Drawing of chicken holding a smartphoneBy Farah Haidari ’15

Volume XXXV, Issue 3, April 19, 2013

Being in a long-distance relationship makes it super fun to criticize Amherst’s dating culture. Students in LDRs are free to make snarky retorts about how shitty dating in college is without having to suffer any of the shittiness. If dating were politics, LDR-ers would be the Jon Stewarts of their colleges.

I say all of this as someone who’s been in an LDR (more or less) for her entire time at Amherst. Since I’ve never needed to date anyone here, I’ve had a blast “hatin’” on the “datin’” scene. This semester, though, I stopped being in an LDR (i.e. self-isolated out of academic panic) and found myself immediately dropped into the very position I’d spent the past 1.5 years laughing at: being single at Amherst. If I wanted to stop being single at Amherst, I’d have to go looking…at Amherst.

Luckily, I didn’t have to look far. Around the time of my break-up, the Amherst-y institution of “Amherst Crushes” was established. I did not receive a crush (THANKS A LOT, EVERYBODY), but I did happen to “Like” one of the posts. This particular post was one of the many that encouraged free sex. I “Liked” it (because I actually liked it) because I thought its bluntness made it both funny and liberating.

Now, here’s the surprising/exciting part! Shortly after I’d “hit dat Like” (not a saying, I know), the once-anonymous poster messaged me from his real Facebook account. It was a short message. I’m not sure how to summarize it while still respecting the sanctity of the private Facebook message, so I’ll just say that the gist was, “Ball’s in your court.”

I liked the combination of aggressive honesty and lack of pressure in his message, so I told him to consider himself “back-pocketed” (which, unlike “ball’s in your court,” is an original catchphrase that I use in reference to my hook-up queue; please feel encouraged to spread awareness of this word as the proper term for my hook-up queue (spreading awareness earns you fast-track priority in the queue)). Once he was secure in my back pocket, we sustained contact by occasionally chatting on the interwebs.

One night, while hanging out in Friend A’s room, I finally got wine-drunk (i.e. dramatic-drunk) enough to consider booty calling him. Then, my bag, which held all of my ID cards and my room key, got locked away in Friend B’s room when B departed across campus to the Socials. With no way to re-enter my own room, I decided to follow through with the booty call.

We still hadn’t exchanged numbers, so I Facebook messaged him from my Android, opting for the bold-yet-elegant classic: “where u kickin it tonight.” But he didn’t respond. I returned to Friend A’s room to “chill”, while privately/anxiously re-loading my Facebook app on loop.

I waited two hours, and he never responded.

Wine-drunk and jacked on nervous endorphins, I reclaimed my bag and trekked back to my dorm. Along the way, I did some Android-aided investigating and found that my Internet boy-toy had, indeed, used Facebook since I sent my message. I had expected this, since he’s almost always online. Yet, he still hadn’t responded.

By the time I reached my room, I had convinced myself that he was scared. In this fear-based explanation, I found sympathy for him. The idea of having sex with someone new made me nervous, too. Honestly, I was dreading new-sex. The only reason I’d messaged him that night was to push myself along—to get over my ex and to get back in the mode of being a young, carefree, wind-tousled sex-machine.

Along with sympathy, my fear-based explanation for his avoidance gave me immense relief. Even though I didn’t really want to have sex with him, I still tried! We were both apprehensive, yet trying to live up to some sexual ideal. In our mutual quest to say, “I had sex with someone this weekend,” he halted our progress by ignoring my hookup prompt. I had sent the last message and he had let his fear get the best of him.

I won the game of sexual Chicken.

Satisfied with my intimacy-willpower and content in my solitude, I curled up with my stuffed animals and drifted off to self-congratulatory sleep.

The next morning, I woke up with the #6 worst wine hangover of my life. In my haze of evil Cabernet Sauvignon ghosts, I remembered the previous night’s disappointment and rolled over to grab my phone. I chuckled to myself, imagining the sorts of responses he might have sent me since last night. Maybe an “Oh lol didn’t have my phone on,” or a “Whoops guess I should go on Facebook more.” I opened the Facebook app, eager for self-gratification. The following message appeared on my phone: Message not delivered.

What.

…GODFUCKINGDAMMIT.

First, Androids suck.

Second, I suck. I suck, and I hadn’t won the game of Chicken, and I had failed to overcome my fear of intimacy.

So how can I deflect blame here and attribute it to some larger cultural trend?

Answer: Facebook.

(Now I’m blameless and relevant.)

I lost the game of Chicken because I was being a chicken. “Where u kickin it” does not exactly constitute a bold move; even if it had been delivered, it doesn’t point to sex. Aside from my message’s failed delivery and content, I had been stalling to reciprocate his hookup prompt from the very beginning (instead opting for 18 days of platonic wine discussion.) The only reason I considered the hookup was the non-committal, pressure-free nature of his original message. By chatting online, we had been making subtle gestures at interaction where we otherwise would have had to make more committal advances. Facebook enabled my non-committal advances.

Now, (Wait for it! Twist coming! Get ready!) this sort of enabling of non-committal advances might actually be a good thing. I didn’t really want to have sex, and by enabling subtle social gestures, Facebook reflected my desire to delay sex. So sure, speedy-future-technology may have the power to expedite hookups, but it also has the power to slow them down. And if Facebook’s array of social gestures can help to more accurately represent our intended speed of sexual advances, then it should be welcomed into Amherst dating culture.