It’s been more than a month since I started self-isolating. I found myself wallowing, sprawling while the uncertainty creeps deep within. It’s a constant battle, deciding whether I’ll do something to pass time, or just tend to myself and do a little bit of self-care.
The pandemic hovering over our heads somehow slapped us with realizations. We were forced to do some retrospection, particularly in our relationships.
In this quandary, people have started reconnecting with the people that matter — friends, family, significant other, crushes, exes (really?), and persons close to their hearts — and to someone I deeply adore, I happen to not be part of it.
One slice of pizza, one slice of warmth
Three weeks ago, I started to move on from another almost relationship. I asked myself, “Was there even an us to begin with?” I scroll back to the messages I bravely sent over Instagram which was left unread, perhaps deleted, and I pondered: Why didn’t I step away the moment I sensed some red flags?
Maybe because I still cherish the last date where we shared a delectable pepperoni pizza, along with a mouthwatering bacon and cheese pasta. Perhaps, it was that instantaneous connection, where we just clicked and bonded over similar interests. That fiery spark you suddenly feel. Or was it the conversation that dragged on for over four months? With every message and checking up that made me feel special. And loved. That’s probably it. Loved.
After all, we’re humans and we just want to feel loved. To be caressed, nurtured, taken cared of. In between the delusions, I might’ve purposely disregarded the mixed signals. “He’s into me,” I told myself repeatedly just like Gigi from that heart-wrenching movie He’s Just Not That Into You.
“If the person you like certainly likes you, he or she will make an effort”
Maybe it wasn’t heart-wrenching to some, but for people (like me) who struggled with unreturned phone calls, and dealt with stringing along and indecisiveness from the person in question, that film felt like a nail gun to my chest. Just like in the movie, I saw myself in those Baltimorean women struggling with reading someone’s romantic interest.
Like a puppy asking for a bite
I looked back in my conversation with this person I deeply adore, sneaking away to take another glance at his Instagram profile. With the technology we have, how hard is it to communicate? Then it hit me: That dating advice Gigi received still rings true up to this day. Who would’ve known that ten years later, that advice will still be an absolute truth?
If the person you like certainly likes you, he or she will make an effort — not sending you breadcrumbs as if you were a puppy desperate to get a bite of tiny leftovers.
“If they don’t want to call you, they won’t.”
I wish I had realized this sooner and didn’t let myself be blinded by non-committal offers. He was vague, inconsistent, and kept on sending mixed signals. That should’ve been the sign that it’s not going anywhere. Katy Perry, through her song “Hot and Cold”, perfectly encapsulated the way this person behaved, and I let his erratic actions trample all over me just because I thought he was really into me.
It’s not what you deserve
What confused me back then was the intense interest he showed. I kept asking myself, “does he really like me?” It’s as if he was purposefully leading me on. I learned this the hard way.
Despite all the butterflies, I regret wasting my time falling head over heels with this person. Some part of me wished I didn’t entertain and didn’t believe that it was what I deserved. I guess at that moment, I ascertained my worth. That urged me to put more value on myself.
In front of the mirror, I glare with strength and poise, “I’ll never settle to anything less.” Somehow, having a mantra to chant every morning made me feel stronger. Gladly, this came in a situation where I can be alone to process everything without distraction. Perhaps, a silver lining in the catastrophe that China caused.
Glued to smartphones, but no communication
But just like any other person, I wasn’t able to move forward instantly. There were moments of doubt, a barrage of emotions waiting to be dealt with, bouts of insanity, and giving and making excuses. He’s probably busy; he’s having difficulty coping with this pandemic; or perhaps, he’s doing a digital detox since I do it regularly, too.
The only difference is I know how to respond — with an unwavering interest — to people that I truly like and people close to my heart. It hit me: If they don’t want to call you, they won’t. Because that’s how I do it, too.
“You’ll always take some time to reach out to that person you like.”
Our lives are now on phones and laptops, and it’s pretty difficult to grasp the truth that we aren’t worth responding to. I know, I know. Reading this might make you think this is a precedent to a clingy and toxic behavior. I’m telling you, it’s not. My life (and my job) had me glued to my gadgets, with communication being second-nature, especially in this remote working setup we all find ourselves in.
