POLITICS ON TINDER
Written in Dutch for the newspaper De Standaard - Column 'The Opinion' #2
The forming of our government appears to be failing once more. I read how smarter people come up with different scenarios, a number of what-if-stories. If it hadn’t been so sad, it would’ve been comical. I think back to our ministers who climbed out through the window to escape the press. A good summary of our political leadership, avoiding not only interviews but also responsibilities. No, I don’t want to talk about politics. Even politics rarely talks about politics these days.
I quickly scan through the articles, and suddenly get a notification on my smartphone from a match in a dating app. A handsome man starts up a digital conversation. In my head, I can still see our ministers climb out the window.
I ask him about his political preference. A bit surprised on the topic, he chooses “center-right”. He doesn’t mind that I’m a lefty, he expected as much. He tries to ease my mind, saying he has friends with all kinds of political beliefs: left, but also radical right.
I think it’s odd he tries to use that as a selling point. I draw the line at racism, I say, also when it comes to friendship. He wanted to talk about something else, but then asks me if I believe a radical right minded person can’t change his mind?
Of course not, I say. But then that implies he’s no longer radical? I sometimes change my mind about ten times a day, but rarely find myself in the radical corner. That’s what I have trouble with, I tell him. With the non-changing, close minded, persistent sticking to a voice despite the crap it’s proclaiming. Voices rarely listen to their own sound, seldom change tone.
He defends the right to extremist thinking. I nod, but no one sees me. I’m not denying anyone’s rights. But views that exclude people and deny human rights based solely on the color of someone’s skin or their sexual preference, shouldn’t be leading this country. That’s my view, I say.
He wants to change the subject again. Says it’s a strange conversation. Politics on Tinder. Probably very different from those men who immediately ask for sex? I laugh, it is indeed refreshing. And then he asks - abruptly and a bit too curiously - whether I get those often… those sexual requests? And what my reply would be?
For a minute, I thought this was a good conversation, but I’m changing my mind. Sometimes I respond that it’s inappropriate. Sometimes I prefer to climb out through the digital window and refrain from saying anything at all.
But I think of the right to both our views, form a long message with my thumbs, explain how I think it’s a disappointing approach and that I had hoped for more content and full sentences. Whether or not they be about politics. Sentences in which we would listen to each others voices a little while longer before letting our bodies speak. I consider it a possible scenario, for the forming of relationships and perhaps even governments, and it seems to me - not just on Tinder - a good start.