If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you may have noticed the sudden flurry of people posting what seems to be their dating profile on university groups.
While some are purely comical, others would appear genuine. It seems the student population has exhausted the likes of Tinder and Bumble and are now turning to reliable old Facebook.
Some of these pleas are anonymous in groups like Mancfessions where students can submit their deepest darkest desires to be shared on the internet forever. This kind of anonymity makes people brave, giving them the courage to say things they never would in person.
Anyone who regularly checks Mancfessions will know the standard post is usually along lines of ‘cute blonde I saw in the library with the checked backpack, hit me up x’. To me this seems like an entirely futile effort as goodness knows who that could be referring too.
However, I’m not a total pessimist, and hopefully someone would recognise the weirdly specific details some of these posts include and can make a new connection at university. I would love to know how often these types of posts have actually connected people who have only met in passing.
UoMLove is another Manchester students group that allows people to post anonymously. Previously, posts on UoMLove tended to focus on the rivalry of subjects, humanities versus STEM, these types of arguments.
Recently though, UoMLove posts have become increasingly romance driven, with people asking for advice for pre-existing relationships battling the lockdown blues, or even tips on how to get out there online.
Some people pour their hearts out online because they feel they have nowhere else to turn, and at the moment this is mostly true. The internet gives people the courage to say what they can’t say to people’s faces, and it’s wonderful to see the sheer amount of people who come out in support of those struggling, especially at the moment. I must note the comments on these posts are not anonymous, but still Facebook gives people confidence to reach out to help others which is exactly what we all need.
There are, of course, more explicit posts and with people feeling lonely over lockdown there has been a noticeable spike in tales of what being alone has driven people to do to find some comfort.
My personal favourite post is “When I say I’m touch deprived, I mean touching elbows with my mechanic is the first bodily contact I’ve had in 6 weeks” which to me is hilarious but also painfully true.
Many just seem lonely, which is entirely understandable given we have been in some form of lockdown in Manchester for nearly a year. While the internet has shown us amazing new ways to connect with people, it doesn’t make dating any easier.
Taking that first step to ask some on a (virtual) date has been made infinitely harder. It’s just not the same as the real thing and this puts off so many people making life for those who already struggle making connections even harder.
What doesn’t help is pressure on this daunting world of dating appearing from all over our social media – on Facebook, in these groups I mentioned, and Instagram, with loads of sponsored ads for various dating sites. Now the first thing you see when opening Tik Tok is an ad for Tinder with a wonderful song by Frances Forever, but nevertheless, the pressure on online dating is constant and terrifying for some.
So what do we do? What can we do, rather, considering we have to wait till June for life to go back to normal?
Well, there is still the online world. Even though we are all sick of Zoom, we have to make the best out what we have.
Romance can blossom online. Social media is now full of fun tips and tricks on how to spice up your dating life while maintaining social distancing rules. A recent Glamour article has released 21 virtual date tips ranging from a tour of the Louvre in your pyjamas to a Buzzfeed quiz marathon. My recommendation would be a personalised TED ED talk over Zoom about which co-workers you think would survive longest in an apocalypse and why.
I understand many people don’t feel like they can do such things, or maybe they don’t have time with the university workload, but it is important to take time for yourself.
It’s not selfish to want to talk to someone every now and then. We all need a little love sometimes and with the whole world now online we have to make the most of what we’ve got left – even if that does mean turning to Facebook’s dating services.
If I’ve learnt anything from Facebook (which is never usually a good way to start a sentence), it’s that while there are problems with social media, good things can also come of it; whether that’s finding that blonde from the library with the checked backpack or just getting some much needed support from strangers online.
Either way, while we usually condemn the internet, I’d like to praise it today for helping us make new connections in a very socially restricted time.