself during my journey. Some of these discoveries are just a few months old, actually.4
However, it feels that the internet wants to remind me of my singleness. Ads have appeared on Facebook and Instagram that seem to target a certain niche in the single market. A niche that I am a part of.
Gk2Gk (Geek2Geek) ads have filled my timeline for the last few weeks. While I’m not interested in using a dating app, my interest is piqued. I may not be alone the curiosity this dating app brings, it appears I’m also not alone in the bombardment of the ads. I have no negative feeling towards them; although, I do question why the algorithm picked me.
Where there be geeks there will ultimately be bullies, however.5 Commenters – presumably those who were also targeted for these ads – have left transphobic and gatekeeping remarks. While not surprising, it is disheartening that people would rather spread hate than just ignore something they’re not interested in.
People – men – are quick to judge on appearance. Several questioned the “true gender” of the individual in the images. Others made the same comment about how giving a girl glasses and a controller does not make her a nerd. The list goes on, but this is just a snippet of what it’s like to be a non-white-cisgender-straight-male nerd. This is something I’ll never understand – why this community belongs to just one group. That it cannot be diverse without the diversity being a by product of the SJW culture. Or pushing an agenda. Or being too political – a common complaint when it comes to Star Wars.
I don’t know where this vitriol against LGBTQ+, POC, and women nerds comes from; it’s something that I’ve wondered since the onus was first placed on women to prove they’re a “true comic book fan.” Perhaps it has always been an issue within the community (and I’m sure it has been, I’ve just been too blind to realize it).
Another problem that arose with the dating service is the heteronormative advertising. While its difficult discern that from two out of the three images I used in this post, I assure you most tend to lean toward the latter image. This further pushes the negative nerd narrative.
But all this is a conversation for a later date.
I think about it for time to time. This idea that maybe there’s someone out there for me. And I have to laugh about how naïve that sounds. It’s taken me a while to give what I feel a name. To allow myself to understand and accept it. And while I won’t talk about it now, I will in the near future.
Yes, there is someone for whom I have a strong attraction. And yes, I wish it was reciprocated in the same fashion. And maybe it is. Maybe I’ve been reading all the signs wrong.
But can you honestly tell me that this is all that there is?