My mother would frown down about dating apps. Not that I care (I do), or that she even knows what an app is (she does). Sometimes, it’s best to live in ignorance. My mother would frown upon them, because for her the concept of getting together with someone based on their photograph is difficult to digest. Superficial, she’ll say.
So, Let’s back this tape up a bit. And try and remember how parents got hitched. How was it again? Yes. In the good old days, they got pictures of their prospective partners through post. Pictures. Not an extensive curriculum vitae.
For those who find online dating and its superficiality obnoxious, consider this. In matrimonial sections of newspapers even today, mandatory requirements are, caste, skin colour, education and salary. Personally, if a girl knew her Beatles and her Stones, I’d marry her then and there. It’s much too important, way more than skin colour. Sundays cannot be spent in a household where Keith’s slide guitar is not tolerated. Oh and Pacific Rim. Must love Pacific Rim.
But the resistance still exists. The jibes are incessant. Yes, often a picture isn’t enough. I mean, God knows the number of smart, sensible, well dressed men and women my parents ditched before stumbling on to each other. Pictures often lie. Decent lighting, and a good angle can make serial killers look like hipsters (personally, can’t tell the difference. Put them all in the chair). But then, I’ve seen ‘proposal’ pictures of people in the olden days lying too. My mother has a picture of her daintily playing badminton. I have never seen her play badminton. 27 years of my life, not once.
Which is why human beings, despite the extensive reach of technology, physically interact with each other. You may not need to go the bank to transfer money, or a market to order vegetables, or fix your TV, but you need to go to the watering hole to meet your mate.
But, for sake of not deviating from the point of this piece, let us concentrate on the idea of picking someone out from a photograph. It isn’t as unique or modern a concept as you may have been led to believe, let me assure you. A peacock’s tail is worthless, except to find a mate. Visual interest will line up your date.
Let’s admit it, we live in an extremely visual time. We buy clothes that LOOK good, we watch shows that LOOK nice (No. True detective isn’t that great a narrative), we even get phone covers to cover up the drab blacks and the whites, and buy vegetables that LOOK greener. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t go and get a 500 buck haircut because I like the hairdresser’s chairs (They are awesome though). I don’t go around shopping for well-cut shirts because they make me ‘feel good about myself’. I do it so that I look good. Sorry if it sounds superficial. Sometimes the truth is simpler than fiction.
Sure, pictures don’t tell the whole truth, but they get you interested. I’m sure that badminton image had a point. It probably got my father (an avid racquet sports freak) interested in getting to know the girl.
With an increase in short term memory programming (this piece isn’t much longer, I promise), and a world with little recall value, a picture is mightier than the sword. There isn’t enough time for swayamvars anymore (Plus it’s easier to deal with rejection via technology). A good picture can be the starting point of a lovely conversation. And maybe even a healthy relationship. Which is why my display picture across social media is of my dog, wrapped in a blanket, looking like Yoda (I think it says I’m sensitive, love animals and Star Wars. I may be mistaken).
So, yes, finding someone through an app based on a picture, isn’t all that novel an idea. Or strange even. It is, literally, an evolution of an age old tradition of ‘natural selection of life partner through the visual medium’. Once the pictures are approved, let the samosas and the tea rain in. Ladka and ladki can meet in the guest room.
Go ahead, don’t feel superficial and cheap about finding love through a picture. But then, I do put up a picture of my dog as me. Don’t be me.
Swipe it away, when you don’t like the beard. And do not be ashamed that you did so.
About Guest Author
Vaibhav Raghunandan is a writer, traveller and photographer who works on sports and social issues. He is bearded.