Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Speed Dating: The way of the future?

For Valentines day, 5FM did another LOVE SUCKS party. This year we went luuurge. Our first Love Sucks party with Vuzu was in 2010, and we had about 50 people speed dating. It was relatively quick, and relatively painless. Plus the night was mostly about the awesome party on some rooftop astroturf. And at that point Speed Dating was a total novelty to me.

This year, however, we aimed somewhat, er, higher. The height of breaking the Guinness World Record for Speed Dating, to be exact. And I need to cover some bases before we discuss the exact topic at hand:

There are some important factors to take into consideration when you’re dealing with Guinness records. Anyone can set up a bunch of tables and count heads and say they’ve broken a record. But to ACTUALLY do it is a lot more complicated.

Firstly, you pay to break a record. Not the other way around. I learnt this when playing cheerleader for Jan Braai in his braai record attempt (and success) last year. The details are also VERY specific. In Jan’s case, he had to have six different pieces of meat on the braai at a time, and couldn’t take the cooked ones off ‘til he’d replaced them. Tired eyes could easily cock that up. We also weren’t allowed to get in the way of specific cameras recording his progress. And NO ONE else was allowed to touch ANYTHING. He had a sidekick who could stoke the fire to keep the wood at the right temperature.

For our Speed Dating attempt, every date had to be meticulously recorded. Every dater had to sign a form at each date, and move on. It’s one thing breaking a world record on your own for your own cause: it’s all your responsibility - you’re relying on you to make it happen. When you’re counting on 400 people in two different cities, who mostly just want to meet a few hot people and get trashed, you’re putting faith in a very fickle rowboat.

Needless to say, the process was a bit harrowing. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to stand ‘round a table and date (thank gaad - ‘cause I was in some monster shoes), but got to sit comfortably in one of the Chevy Sparks. That should’ve made me a slightly less irritable candidate, right? Monday night, as it turns out, is also not the best party night for my tired, granny ass.

Granny livers and tedious pre-dating processes aside, the actual dating is what fascinated me. Is speed dating a good alternative to the good old kiss-someone’s-face-off-in-a-club-and-hope-they-call-tomorrow routine? On the surface, you’d think “yes”. Firstly, it’s safe to assume you’d be a lot soberer. Secondly, you can actually have a conversation. And three minutes is a very good time limit. It’s a perfect little gap to see if there’s chemistry - ‘cause let’s face it, it’s there or it’s not. And it’s short enough for you to count on when you’re sitting next to a freak. Or a total prick. The formula itself is fairly faultless. It’s the aftermath that’s complicated. Because after dating roughly twenty people, it’s still up to YOU to contact whoever you may be interested in. So you’re back to square one when it comes to putting yourself on the line, which is sort of what you were trying to avoid in the first place.

I’ll take you through the experience. It’s usually the guys who are asked to move around, so I sat still for an hour and a half. Would rather have been moving tbh. You also know pretty quickly how the date’s going to go. If he’s a confident guy with a nice smile who looks into your eyes as he sidles up to your table (or car), you know, at the very least, it wont be awkward. If his eyes are darting about nervously, you know you have a challenge ahead of you. If he sits down and immediately starts multiple-choice questioning you on holiday locations and loft living... Say no more, right?

Honestly, most of the chaps I dated were very sweet, friendly and chatty. Only two of them had bad BO, and one had too much “cologne” on. And one had horrific breath. And in those awkward sitchunarios, your saving grace is once again that time limit. You don’t GET a time limit on a normal first date. Just ask @allhail. (Here’s her blogpost about the worst first date ever: So that’s one point for speed dating, for sure. One dude was particularly strange and HATED the idea of chatting about “boring shit” like his vocation and interests. Hence the multiple choice quiz I was given. Which was admittedly refreshing, considering the rhetoric that was going down. (Another downside, you seem to say the same thing many, many times... Many times.)

