I thought I had seen it all.
I thought I had endured the worst that the dating world had to offer. I’d been on every dating website going. I speed dated, I met people through MySpace (remember MySpace!). Hell, I even went to one of those hideous “lock and key” parties that were all the rage in 2006. As I’m sure that one day someone from a distant civilisation many thousands of years hence will be looking at this blog (hello internet. Are you still there?) wondering what a “lock and key” party actually was, I should probably make it clear for the historical record that this was not the sort of thing that one might find going on in the suburban enclaves of South London in the 1970s, with fondue in one bowl and car keys in another. It was a singles night of the classical sort that could have come straight from the pre-Internet days when the height of technology-assisted matchmaking could be summarised in an ad for Dateline on the inside cover of the Sunday Times magazine. The classic singles night, with a twist. The twist being a gimmicky rebrand where all the women had to carry around miniature padlocks of the type one might use to secure a suitcase, and all the men had miniature keys, and you had to find your “perfect fit” (I know. I KNOW *sticks fingers down throat and pretends to vomit*).
I thought I had resigned from the dating world years ago. I thought I’d handed in my notice, collected my things and flounced out for the very last time, never to return.
And then I joined Instagram.
Now it might be because my social media accounts contain the dangerously triggering code word “single,” as though that was something that defined my status not as someone who is merely not married, but who must ergo, be desperate. Desperate enough to accept the many tempting offers of “chat” from random men from every corner of the world who send me witty and engaging messages such as “Hi,” “Hello” and *heart shape emoji.*
Men of Instagram, hear this.
I did not join Instagram as a method of meeting men, which is just as well because as a method of meeting men, it sucks. If the best you can come up with is to trawl through my feed looking for the two photos I have which actually show my face, rather than the six thousand which are pictures of my son, a frothy latte or some trees, and then send me a one-word message inviting me to speak to you, then you are desperate indeed. Far more desperate, even, than me, and I went to a Match.com lock and key party.
Perhaps I am being unfair, harsh even. Maybe these men are simply ahead of the curve. Maybe Instagram is the new Match.com, and “hello” is the new chat up line du jour. Gone are the days when you could idle up to somebody at a lock and key party and make some hideous double entendre about keys and locks and tick the online boxes when you wanted to see someone again. Maybe the Insta-world is full of young(ish) men eager to impress and maybe even settle down with someone with a GSOH. Maybe I’m missing out on being the next Insta-sensation in the world of dating; the woman who wrote a blog about being a single mother by choice, and ended up with eligible bachelors hammering on the proverbial door in droves, desperate to cling to the coat-tails of my Insta-fame by announcing themselves as my suitors and knights in shining armour, here to rescue me from the ravages of single motherhood.
So my message to you, O men of Instagram, is this. If your opening gambit is “hello,’ “nice” or a heart shaped emoji, please do not spam me with your desperation. If, however, you are looking for a jaded singleton weary from decades of online dating, have all your own teeth and a GSOH, feel free to contact me. For the love of God just do it through the accepted channels, and not a social media account where I share pictures of my child, my coffee and the local trees. Dear Men of Instagram, NO.