Adetoye Sokunbi: Hanging out | A modern day tradition of auditioning for sex

by Adetoye Sokunbi

“They have apps for dating now” an older friend once texted me, saying, “I just left a friend who said she has at least 2-3 dates a week. And tons of people across the apps, more than she could f_k, given the time she has in a day” I could tell she was amused and part of me understood her delirium. She is a workaholic hermit; the kind that never left her desk while she was in Lagos. A recent trip out of the country for a long overdue vacation had taken her away from her cyber-cocoon and now she has to catch up with a world where even the tools of flirtation have shifted from flowers and chocolate boxes to mediocre but effective text quips and emojis. All you have to do next is hang-out.

But this is where it gets tricky.

Dating used to be a euphemism for booking sessions with a prostitute. I thought of this as a girl I had been sexting since I was fourteen sent me a text. Our chats have come a long way from exchanging grainy pictures of scrawny naked body parts, now we were two adults looking to chill somewhere with good food and music.

But even now, we reconnected on Instagram after I liked all the pictures where her dress was a little too tight or had a neckline that hung a little too low. We couldn’t talk preferred sex styles like we used to, but even maturity and a slightly better sense of judgment could not make up for a lack of mutual interests. So we saved ourselves the hassle of witty puns and memes and attempts at ‘catching-up’ altogether and quickly re-exchanged phone numbers. We agreed to meet up at a bar around where I stayed, then hang out for drinks after. Neither of us had discussed the possibility of sex that loomed like an unasked question, but we were both thinking it.

Because millennials filter everything through a pretext of humor; a commitment-phobe like me with no intention of actually being with anyone long-term has to always play a game of balance. You have to feign enough interest to elicit sexual interest without snowballing into emotional/relationship-y responsibilities. Depending on what I want from a hang-out, its relationship derivatives can range from ‘going steady’ to an elevated f_k buddy arrangement with perks of emotional support without exclusivity.

But all of this is dependent on the setting, time and place of that first hang out. For example, I won’t bother having a meal with someone I just want to have sex with nor will I catch myself on a weekend get-away with my smoke-and-chill buddy. The key here is to keep all persons of interest on your radar but in their respective lanes.

Even better, social media allows for fabric-level familiarity without prior interaction. All of that awkward first date conversation and desperation for moments of magical sparks can be stripped away for hang-outs conjured through texts and emoji(s), all you need is to be good at studying people. The convenience is so seamless that even the most fundamentalist lovers who still believe in sexless chats and the chivalry of choice location dates, eventually have to agree that if sex was like acting, ‘hanging-out’ is nothing but an audition for the role.

One thing is certain though, for me, like many young people on the internet looking for sex; we’re reinventing ourselves to fit our desires and how we want to be desired. The internet provides endless possibilities of who you can be and how many people you can have. You can be your smoothest self, your smartest self and still look your best at the same time. The slow unveil of someone you have stalked from a wireless distance can be likened to the manifestation of a cyber dream into reality (slightly dramatic metaphor, but I stand by it). That in itself is something to see, as a process of how human beings can methodically recreate themselves as many times as possible to fit their purpose.

But like everything else the internet has given us, love in the age of social media has overburdened us with too much information and an induced attention deficit. Loyalty is already becoming a myth and millennials are now evolving new measures to sustain emotional attractions that do not necessarily translate to monogamy. I mean, as a guy, I would think, if I can get someone else tomorrow, how many movies and meal hang-outs do I want to have with this person I only started texting two weeks ago? Call me cheap but that sounds like an economically logical question anyone adulting in a recession would ask themselves, so why not go for the pot of gold on a first hang-out?

Toye is a content developer and lover of arts with an eye for detail. Since he discovered words, silence has never been more precious. He’s had nothing to say to anyone ever since. He’s had no need to.

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