If you just want your party invitation, skip down to the bottom. If you want to take a journey, take my hand and let’s walk in slowly together, our fingers intertwined. 

1.
One of the great pleasures of this blog is that everywhere I go (work, coffeeshop, dates, my sister’s house), people (friends and friends of friends) come up and talk to me about online dating.

“Oh my god,” they say, “I got the worst message the other night.”

“I’m so sorry,” I say. “What was it? Tell me right now and I will write about it on the Internet. Or not, if you prefer. But definitely tell me.” Then I try to play it cool by blinking a normal amount. How much is a normal amount to blink? Five times a minute? More? I have no idea. I do not succeed.

I have always been interested in the details of other people’s love lives. This is called being a gossip if you repeat those details, or an advice columnist if someone will give you a paycheck, or a voyeur if you’re fond of dark nights and lighted windows, or a human being if we’re all being honest with each other. And now I have found a way to get those details.

It’s called “I’ll show mine, if you show yours.” I should have known. This is always how people have operated. You sit down for coffee with a new friend, and they tell you about a problem they’re having in their life and then they stare at you expectantly and pretty soon you’re telling them about that time you pooped your pants in Mexico and then you’re friends forever. It’s sorcery and it’s also used in international negotiations about trade treaties. What do you think Hillary’s emails are really about?

2.
My friend keeps saying we should have a party and invite all “our” new friends from Tinder. She mostly means mine. She knows so many details about my dates—she lives next door and I knock on the wall when I’m home from a date—that she feels she knows them all and wants to meet them in person. Plus, of course, there is the fact that I really do think Dates #3 and #4 would be best friends if they were ever to meet. They have so much in common!

“No,” I say. “It would all be dudes.”

“You have single girl friends!” she says. “They could all meet.”

“All my single girl friends met guys off Tinder and are dating them,” I say, only somewhat resentfully. I am not upset that I haven’t “met someone” on Tinder. I am resentful that the one glorious moment when all my friends were on Tinder was so brief.

3.
People tell me that “everyone” is on Tinder.

“Are you on Tinder?” I ask.

“Well, no,” they say. “But everyone else is.”

I go on Tinder and start writing about it on the Internet. I post the links to my Facebook and through seeing people I know on Tinder itself, and Facebook comments, likes, and shares, I pretty quickly figure out who of my friends is on Tinder—all of them.

4.
The feature I want the most on Tinder is “refer a friend.”

5.
Artists make art. They frequently make art out of lived experiences or shared social environments. I am a writer who is taking my online dating experiences and making them into something else—the essays I post on my blog and articles I write about online dating are truthful, but they are not the thing itself—they are something else. The experience is not obscured or altered, but it is transformed in the telling.

Other artists must be making art about online dating, I think. What are they making?

6.
On the Bachelor, there is one happy couple at the end. Everyone else goes home disappointed. It is interesting and weird and very strange that it has been on television since 2002—that’s 13 years, and a total of 30 seasons.

In “IRL” dating—when you meet a friend of a friend, say, or your mom fixes you up with the IT guy at her work—most of us meet one person at a time, sort of see how it plays out, move on. Unless, of course, you’re unlike me and leave your apartment more than twice a week. (Who are you and why are you?)

This isn’t true in online dating. In online dating there are lots of options in a short span of time, if you want. This makes online dating more like the Bachelor than some other things (hiking, yoga, gardening, talking to your grandma, vacuuming, getting your fake tooth replaced).

Bachelor in Paradise, it turns out, is just as fun—maybe more so, I haven’t decided—to watch as the Bachelor/Bachelorette.

On the Bachelor, there is one happy couple at the end of the show. This is your friend who is happily married to the guy she met on the first day of college.

Bachelor in Paradise takes everyone else and puts them in a room together and lets them sort themselves out. And they say things like, “I just wasn’t that interested in the Bachelor on my season,” because duh. And there is a lot of making out.

People say things like, “Your boobs look outrageously good right now,” which I can verify from experience is a real thing women say to each other. In between talking about social change, stock markets, and the dissolution of the monastery class in the 18th century.

7.
There is a growing social network created by online dating sites in cities across the United States. I went to a CD release party for a former Tinder date’s band. While there, I met a nice-looking man wearing my same sneakers who lives in Germany. Who went to high school here and we ended up swapping stories about mutual friends. I’ve let Tinder dates know about job openings that I knew they’d be interested in. I am quite sure that some of your dates would like some of my dates and that six degrees of Kevin Bacon has been replaced by six degrees of online dating (or maybe it’s more like 2 degrees and a bacon emoji and how is there not a bacon emoji).

8.
What happens when you put all of this in a room together and mix it with a bar and Britney and Ginuwine played at full volume? Will you jump on it, let’s do it, ride it, my pony?

9.
I guess we’ll find out in two weeks, on September 17. I made a social experiment an art party. And you’re invited.

Brian McGuigan, Jean Burnet, Steve Barker, Corina Zappia, and I will read stories about online dating. One of the readers has promised to eviscerate him/herself. One of them has promised that s/he will tell the most embarrassing stories s/he can think of. One of them may talk about catfishing.

Ryan Molenkamp and Carrie DeBacker will show art about online dating. Ryan draws portraits of pets he matched with online. Carrie asked for advice before online dating and was told, “If he seems like a creeper, he probably is.” So she did what anyone in their right mind would do and created the Creeper, an 8-foot-tall caterpillar-like creature and painted his relationship with a human woman—going to yoga, going to the movies, doing the crossword.

Babeland will give away an incredibly expensive sex toy to the lucky, lucky winner of online dating bingo. And they’ll teach a workshop on sex tips and tricks, because sex, guys, am I right?

Anyway, it’s at 8 pm at the Fred Wildlife Refuge. Some of their walls are painted bright pink and some are zebra striped. There are a few booths with a curtain you can pull which I’m not saying are perfect for making out. I’m just letting you know about them.

$5 at the door. Start saving your laundry quarters.

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