“What is being built is architecture of oppression” [regarding tracking phones]. A global sabbatical – a stressed system, where the leadership is clearly out of its league. – Edward Snowden
How incredible is this feeling, of waking up every morning, at first with the feeling of slight panic and anxiety, to then experience the realisation of synchronized mass consciousness.
I am in Berlin, respecting mild social distancing, walking through Tempelhof feld under the immaculate spring time blue sky, on the phone talking to my friend Gaelle taking a walk on her end by the Canal St Martin in Locked down Paris. She tells me cops are checking a couple’s paper work on the corner of the street. I feel lucky that Germany hasn’t required us to carry any sort of paper certifying the time and purpose for our outing. How insane is this method of precaution? Are we back in WWII?
I truly value this moment of almost forced self-reflection, reconvening with oneself to rethink our incredibly fast paced lifestyle of partaking in the capitalist race.
As our values and mindsets are put to the test by this momentary social pause, I observe with fascination the people around me trying to make sense of how to navigate this crisis. All of a sudden, our rat race stops, leaving us in a space of lingering time.
We as human beings are social animals, constantly searching for connections, bonds and association. The concept and practice of solitary confinement is a harsh punishment used in max security prisons as a form of torture.
As this pandemic explores our governing through bio politics, confining our bodies to strict restrictions of social distancing and self-quarantine, the question of human relationships arises. We have already noticed that the rise of the digital area we are living in has previously cut our physical human ties to give way to the cyber connections which sometimes stay virtual forever. This concept of having an excessive number of online “friends” and contacts has led our society into increasing feelings of loneliness. Our social abilities on many levels have decreased, anxiety, depression and mental health are now such common traits in today’s world that we no longer notice their abnormality.
As I ventured into the world of online dating, exploring the various apps and platforms, I found it fascinating and took this experience as a social experiment. The variety of individuals I was meeting was fueling my sociological research, allowing me to enter into diverse universes and a multitude of minds. It seems that our attention span has unfortunately decreased dramatically since social media took over our lives, getting us hooked on the hits of dopamine released by the validation of external approval. Never in history had it been easier to find a temporary soul to share intimacy with, while maintaining our independence. It wasn’t true love I was searching for, but the feeling of ecstasy rush through my body and mind as I engaged physically and mentally with these men. The thrill of the unknown, the feeling of being discovered and touched for the first time again and again with adoration, the experience of stepping out of my comfort zone on a regular basis was my drive to continue these encounters.
As the rules surrounding the advent of Covid-19 became more serious, restricting us from engaging in human contact, inflicting fear on the population, targeting the ego as a way of controlling our bodies within spaces, I took the time to rethink my approach regarding the people around me, my close friends, but also the way I had normalized my sexual life in a very liberal way. I had worked on developing a deep sense of self confidence over the years, embracing my independence as a woman, letting go of social pressure which I had now to reevaluate.
All of a sudden my ego kicked in as authorities spread fear into the population, installing the concept of social distancing. My dating life which had previously been fed by incredible conscious minds and bodies was now threatened.
As I scrolled through the infinity of profiles, I noticed that people from all over the globe were popping up in my feed. This Tinder Passport feature was their way of responding to the crisis. What had previously been a paid perk on the app, for curious individuals, was now open and free for all users to benefit from. There I was conversing with guys from Jerusalem, Brazil and Ukraine. How fascinating was this idea of texting with these people I had never met, and would probably never ever meet. Complete strangers from diverse cultures, experiencing this pandemic simultaneously and for the first time able to communicate with one another across the globe. As I chatted away with numerous people, both local and internationally based, it became apparent that the taboo and self-consciousness, as well as shame associated with dating apps was fading away, as it provided a gateway to an alternative way of connecting with other human beings.
Although it was advised to stay indoors in Berlin, I managed to find some people happy to meet up for a date and conversation. It was odd not to hug to say hello. On multiple occasions we attempted to follow the social distancing guidelines of staying one meter fifty apart. This obviously didn’t pan out. Furthermore, if individuals were willing to meet during the tight grip of human lockdown, shielded from the mass fear spread by the media to keep everyone contained at home, they were certainly free thinking and were just pretending to play the game from the start. They shared with me that the only way to meet people was now through the apps, as social spaces such as bars, clubs and events were now off limits. Taking to the multitude of virtual human bank platforms, sourcing individuals to converse and connect with to potentially vanquish the fear of getting contaminated by this world-wide virus and perhaps build a human relation.
Are online platforms the new/safe way of meeting potential partners? Are they replacing social spaces where one could freely roam and make new friends? How is this pandemic affecting our social abilities, which are already quite fragile due to the rise of technology and social media taking a toll on our mental health…? How are we going to evolve, as human beings, on a social level? Will this coronavirus affect our future meet ups and hookups? Is this once again a barrier to marginalized individuals who do not conform to the norm, specifically people who do not follow the idea of monogamy?
This is a beautiful time for each and every one of us to take a step back from our practices of all kinds which became a part of our routine, and reevaluate our personal values.
‘Dating during corona’ is an article by Claire Mcintyre as part of our 2020 non-profit Corona-virus magazine project. You can read the whole magazine here: