I haven’t had much luck with the DC dating scene since moving here a few years ago, so I wasn’t expecting much from Brandon, 26, 1 mile away. We agreed to get a drink at Shaw’s Tavern on a weeknight. He was ten minutes late and I started to wonder if he was coming at all. After so many meh Tinder dates and a few forgettable instances of bad one-time sex, I didn’t care much either way. I had a book at home.
But then Brandon showed up, red-faced and huffing. He was apologetic about being late and explained that he’d ended up on Rhode Island instead of Florida. He had only lived in DC for two weeks, he said. He looked just like his pictures.
And for the first time in months, my date actually went well. Brandon was witty, and had great dimples. He held no evident grudge against my gender or society at large, a refreshing change of pace for a Tinder date. He had just moved to DC from Seattle to work for a startup; he said what he really needed was a guide. Clearly! We walked down U Street and it started to snow. I stuck my tongue out to catch some flakes, and Brandon took a picture with his phone. All and all, a good first date. We scheduled a second one for a few days later.
In the interim, I googled him, and found his personal Tumblr blog. To my surprise, the first thing I saw was a picture of me, my tongue out, catching snowflakes. In addition to the picture, he had written a short account of our date (mostly positive) and had even screenshotted and posted a picture of our jokey Tinder conversation. This unsettled me. As did the rest of his blog. Scrolling down, he had similar posts from other dates he’d been on, one just the day before mine. He also had a bunch of reblogged black and white Tumblr porn pictures (or erotica or whatever) that just seemed strange and kind of pathetic (we get it, you like boobs). There were also a bunch of pictures of street art, lengthy musings about the tech world, his move, and his workout routine. In person, Brandon was fun. But his douchey blog made me nauseous, and I wasn’t sure how to reconcile the two.
I was more guarded on our second date–dinner at Busboys and Poets–and it did not go well. I let him do most of the talking. This apparently miffed him, because he made a comment about how he felt like he was pulling all the conversational weight, that he liked to be asked questions in a conversation, that it was a give and take. So I blurted it out: “What’s with your blog?”
He looked offended, like I’d invaded his privacy.
“What about my blog?”
“Well, I saw that you posted my picture and our Tinder chat without telling me.”
“I guess I didn’t think I needed your permission. I write about the things and the people that happen to me. I’m well within my rights to post my own pictures of people.”
“It’s not really a matter of rights, I just don’t–”
“I’m not going to be censored.”
“Censored! You’ve got to be kidding. I’m not trying to censor you, I just–”
“It sounds a little like you’re trying to censor me.”
I could feel the people at the next table listening to our date implode.
“I’m not, I was just surprised when I googled you and found a picture of myself and our texts at the top of your blog. It’s not that big of a deal, but I think if you’re going to post private conversations, you should at least run it by the other person.”
“I get where you’re coming from, but I think privacy, like conceptually, is basically an illusion at this point.”
“Like, really, there is no privacy, beyond the self.”
I had nothing to say to this so, after a pause, he went on.
“The digital never dies. Data never dies. I feel like we’re witnessing the end of privacy as we know it, and ultimately, I think it’s a good thing. I think transparency is essential to a more open society. I understand why you wouldn’t want to be on my blog, I get it. I do. But I’m also really committed to personal transparency. I’m literally an open book, you can ask me anything.”
“OK. What’s with all the naked women?”
Brandon was silent for a few seconds before coming up with an answer. “I appreciate the female form.”
The subject changed, we finished our dinner, parted with a hug, and didn’t contact one another again. He took down the post about our first date and didn’t write anything about the second. That was the last time I used Tinder.