Out of curiosity, I asked my little sister and cousin how they meet boys these days. At 23, though I’m the “cool” cousin/big sis, I’m still considered an old head. My sister, who loved following me around before, doesn’t want to go anywhere with me now for fear of people – namely, cute high school seniors – thinking she’s with her mom or something like that. Which is TOTALLY flattering, in case you were wondering. Anyway, they gave me typical answers to be expected of teens: parties, pools, summer camp. One answer surprised me, though – Instagram.
“It’s easier that way,” my 17-year-old cousin texted me with a laughing emoji. “No one goes to the mall to meet guys anymore.”
Slightly embarrassed that I had dated myself yet again, I pressed for more info. I get on Instagram to look at photos of really expensive shoes, my friends’ lunches and dinners and celebrity selfies like your typical twentysomething. The last time I followed a crush on the ‘gram…let’s just say that we ended up hating each other versus liking each others’ pictures. Of course, there’s plenty of Insta eye candy…I thought that those guys were supposed to be stalked from afar, though. But nope. According to my cousin, there’s nothing wrong with swooping in on something or someone that you like – literally.
My sister and cousins are smart girls, so I know that they wouldn’t do anything like meet up with a creepy stranger in an unsafe place (otherwise, I WILL snitch). The guys that they “like” are usually friends of friends at different schools. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit dejected. Not for me, but for them. What happened to getting dressed up with your friends in your Mudds and LEIs, slapping on your flower barrettes and flirtatiously sipping on a king-sized Slushee until a group of guys outfitted in tall tees, Girbauds and Air Force Ones approached you all? What happened to passing origami-folded notes and meeting up after class? Or falling asleep on the phone? My girls won’t ever get to experience that because they’d rather swipe and like than do the dirty work. Ugh. They sound so lazy. So unoriginal. They sound…like me.
Now of course, I’m not knocking online dating or digital communication. Many of my crushes were guys that I connected with online. But generally speaking – I feel like the digital revolution has made us lazy. We text instead of call. We’ll FaceTime within the comfy confines of our beds rather than getting up and going out. We’ll download Tinder or make an OkCupid profile in a heartbeat but shudder at the thought of building up the courage to approach a cute stranger in real life. We’re so wired that we can’t unplug and enjoy the company of someone in a classic way or appreciate the effort of doing it organically.
As a kid, I’d always beg my grandpa to tell me the story about how he met my grandma.
“I’ve told you a hundred times!” my grandfather would sigh.
“Let’s make it 101,” I’d plead, turning up the charm.
My grandparents were from the South and came to the city during the Great Migration. My grandma was a quiet beauty who prioritized work, church and nothing more. My grandfather was slightly different, to say the least. But when he saw her at a Brooklyn Laundromat one afternoon, he knew he had to change in order to get her and keep her.
She refused to give him a shot until he turned his life around. So he strategically made the best spiritual choice in his life (according to what he told me), joined the church and eventually secured a wife.
My grandparents enjoyed a happy life together until death did them part. I still think that their love story is greater than any book that I’ve read. Since then, I’d always hoped to meet my future husband the “real” way. And I still do. I want my girls to see that Instagram and the Internet isn’t the only way. Who wants to tell their kid that mommy and daddy both swiped right, iMessaged for a while, graduated to FaceTime and lived happily ever after? Not me.
When she’s not watching for Blue Ivy sightings or doing some serious Facebook creeping, Khalea, a recent Howard University graduate, moonlights as a magazine intern and a freelancer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @letsbeKHAlear, or feel free to Twatch. Whatever works for you.