It’s easy to have unread messages when a lot is going on because I happen to have that exact situation. People are left on my inbox, notifications are hardly checked — immediately swiping it out of your screen promising to check it later (but of course you’ll forget about it).
You are the antidote to your poison
Knowing the reality of a busy life can make you gloss their inconsistencies over, pushing yourself to believe that they have a lot on their plates. You’ll keep making yourself believe they haven’t had the time. When that moment happens, that’s the time you need to suck that poison out of your life. Stop giving yourself false hopes. You are your antidote, and only you can save your life.
Here’s some truth pill that may be hard to swallow: It’s not that difficult to send one message to keep the connection alive. You’ll always take some time to reach out to that person you like. It might not be right away, but you’ll always make an effort to show you care.
At least, that’s what I would do. I know for a fact that I will express my interest the way I want to receive it, too. If s/he still doesn’t, even after giving him or her numerous chances, dear, it’s time to walk away.
You deserve someone who won’t make you guess whether s/he’s into you.
Love in the 21st century is a series of essays and anecdotes tackling modern love, relationships, and dating in the age where technology is at the forefront, playing a key role in connecting two hearts, even from a distance.
Dating apps will stop letting you search by race
In response to Black Lives Matter protests
Since its inception, online dating has always presented an interesting conundrum. To access the services, users are shrinking themselves down to individual nuggets of data focused entirely on who they are. In doing so, they enter a vast lottery of people, searching for people according to their preferences. However, one of these nuggets is unarguably the most controversial topic today: ethnicity.
Though Tinder does not allow searching by ethnicity, other dating apps — Grindr, OkCupid, and Hinge — do, allowing users to search potential matches based on their race. However, Grindr is taking an all-new stand, in response to the ongoing protests happening across America.
— Grindr (@Grindr) June 1, 2020
Announced on Twitter, the popular dating app for gay, bisexual, and transsexual men supported the Black Lives Matter movement. However, rather than just making its stand known, Grindr has announced the end of its ethnicity search function. In the next update, the app will take the feature out completely.
However, in a statement to Forbes, other similar dating apps will keep the ethnicity search. According to these companies, minority groups still want the search function to find other people like them.
Regardless, it’s an interesting time for dating apps in general. For one, social distancing has put physical dating to a complete halt, necessitating new socially distant matching tools. Secondly, with race turning into a touchy topic for everyone all over the world, how will dating apps respond?
Tinder will soon allow you to match with anyone around the world
Global Mode will roll out beta tests next week
Tinder has always relied on an important feature: geolocation. By using your device’s location, the popular dating app connects you with people in your immediate area (or whatever radius you manually set). Naturally, social distancing has made physically connecting impossible during the pandemic.
As such, Tinder is now testing a new feature that will allow users to match with anyone in the world. Currently on testing, the new Global Mode enters interested users to a much more global agora of daters.
As reported by The Verge, the upcoming feature will still differentiate itself from Tinder’s already existing global functionalities. Currently, Tinder offers a premium service called Passport which allows users to match with other users in a manually specified region.
In comparison, Global Mode will not offer users control over where their profiles will eventually land. It’s a global roulette over which country will find you attractive. Likewise, to differentiate the feature from Passport, Global Mode is completely free.
Since the pandemic, Tinder has tried various features for thirsty daters stuck at home. Last month, the app offered Passport to all its users for free. The app is also testing a new video chat feature, reducing the need for a third-party messaging app.
Global Mode will start rolling out for testing purposes next week.
What’s the safest way to have cybersex during quarantine?
Always practice safe sex!
A blazing hot summer isn’t the only reason people are shedding their clothes during the pandemic era. Between separated lovers and thirsty singles in your area, everyone is experiencing a rougher time getting their groove on. As a result, people are running to digital messaging and broadcasting platforms to express their horny sides.
However, as the pre-coronavirus world is wont to tell you, cybersecurity isn’t as safe as one might imagine. Work-from-home employees are quickly learning about privacy risks with their preferred conferencing apps. For example, Zoom, the work-from-home community’s golden child, has repeatedly caused shady privacy hiccups, including Zoombombing (or when unauthorized Zoom users invade other people’s Zoom calls). That said, given how risky office calls already are, how much riskier is it to sext these days?
Sliding into those DMs
Naturally, the simplest form of sexting is the good old-fashioned nude photo. Since the advent of Twitter, DMs have always been home to naughty lewds and unsolicited dick pics. Likewise, the same can be said of Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct. How safe are these forms of communication for your nudes?
