A NEW thing happened to me a few weeks ago.
I was out on a date with a blonde woman and she gave me a steely gaze saying: “So, I’ve been going through your Facebook photos. Not many blonde girlfriends in your past are there?”
This momentarily flummoxed me. A lack of blonde women in my life certainly isn’t for lack of trying.
But when pressed to think about it, and (worse) to explain myself, it is true that the girlfriends of the last 20-odd years have certainly skewed to brunettes with a tendency to burst into fire-truck red without warning.
It certainly wasn’t a conscious choice on my part, and I suspect had more to do with those brunettes having a preference for my own dark, smouldering good looks.
A few days later I was, as one does, browsing through the Facebook photographs of a new female acquaintance.
Somewhat to my consternation, I kept seeing pictures of myself. Well, not exactly me, but guys who looked a lot like me; same haircut, same beard, same glasses.
Lucky for me, I seemed to fit the type!
This is nothing new. Looking at many couples, they often don’t appear to be entirely aware of their partners.
Frequently people are just there to fill a certain shaped hole in our lives and as long as they don’t stray too far from expected norms and do their share of the driving to parties we’re free to rumble along with our own obsessions.
But Facebook’s particular kink to collecting and preserving all the photographs of our lives does create a damning archive.
Then, of course, we have Tinder, the 600-pound gorilla of dating.
Slap up some photos, screen-type in some words about yourself that hardly anyone will read and get swiping. Swipe right for yes, and left for no, wait for a match.
(Some strategists swipe “yes” for everything and then triage after matching, which seems a touch callous but only the victims will ever know what sods they are.)
Five photographs to express yourself, dragged out of your Facebook archive.
Drink in hand? Raging alcoholic! Kids in picture? Always going to be busy! No body shot? Must be as big as a house! Photos all over exposed? The years have not been kind.
There’s nothing fair, or reasonable, about it. This is the internet marketplace brought to human affairs in all its efficient brutality.
No one is going to see any inner beauty that you haven’t made an effort to find a photographic expression of.
And yet looking at the long-term couples seemingly oblivious to any detail in their partner’s life one has to wonder if this is really a problem.
It’s merciless, but it is honest after a fashion.
Is it better or worse than the pretence of yesteryear? That’s hard to say, but academics wittering about it have never seemed to slow the rising influence of the internet on our lives.
Just remember not to judge your friends too harshly when you see their profile on one of these meat markets.
You can only see them because you’re there, too.