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Finding Folks: A Firsthand Account of Meeting People at Notre Dame

| Thursday, February 13, 2014

finding folks WEBKeri O'Mara | The Observer

Look, it’s not that I’m desperate to meet someone. I know people. I’d say everything is going fine for me right now. But Valentine’s Day was coming up and asked myself, “What if I did want to meet someone? How would I even do that?”

It isn’t that easy for me to meet people here. I don’t know, maybe it is for some of you. Good for you. I don’t know what a conventional way to meet a new person is. So I thought it would be interesting to try some ways of meeting people that I’m pretty sure are not conventional. You know, just to see how it went.

There is an app called Tinder that shows you pictures of nearby people, perhaps a tagline and any mutual Facebook friends or interests that you have. You choose whether or not you like this person and if you like each other, you can chat. It sounds interesting, doesn’t it? But it is kind of awful. It is the height of superficiality. I don’t know how much information about a person you need to make a reasonable estimation of whether you’d get along, but I think it is more than Tinder gives you.

I started using the app and restricted the search to other users within one mile. Not to brag, but I matched with a couple of people. The conversations were not great, and I take full responsibility for that. Maybe I should have just suggested a lunch date or something? That is the traditional way to get know someone and I do have confidence in it. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it, to suggest meeting up with anyone from Tinder. I’ve never met in person anyone that I first encountered on the Internet. I know that’s what online dating is, I just haven’t gotten out of the mindset of my youth that it is dangerous, or whatever.

Tinder shows the number of interests you have in common, based on what you have indicated on your Facebook page. Since the things I’ve liked on Facebook are a snapshot of what I was interested in during my junior year of high school, it was interesting to see what overlap I had with people. The movie “Where the Wild Things Are” is way more popular among girls than I would have guessed. And when did I ever go hiking? Why would I like that?

On Feb. 7, I attended Speed Dating at Legends. For two-and-a-half minutes, guys and girls got to know each other. We then marked ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a sheet, handed the sheet in at the end of the event, and if both parties marked yes, we got each other’s email addresses. Though speed dating is the older art form, I conceived of it initially only as an in-person Tinder. But that in-person factor makes all the difference.

On the one hand, there is almost a desperation in going to such an event, where the process of meeting each other reduces people to almost cattle, but on the other hand, it is a fun, light-hearted event at which to expand one’s social horizons, all the while winking at the process because we are all cool and ironic. It was nice to talk to people, to be able to get a sense of them. Of course, something feels wrong, crass almost, about reducing that sense to either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ What does that mean? How much should I have to like a person to merit getting to know them more? Is it one of those things where you “just know?” While it was pleasant to speak to new people, one dilemma that arose was what exactly to say. Would you learn more about a person from their major or what they would bring to a deserted island?

The third and final thing I tried to meet people was sitting in LaFortune with a sign that read “Interested in meeting new people.” Immediately after I set the sign up, a beautiful girl came over and we really hit it off. Haha, no, that didn’t happen. It was weird and did not work at all, but also kind of fun. A few strangers did briefly introduce themselves, but for every one of them, two people I already knew came over to demonstrate concern about my welfare. I think the majority of people walking by didn’t notice or care.

While it can be hard to meet people by more conventional methods, I don’t think any of these get-rich-quick schemes are the solution. I’m inclined to let organic interaction and happenchance dictate the formation of my future relationships. Well, for now, at least — there is no telling how long my patience will last).

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