You may have seen my tweet about the dickiest dick to ever dick into society? Ya. I actually bordered on telling him he was welcome to step off and just sign the paper to say we’d dated. What. A. Fucking. Dickknobdickfaceloser. He got into the Spark so nonchalantly, like there were so many places he’d rather be. And it’s this encounter that taught me that you indeed CAN tell a lot about a person in three minutes. He sat in there and didn’t even say hello. Think he might have dropped in something about not liking me (me on radio or my face, I’m not sure which.) I then asked him about what he did. I don’t think that’s ever an offensive question. (It can tell you a lot about someone if it is a particularly rare or specialised field, otherwise it’s just something to skim over.) Shit, I can’t even remember what his answer was... Basic, normal jobbie really. After realising he was being a bit too fucking cool for school, he proceeded to tell me how he’d left school in std 7 and had started working etc etc something about ‘been working forever’ - see, he was such a tool I was disinterested to the point of memory-lapsing. But I’d established from his general demeanour and kak attitude - and not from ANY of the information I’d got out of him - what kind of dude he was. He evidently had a complex about his job and/or his short-lived education, and instead of being proud of what he’d achieved despite those, he was defensive. Nutshell: some MAYJAH small-man syndrome.

So from that, more of a solution to the worst case scenario. And easier to tell what you don’t want. What about the GOOD? Does anyone really know after three minutes if they want to date someone? Then, do they have the balls to say “I thought we clicked, want to go on a proper date”? ‘Cause like I said, that sense of organisation and distance falls away the minute that last bell goes.

The question then, is is Speed Dating a solution to the ‘conventional’ methods of waiting around for someone? Despite how much it exhausted me, and my reluctance to ever do it again ever ever in a million years ever, I see an upside: it forces you into that environment. It puts you right out there. You, along with the tens you’ll be dating, all know that you’re there to meet ‘someone’. So there should technically be no uncomfortable flirting. Technically... Compared to, lets say a club scene, where the group of girls might just be out for ladies’ night and not want any cock involved, and the group of guys might be on a stag night, and are all married or on their way there. People in their natural habitats are unpredictable and intimidating. Putting them in organised format with a strict code of behaviour, however, means they’ll all be actively interested in the same thing. So you’re already off to a good start. Having the fact that you’re all there in common is a great kick-start.

I’d say try it at least once, and decide if it’s for you. No harm in trying. I can vouch for that. ;)

Monday, February 21, 2011

When Networking gets ASSy

It says a lot that people assume you're single if you don't have a FB relationship status up.

It’s firstly interesting that people will assume you’re embarrassed to be single. Because obviously, your only motivation to remove a relationship status altogether would be your utter mortification at being alone. And therefore undesired, unwanted, unsexy...

Social Networking has brought with it a plethora of issues. Privacy, access to information, connectivity - all in good and bad ways. But it’s also brought a big, fat wave of assumption. Facebook’s a good example because it’s designed around you as a person, unlike Twitter which is more about your ramblings. Facebook has all that inside info, should you choose to give it, of course. You look good in your profile pic: people will assume you always look good. They might then peruse through all your photos and discover you’re actually a sasquatch with a small head, but the initial assumption is there. Your education might be a University - people will assume you’re somewhat clever. Whether or not you finished your degree. They might also assume you’re ‘less’ intelligent if you’ve got one or other college there, or a technikon. But people make these assumptions mostly subconsciously.

The one assumption they will overtly be aware of - and may even have a discussion about - is that good ol’ relationship status.
Wilma: “Hey Petrus, it can laak to say year (here) vat Carol are single.”
Petrus: “Vat are strange hey, Wilma, coss she can laak to be pretty.”
Wilma: “I fink it are becoss she are a lekker slet.”
Petrus: “Ya. Moerse hoer.”

And so it goes. Similarly, if you ARE in a relationship all official-like on FB, and you include your other half in that whole “Kelly is IN A RELATIONSHIP with JACOBUS KOMSKIETTER”, people will click on Jacobus’ profile to garner as much information as they can without having to be friends with him. People are nosy little fuckers, and it’s the sole reason any of us bloody HAVE Facebook anymore: the voyeurism. So don’t be surprised at how much people know when you see them at your high school reunion.

