Back in the early 2000s when I was a hormone-raging, sexually curious teenager, there was simply no other way for me to meet any potential dates: I was strictly limited to the friends and schoolmates I hung out with.
At that time, I had no idea who might be gay or at least curious like me. There ain't no Grindr, Tinder or Scruff. All we had was our Nokia phones and the snake game. I did have a few crushes here and there in school, but that was it. All I could do was stare from a distance and play with the fantasies in my head. My love life was as you would imagine, frustratingly uneventful.
But everything changed when personal computers and the internet invaded our homes. Going online is like entering into a whole new world. You are no longer restricted to any particular social sphere or geographical space.
There and then, I discovered a gay online forum that allows users to create their own custom profile with photos and personal information. On top of interacting on the multitude of discussion pages, users can also communicate with each other via personal messages a.k.a pm. There are also other features like 'add friend,' 'send a heart,' 'send a kiss,' 'send a spank' and such. Whenever I'd received a 'kiss' or a pm in my inbox, I would get so excited and happy; it was the first time in my life that I was getting attention from other men. Soon enough, I was going on dates with strangers that I met online.
Fast forward to today, the 2010s, things have certainly evolved. Not only do we have more websites as well as apps providing services and opportunities for singles, straight or gay, to find one another, we have such easy access to these love/sex-finding facilitators with the quick taps of our smartphone which we bring with us everywhere we go. (Let's be honest, all of us are guilty of bringing our phone with us to the toilet for whatever reasons.)
But what exactly have all these advances in technology led us to? A quicker route to finding happiness? An easier time to finding love? Well, I'm afraid the answer isn't so straightforward.
Though, one thing we can be sure of: Online dating has provided us with an endless stream of choices. More than we can count. Some argue that it's more choices than we actually need to find a proper partner.
Well let's say on a normal day, you'd scroll pass about 20 different profiles on your dating app. In two to three months, you would have had gone through a thousand different faces. And I suppose you would have talked to at least 1 percent of them, which is about 10 people. I imagine this number of options would probably be what most people 20-30 years ago had as well -- but for their entire life! And you have gone through all of them in a mere couple of months.
With such high level of connectivity and the seemingly unlimited number of potential dates that online dating presents to you, it can feel like you have the ultimate power to pick and choose what's best for you and your life. You literally have tens of thousands of profiles at your fingertips. If things don't work out or you get rejected, you can always just move on to the next person that pops up.
Some say love is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the higher the possibility of you finding true love. But does more always mean merrier?
Those who actively use and depend on apps and websites to find love and/or sex may soon realise that they can't stop 'searching.' Because they're so used to the idea of having plenty of options and choices waiting for them, it has become habitual for them to seek and seek, and never settle. It's just like watching porn: You go through so many different clips only to decide on which favorite one that you will wank to. And then for the next session, you repeat this whole process but with different clips.
"How do I know this is it? How do I know if this person is the one I should settle down for?"
Today, many of us face the fear of missing out a.k.a FOMO. In the relationship sense, we are afraid that there may be someone better out there, just waiting for us to be single again so that they can catch us. We are afraid that our current option isn't the best one that can give us the happiest future.
With so much resources available to us, we should be easily contented. Yet the irony is that the plethora of choices is making our head spin, and giving us an even harder time making or sticking to a decision. We are in a constant state of anxiety where we never know if we are doing our best or having the best that we should and must have.
Indeed, too many choices in life can cause you and I to fall into a state of not enough. When there is so much on the table, we instinctively think that we need more in life to be deemed as successful, or to simply feel fulfilled, which isn't necessarily true.
I often joke with a friend: "How many d*cks do you have to suck before you feel that it's time to finally settle down?" And he would laugh and say, "It's never enough!" For him, a young and eloquent single gay man who lives a jet-setter life, there is no wonder he'd said that. The world is his oyster.
Personally, I feel that there is no shortcut to love or happiness. Online dating has definitely made it easier for us to connect (as well as overshare some X-rated selfies), but as our pool of choices increases, our obsession with seeking the best of the best also deepens. Soon, you may find that nothing will ever be enough for you.
Always remember: Less is more. And like they say, you can't find love, only love can find you. Indeed, some things in life are better left to fate, and not the next dating app to get.