Guys using social media to find ‘lost flames’ are creepy, not romantic

Ask someone out the normal way mate


There’s no word to describe the smudged, halfway space between pity and contempt. If there was, I’d use it to describe boys like Jack Fox and Alex Carr. 

Jack Fox, the Leeds Uni grad who plastered Hyde Park with enticing posters of himself to get the attention of Law student Jasmine Fearnley.

Jack stripped off and posed in order to woo the her, but the object of his affection said she didn’t want to know. And who can blame her, when this is what Jack used to get her attention:

Really Jack?!

Really Jack?!

Then there’s Alex Carr, a wispy looking postgrad at Sheffield  who emailed every Jess at his uni in order to find a girl he’d met on Halloween.

His email read: “I met someone called Jess studying Biology on Saturday but didn’t get her number so I’m just saying hi to everyone who might be her”. This is what Alex looks like by the way:

alex-carr-hashtag-sign

Phoar

I understand what stories like these are supposed to make us feel. We’re supposed to call them “lovelorn”, describe them as “Prince Charming”. These are the boys who hold open doors and pull out chairs for girls, the boys who ask people out on night buses.

Like a million bad rom coms, we’re supposed to cheer on the nerdy guy chasing after the seemingly unobtainable, unknowable beauty. There are boys like this at every university in the country, leaving unwanted notes on library desks, spying on girls from behind their MacBooks.

We’re expected to find these people admirably hopeless and a bit romantic but the plot twist is that they’re massive creeps.

The most sinister element of this phenomenon is how public it all is. Both Alex and Jack accompanied their stalkery campaigns with hashtags, so other people could join in the hunt.

Jack even plastered Leeds with those posters, leading to poor Jasmine to tell us she was “confused” by them, adding: “I’ve taken down at least twenty posters”.

jack4jasmine2

By broadcasting their crushes on social media and plastering them on lampposts, these guys tried to take out insurance against rejection. These girls have to say yes to them, because they’ve tried so hard and so originally to get them, they feel like the girl “owes” them a date at the very least. When did men become this desperate?

What happened to flirtationships and l’esprit de l’escalier and sarcasm and never, ever daring to tell the person you like how you really feel? What happened to the neon epic of Saturday night, the cab there and the cab back, the walk home in the morning when you’re a cocktail of elation and disgust?

There’s an arms race out there right now, an arms race to find the wettest, weirdest way to tell a girl you like them as possible. Who’s to blame for this revolting sentimentality? You could point to Kanye and the way he proposed to Kim, with a 50 person orchestra, a football stadium and a fuck load of fireworks. You could consider that super uncomfortable card scene in Love Actually.

For my money, there’s a much stranger and unsettling explanation for the fact they can’t actually speak to girls and for their exhibitionism. Between the rising number of sexual attacks from Manchester to Sheffield to Cardiff and the “anti-feminist” fresher who never wants to have a girlfriend, sex at uni is becoming increasingly toxic.

There’s an emerging polarisation, cultured by influential organisations like the NUS and commentators like Milo Yiannopoulos, which, whether intentionally or not, encourages men to see all women as “bitches” and women to see all men as “rapists”.

In this messy environment, boys like Jack and Alex, probably scared of chatting to girls in the first place, find themselves even more confused and worried than they would be naturally. That’s why they’re both circumventing the normal rules of pulling and upping the stakes by make their weirdness public.

What they don’t realise is, far from being romantic, they’re creepy pieces of a progressively more problematic puzzle.