Psychologically, it does indeed say a lot about us as human beings. And it’s more than just about being inquisitive, or competitive even. As much as we fight it, to a degree we will always value ourselves according to our desirability. We will always need some kind of confirmation from another person, that not only tells us that we’re worth our occupied space, but tells all 500 of our Facebook friends that we are too. That’s why a lot of people DO hide their relationship statuses, and then suddenly one day it pops up! *POOF!* “Gloria Harmse is IN A RELATIONSHIP with Koos vd Doos”. And for those of us who do look at relationship statuses as a gratifying “proof of quality” stamp, it’s a cock contest. “That bitch from high school doesn’t have one up, that means she must be single ‘cause she is such a total bitch whore bitch ha! I’m better than her.” Or, “oh GOOOD that stupid ho is married now? I knew she could never cope on her own, she’s so co-dependant.” And “Baby number THREE on the way? What a barefoot in the kitchen cop-out! I’m so glad I’m an independent woman who wanted more from life than a man and a family.” - You KNOW you’ve done it. So shurrup. We use this voyeuristic outlet as a gauge of our own success. Because for a lot of people, they need to feel better than someone else to feel like they’ve achieved.

There’s also another side: the angry relationshippers who use the Facebook officiality as punishment for their straying lovers. I’ve seen people go from “in a relationship” to “single” three times in a week. Oh ya, you showed him, honey. You TELL the world you’re single! Oi.

And for some, it is just that point where it’s simply none of anybody’s fucking business. I don’t have a relationship status up on Facebook. And ya, to a point it’s to avoid that nosiness and invasiveness that comes with being Facebook friends with a lot of people you don’t know. But for me, mostly, it’s that horrifying point that you might get to when/if that relationship you’ve so openly declared ends. Because Facebook doesn’t let you just remove your status, oh no no. In all the timelines, this is what pops up: “Yvette is no longer in a relationship.” Or if you’re brave enough, you just change it back to that “single” status. And the crassness of people never fails to amaze me in those comment boxes:

“Ooooh my gaaad Yvette, what happened? are you okaaaay?”
“Aaah fuck him doll! Let’s get drunk”

Erm, kids, if you were important enough to know what happened, she’ll have told you. That, or you’ll find out in time. What part of lazily commenting on an FB update conveys true sympathy?

I remember when I removed my FB relationship status. I’d only been on FB for about six months when I realised that at some point, that little tab was going to be a problem. So I removed it, and up it popped in my friends’ timelines: “Kim is no longer listed as single”. Not, “Kim removed her relationship status”. No, no, Zuckerberg, that would be far too honest. I was also very casually making out with some dude at the time, and when I went out that night I had about seven people who could bearly hold back their sprint to ask me if he and I were dating “officially”. Fuck, I mean firstly he was the world’s most giant douche. Not the dickhead, jackass kind. The passionless, wet, boring as a plastic bottle kind. And secondly, some of those people rushing to inquire were good friends. Wouldn’t I have told them already? Or beforehand? It’s a crazy little abyss we’ve opened.

Back to it then: doesn’t it say a lot about us? Yes it does. In my case, it says I don’t need to add to the heartbreak of a finished relationship with flippant and plainly stupid questions about it. Or, for that matter, the dumb comments if I was to put it up. Such as, “Ohmaagaaad, WHO?!” In others, it says we want to validate our need to be needed and wanted. Or that we simply love that person and want to share that with everyone. Our intentions are pretty subconscious and innocent when putting information up on Facebook. But never underestimate the conclusions that will be jumped to, and the assumptions made. That was the deal, folks. And while I’m on a soap box I shall graciously request that you avoid those in-your-face lovey-dovey statii. Followed by the ever-vaguer hate comments when shit goes awry. You look like a tit.