Bumble. Our third favourite yellow-coated brand behind Maccies and Ikea and fourth favourite inanimate yellow thing to touch behind Maccies chips, Sensations crisps and lemon Fanta. Just me? An app that promised reams of attractive prospectives while championing feminism all in a hive-shaped bundle. It shook us with the whole co-founder of Tinder story (scandalous) and shocked the online dating world with its forward-thinking approach to the swipies (NEW BUZZ WORD, PEOPLE, I’M COINING IT).
We got on board, but didn’t really get many dates from it because years of ‘the woman mustn’t speak first’ backwards dating rule made our opening line game weaker than a virgin Mojito. But it was fun, it was making our skins thicker, creating us as equals and eventually we all came round to the idea that the woman could have the first say in this messed-up, soul-mate finding, digital shit storm we now can’t get out of. Where’s Helen Hunt when you need her, ay? Twister is a gust compared to this.
Then, Bumble BFF came along, and where meeting complete strangers off an app in the hope of a boozy smooch and maybe love was completely fine, we flung our exfoliated noses up at the prospect of meeting strangers from an app to potentially become friends with them and instead stewed in our friendlessness, settling for nightly catch-ups with succulents, knowing this was the normal and right thing to do. Because being friends is different. You’re just supposed to have friends, aren’t you? They’re just there. But being at the prime age of when your friendships start to dwindle (25, guys. Wrinkles and loss of friends, WHAT. A. TREAT) for a lot of us, they’re not. Some of us haven’t been surrounded by the sort of people we want to befriend for a very long time. And some of us don’t have the energy or the confidence to pursue new friendships very easily.
And so Bumble BFF went on, unused in our app roster. But just like the dating apps that trickled into our curiosity, got the better of us and now have us hooked (define, hooked? Read: loathe everyone we see as soon as we go on them, scream “WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER” and turn it off again) the chance to make new friends in an easy, non-committal, ‘I don’t have to touch that person’s arm in Sainsbury’s and compliment them on their choice of mozzarella’ to make buddies got the better of us too (OKAY, by us I mean me, put the probe light down, bad cop).
One profile complete with “fun” photos (festival, check. Drinks, check. Doing something cultured, check) and a Mean Girls quoted bio later and after one little swipe I screamed ‘THIS ISN’T OK’ and threw my phone across the bed.
It felt wrong. I was picking friends based on their looks over whether they said something my kinda funny or if they liked books and theatre, art and sarcasm.
Doing that for dating is fine. An initial attraction is always a bonus, but choosing friends based on this algorithm? Nu-uh, not cool. What was stopping me from not swiping everyone? Absolutely bugger all. But then, how do you choose friends IRL these days? You’re asking the wrong socially awkward chick.
So, I swiped right on another girl. Side note: Why does this app assume that all girls want to be friends with girls and vice versa? IT’S 2018, LET’S NOT BE SO BINARY, BUMBLE. Anyway, we spoke for a bit. She was funny and she was doing a reading challenge, so we chatted about books and how she was going to Prague soon and life drawing and embroidery and she was basically the Canadian version of me. Then, just like so many flitting internet relationships, it fizzled.
I kept swiping, but there’s only so much ‘I like brunch, prosecco, fitness and exploring’ you can take before they all mesh into one big, ambiguous lump of Basic that you don’t know who to swipe to anymore.
So I stopped, again. And it’s gone relatively untouched since.
I may not have made any life-long pals, but the girls I had spoken to seemed lovely, so that wasn’t the reason I stopped. I shut it down because the act of swiping through people who were in the same position of just wanting a few more friendly faces in the big city was weirdly comforting. So comforting that it quelled whatever anxiety-ridden friendless spiral I had found myself in. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone, that other people felt lonely too, found making friends hard and just wanted someone to talk to as well. It was the app version of playing MJ’s ‘You are not alone’ to each other and swaying in solace knowing that yes, I am here with you, but maybe stopping before the THOUGH YOU’RE FAR AWAY, I AM HERE TO STAYYY, because damn, that choir gets me carried away. I didn’t need to make any friends from it just yet, because knowing they were there was enough. Because we all might be a bit lonely, but at least we were being lonely together.
Maybe I will buck up and make a go of being buds with someone from Bumble BFF (although I’ve heard your first meet-up is even more nerve-wracking than a date, yikes), but for now I have sought contentment in my less-than-average friend count knowing there’s people out there, seeking some companionship as well, because finding new friends is tough as a ‘trying to be grown-up’ adult, but knowing other people are also struggling not only lets you feel like less of an odd ball, but makes it all a smidgen easier too.