No one would say that dating is easy. Particularly for my generation. There’s as many reasons for this as there are stars in the sky. We tend to wait to settle down and our lives are far more fluid. We navigate careers that can take us from one industry to the next, from one coast to the other. This is a far more nomadic lifestyle compared to our parents and grandparents. But wait, just add in the effects of dating in the digital age. Eight months ago, I wrote about tinder, ghosting and the whole shebang and for better or worse things haven’t changed too much. Don’t worry, I’m not about to shake my fist and say it’s all the internet’s fault and propose we all go off the grid and spend our days making kombucha. That being said, the internet is irrevocably woven into our everyday lives and dating is no exception. Case in point: the latest phenomenon in modern love stories. Or should I say lust stories? I’m talking about the twenty first century pin-up. Hot People on Instagram.
Aha! I hear you think. You’re a blogger, whose hobby and side hustle relies on posting photos on Instagram and the internet. Yes, that is true, and not to sound like a narcissist, but I think of myself as an attractive human being. I have the requisite number of eyes and ears for one. Actually, as a slim, white, young woman I fall very easily into society’s definition of beauty and I recognize that in and of itself is a privilege. So, I’m the last person to complain about people making a name for themselves as a model, influencer or performer on social media. I follow several male models and influencers for little other reason than I think they are attractive. That’s not what fascinates me about this particular phenomenon. Our parents had posters of Duran Duran or Farah Fawcett on their walls, our grandparents favored Marilyn Monroe or The Beatles. Today there’s still the traditional celebrity obsession; to my left you can see Twitter’s meltdown over Shawn Mendes’s Calvin Klein underwear campaign.
I once called dating on Tinder a high stakes poker game where hardly anyone is serious enough to sit down at the table let alone show their hand. In that analogy, Instagram Eye Candy is like playing online solitaire against a supercomputer. It’s not impossible that you could find the love of your life (or the best shag of your twenties) on Instagram…but it’s pretty improbable. At least for anyone who isn’t also a model, influencer, creative or entertainer and has a reasonable likelihood of crossing paths professionally or socially with this person. So initially it seems that Hot People on Instagram aren’t that different than posters of celebrities or even the shirtless hunks on Abercrombie bags. (I don’t know if this was unique to my middle and high school, but we used to save those bags to pin onto their wall). The key difference is there is some degree of interaction with Instagram hotties. You like their photos, follow them, watch their stories and can usually react, comment, answer polls, ask questions. In short, though they may have hundreds of thousands of followers and realistically little personal connection to you as an individual, there are less degrees of separation to this Eye Candy than to a celebrity heartthrob like Liam Hemsworth.
Hot People On Instagram has even evolved to aspirational relationships. If you scroll through #couplegoals you will see duos with cheekbones that could cut glass, frolicking around the globe. I say this with all due admiration, working with your significant other and portraying your relationship on social media is a pressure that I cannot imagine. I’m happily single myself and it’s not exaggeration to say that in the past four months I’ve had more interactions with men on Instagram than with men in real life. This isn’t a moral or social issue; I’m not looking to date anyone right now. In the words of Samantha Jones, I have eyes and twenty/twenty vision. I just think it’s an interesting dynamic added to our already tempestuous love lives in the digital age.
Now please go forth and fill my inbox with your Instagram crushes.