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Op Eds

Holler At Me, Datamatch

By Jennifer A. Gathright

When it comes to dating, it definitely seems like a disproportionate number of students at Harvard identify with the lyrics of Radiohead’s “Creep” more often than they would like to admit. On occasion, I too have been known to descend into deep, dark awkwardness. For instance, I felt like the words “I’m a creep/I’m a weirdo/What the hell am I doing here” really applied to me one night freshman year, as I perched outside my crush’s dorm room window and watched him for a couple of hours.

Just kidding, I was only there for 30 minutes. Jeez…

Anyway, this is not to say that nobody at Harvard knows how to cultivate a healthy romantic relationship. Indeed, some Harvardians didn’t spend their Valentine’s Days eating copious amounts of sushi with their roommates like I did. If you went on a real date on Valentine’s Day, I, like Adele, wish nothing but the best for you. (You might not have caught that subtle reference to “Someone Like You” because, at the moment, you can relate to the generally lovey-dovey tone of the album “19” more than the tumultuous breakup described in “21.”) But seriously—I applaud you for being one of the socially adept elite.

I, on the other hand, filled out my Datamatch survey, and definitely not in the altruistic way that involves giving the computer the name of my significant other so that the Harvard Computer Society could exploit my romantic success for their algorithm (by the way, thank you, HCS, for reminding me that I indeed do not have a significant other).

According to my survey answers, I can recognize object code when I see it, I can get down with a little bit of sexual humor, and I care just as little about my Datamatch survey answers as anyone else. But what if I maybe cared a little?

What if I told you that, through my answers, I was attempting to find a few cute boys with whom I could discuss object code over a couple of Evelynn Hammondses (according to the Datamatch survey, this drink consists of Bacardi, Coke, and your email inbox)? That would be crazy, right?

I agree that hookup culture is over-discussed, and much of the discussion about hookup culture is unproductive.  Like Slate Magazine’s Katy Waldman, I am sick of old people telling our generation that we’ve lost the ability to love. And, as much as I love to crack the occasional self-deprecating joke about my perpetual singleness, I truly believe that the fact that I don’t have to care about love right now is a luxury worth embracing. I’m eternally thankful that, unlike many women who came before me and many women around the world today, my future does not depend on finding a husband.

For now, I can flirt with a boy without wanting or expecting a free dinner from him and then return home to my true significant others: my problem sets and the Marshmallow Mateys at brain break.

Opining on this so-called “hookup culture” or the “end of courtship” has always been difficult for me because thinking about dating culture always forces me to recognize my own hypocrisy. I complain about the fact that people at Harvard never seem to go on dates (or maybe, just the fact that boys at Harvard never take me on dates), but I blame my woes on dating culture instead of just taking ownership for my own insecurities. I call myself a proud feminist, but I know that I would prefer that a boy be the one to ask me out first.

I am not the only hypocrite. I’ve heard many of my friends—whether male, female, LGBTQ, or straight—complain about the fact that dating at Harvard is “weird” or “screwed up.” Yet, I never hear of people asking their Datamatches out. Seriously, the Harvard Computer Society offers a potentially awesome opportunity to go on up to 10 incredibly awkward first dates, but I bet most people don’t even bother to stalk all of their matches on the Harvard College Facebook.

Maybe our dating culture is truly “screwed up.” Being transparent about what you want from your love interests can be hard and awkward. But, if you aren’t trying hard to make this campus a place where we can be honest and open about the kinds of relationships we want to have with each other, then I’m not so sure that complaining is the best use of your time.

And, to those seven lucky men who were matched with me through the power of data, I say hello. None of you live in the Quad like me, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m down for long-distance if you are. Who knows, maybe you’ll find me perched outside your window tonight.

Jennifer A. Gathright ’16, a Crimson editorial writer, is an economics concentrator in Currier House.

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