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Ask Ogonna: Swipe right on face-to-face interactions

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Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna or ask her at ask.fm/askogonna


Reader: Where do I meet people on this campus without using dating apps?

Ogonna: Everywhere. Literally, we can meet people everywhere.

For example, that person in Thompson Library that you just tweeted about to OSU Crushes? What a novel idea it would be to actually go over and talk to them…

I strongly believe that we as a generation have lost our ability to connect on a real level with each other outside of technology and social media. We no longer understand that a simple hello from a stranger doesn’t have to be a threat but could very well be the start of something new. We think it’s acceptable to ask out strangers through a device, but it’s absurd to strike up a conversation with our classmates.

To exemplify what I mean, here is a snippet of a real conversation I overheard this year. A girl was talking to her friend about how she had been matched with a cute guy from her math class that she always talks to. Because they talk every day, she said she feels it might be too awkward to start something now and maybe she would wait until they meet up at a party or something.

This situation described above is exactly what is wrong with our society today. We are so dependent on a digital platform to tell us when and where it’s acceptable to make social connections that we lose faith in our ability to do so ourselves. We reject any notion of a stranger wanting to interact with us in person because flirting is now only socially acceptable through a device. We are so ready to have debates against catcalling, yet we dismiss and ignore the same sexual harassment that comes through the form of images, texts and messages sent through a dating app.

Of the discussions I’ve had with my friends, the biggest complaint is that it’s harder to ask someone out in person because of fear of rejection. We could easily fix that issue with a boost of confidence and a reaffirmed mentality that, hey, there’s more fish in the sea. But let’s focus on the receiver’s end of that wire. Why do we reject so many people who come up to us in person? Why do we think it’s so creepy that someone has the guts to say something in person?

Personally, I know my immediate reaction to anyone I don’t know asking for my name or number is a blunt “No.” But where does that come from? With the advancement of this hookup culture in which we are socially conditioned into thinking hooking up is an acceptable form of “dating,” my fear is that I immediately assume the other person wants to hook up, whatever that entails for them. I’ve also had adverse experiences when, even after I politely say no, the person feels entitled to my companionship. Because they asked me for my name or number, I am required to give it to them. I think we need a review on guidelines for how a face-to-face interaction should occur, yes?

It’s perfectly acceptable to approach someone you don’t know and say hello. You could be attracted to this person, or you could just want to make a new friend. It’s a simple matter of being respectful and aware of what you say and what you do. But just because someone asks for another person’s number or tries to strike up a conversation doesn’t mean it’s required for the other person to reciprocate or accept the gesture. However, just because you are not interested, it doesn’t mean you have to be rude. A simple, “I’m not interested,” or “That’s sweet, but no thanks,” would suffice.

To me, it’s not so much a matter of where to meet people, but how. Whether you are the one initiating a conversation or the one on the receiving end, it’s difficult for us to be comfortable with in-person communication. We are so wrapped up in our phones and our filters that protect us with their touchscreen barriers that we just don’t know how to talk anymore.

But how much greater satisfaction do we get when we find someone who’s attracted to us for who we are in real life and not on a screen? Imagine how beautiful it could be if we started living life unfiltered. It could all start by literally just walking over and saying, “Hi.”

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