Unfortunately, not very. Though they are private in nature, direct messaging features are hardly the most secure of platforms. This has a lot to do with encryption. Despite Facebook’s and Twitter’s best attempts, completely secure messaging is still a distant hope. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, only Facebook Messenger offers a secret conversation feature, allowing messages to be end-to-end encrypted. Twitter has tried encryption before, but so far hasn’t rolled out the feature after the test. Instagram, unfortunately, is still working on its own variant.
Meanwhile, the more dedicated messaging services — like WhatsApp and Telegram — already have end-to-end encryption built in. If you’re planning to go old-school sexting, using these apps might be your best bet. Also, if you and your partner both have iPhones, FaceTime uses end-to-end encryption as well.
What does this all mean? Unencrypted messages are prone to unauthorized third parties. You can get hacked. On the other hand, regular encryption protects against malicious hackers. However, the company can still access your data if it needs to. Even if they claim to not touch your data, they still can. True end-to-end encryption protects your data from both hackers and the company, ensuring that only the sender and the receiver can access the data. That said, there are still ways to illegally access encrypted data as was what happened with WhatsApp recently. Ultimately, it’s all about how much risk you are willing to handle.
Booming while Zooming
Likewise, the issue of security pops up again in video conferencing apps. As mentioned above, Zoom is already in hot water for providing less-than-stellar privacy measures. Even now, malicious parties can just as easily access your Zoom calls without your permission. Rumors of the company’s Chinese ties aren’t helping its cause either.
That said, sexy video chats are always going to be a thing. Especially now, there’s no other way to express physical intimacy for distanced lovers than through Zoom, Skype, or Discord. How safe are you when you take your clothes off on these platforms?
This is when it gets tricky. Technically, Zoom, Skype, and Discord all restrict adult content on their respective platforms, based on their terms of service. Under the strictest implementation of the rule, users shouldn’t send nude selfies or have sex shows through these apps.
However, how can these companies expect to enforce this rule? The only feasible way for enforcement is by monitoring accounts directly. Naturally, no one wants that. And companies will never own up to such an invasion of privacy.
At most, some companies claim to use AI and machine learning to catch these calls in the act. According to Zoom’s statement on Rolling Stone, the platform uses “a mix of tools, including machine learning” to help with enforcement. However, when the publication asked for more details regarding the supposed tools, Zoom refused to answer, potentially confirming the measure’s non-existence.
In 2018, Microsoft adjusted its code of conduct to restrict nudity and pornography. In terms of enforcement, the document explicitly refers to the right to go over your submitted content when “investigating alleged violations.” Like Zoom, Microsoft doesn’t have a crystal-clear way to find violators. “Alleged violations” means that the company must rely on other people reporting violators.
NSFW content is allowed in DMs and video chat provided that all parties involved are consenting and of appropriate age. In servers, NSFW content can only be posted in appropriately flagged NSFW channels.
— Discord (@discord) April 11, 2018
Though they have the same problem, Discord has a more open approach to adult content. Like Zoom and Microsoft, Discord doesn’t allow adult content. However, the platform can allow them under certain circumstances. According to a tweet from their official account, “NSFW content is allowed in DMs and video chat provided that all parties involved are consenting and of appropriate age.” Also, Discord allows users to mark communities as NSFW, curbing some of the blow.
How does this go back to the issue of encryption? Because companies will investigate user reports, Zoom, Skype, and Discord will not offer true end-to-end encryption. Though they have standard encryption, the company can still view your content if they need to.
If anything, Discord has more convenience as a platform out of the three mentioned. Regardless, if security is your priority, true end-to-end encryption — such as those offered by WhatsApp and Telegram — is still your best bet.
The human factor
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, the true risk lies in the people you share nudes with. If you don’t strip responsibly, your sexting partner can easily save your nude selfies, capture screen recordings of you getting it on, or broadcast your livestream elsewhere.
Even if you choose the most secure platform, people can still mess with you. At the very least, make sure you completely trust your partner. And not just the he’s-my-boyfriend type of trust. Make sure that, even if you break up, they won’t betray you at all.
If you’ve successfully found yourself such a partner and decided on a secure platform, don’t be afraid to express your sexuality as much as you want. Your body is your own.
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