Swipe Left, Swipe Right

Stark naked with a reeling brain, I aimlessly peered into a glowing square in my hand. Two pictures of people lined up side-by-side. My heart was hurting, and I hated myself. I stared into a face, and looked at the sum of her parts. It’s easily the most popular game on any mobile device.

I swiped left, and a person tumbled away to die both in my hard drive and in my heart. Her nose was too small. Her eyes were too wide apart. I couldn’t commit.

Two new pieces of meat showed up for me to inspect. One was an effeminate man who I think might look good in drag, the other a lady with green hair and tattoos.

Deep down, I hoped with every fiber of my being that the rocker girl would swipe me the same way I swiped her. Maybe a deep romance would take hold and give my empty existence meaning. Or maybe we’d meet once to fulfill physical urges. It’s difficult to assume too much so early on.

Maybe she would never talk to me at all. I think so much about sex sometimes that it has somehow served as a crude replacement for actually having it. How are you supposed to be yourself around someone when being around them arouses you and brings out emotional thoughts and feelings?

I swiped right again. The ability to be yourself can become impaired. To succeed at this stage would only mean that I give myself freely to a series of awkward rituals where I’m not sure that I like a person, and I’m not so sure that they like me, either.

I’ve long considered myself to be bad at talking to people I’m attracted to. The idea of something bad happening feels worse than the actual event itself. Panic throws a wrench into everything, and renders a person incapable of doing anything, at least for a while.

This one has kids. Four of them. Swipe left. It’s as if the act of going through this cycle is sparking a small outlet in my pleasure center; the what-ifs tingle across my nervous system in anticipation.

I cry, and bury my head in my hands. It is likely that I will never have sex again. More importantly, it feels like I don’t deserve to be close to anyone at all. In my own mind, I’m the lowest form of trash and everything is charity born out of pity. I am the fattest, stupidest, poorest, most ugly version of myself in all possible worlds. But not really.

I check Tinder. No matches. I check OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, and MeetMe. No messages to speak of. I might get some replies if I sent any, but how do you introduce yourself to a complete stranger based on a few pictures and a tiny blurb? Hi, you’re cute? Anything in the wrong tone sounds creepy or overly generic, and I don’t have the patience to craft paragraphs for rejection slips unless they’re from publishing houses.

But the pond of the area around me has dried up for now. I turn off my phone, and go to bed in frustration. Tomorrow, another day will show itself, and the lure of opportunity will pull me back to the screen once more.

Sean is a guy from the middle of nowhere in Illinois who passionately supports Free Software, Free Culture, and decentralized communication systems. He serves as the editor of We Distribute, a publication dedicated to the development of the fediverse. In his spare time, Sean is a budding indie game dev, writer, web developer, and a musician.