My mother told me that she thinks my generation is not serious about love.
This was after we had gone to college. My friends and I had just reconvened in our native Hudson Valley. One of us now had a boyfriend. We congratulated her. They were adorable. She had chosen well for herself — a good-natured, domestic boy to match her spunky timidity. She smiled shyly. “Taking down hookup culture one relationship at a time,” she said. I thought this was a good thing of her to say, but the brief story of her budding relationship was unfortunately sandwiched by the drowning stories of our other friend’s failed hookups.
My mother picked me up afterwards and I sighed. The night was already mature in upstate New York, although the car time only read 10 p.m. “We’ve changed, Mom,” I said, and she laughed because it was only November.
“No, really,” I said. “Everyone’s falling in love, or thinking they are.”
“What’s the difference?”
Mummified in a northeastern winter and studying (waiting) for second semester, I was trying to apply for internships, and my friend was eating all my old chocolate. I had given her permission to do so but, still, the crinkling of the wrappers was getting on my nerves and then there were also the actual noises she made while eating. Twice she said: “I wish someone would write a Tiger Admirers post about me.” After the second time I cheerfully said, “I’m sure someone will! And, really, they’re not that big of a deal anyway.”
Although I am now no longer part of the Facebook group, I took a break with her that night and we watched the blue and white posts fly by under the quick swipes of down-arrow key.
One post read: "2277 — F**k going out to the street. I just want to have a slow dance with a girl at a beach."
My mother thinks that we do not take love seriously. If I showed her Tiger Admirers she would probably point at the other posts which come up when “beach” is searched for (I mean the ones which mention “beach-ready bods” etc.) I am sure she would be able to find dozens of other posts, too, which would justify her claim. Yet I beg to differ. I would say, "Yes, mom," but what about the very fact that Tiger Admirers exists: does that not say anything?
It does. And it says things in only the way college students are capable of. Tiger Admirers is especially powerful because it utilizes both anonymity and open naming in their strongest forms. The admirer is suddenly an 11th-century troubadour poet, cloaking him or herself while praising his or her own versions of Dante’s Beatrice. The admiree, on the other hand, is placed on a pedestal, deified, complete with his or her own marble-engraved name (the blue hyperlink tagged-name even allows a hovering mouse to check out the thumbnail. Bet the Greeks never thought of that!). Self-effacement is the goal here, to relegate oneself to a nameless mouthpiece of praise.
But hold on — I thought the goal of Tiger Admirers was to gain requited love? Or to, alternately, embrace unrequited affections? Or simply to express what might be deemed embarrassing to say in real life? To me, the cathartic nature of Tiger Admirers is what reconciles these two sets of goals: the nominal one of “putting oneself out there” and the actual one of “becoming a nobody.”
What more can be asked of a college student? Our lives are filled with similar situations. These things are here, but not present; they are possessed, but never really had. I think about career choices. I think about major declaration. I think about friend circles and the cultivation of a definite self. And I still have in mind the one-night stands, the fleeting hookups, the singular boldness of “Shall we dance?” — romance, perhaps, but not really love.
So I am a proponent of Tiger Admirers usage.
Aristotle believed in catharsis but Plato did not. I guess I already have a beef with Plato because of his views on art, but when it comes to Tiger Admirers, I’m again an Aristotelian. To me, 2277 was saying less so “F**k going out to the street” but more so, “F**k posting on Tiger Admirers”; less so “I just want to have a slow dance with a girl at a beach” and more so “I just want to say things out loud without feeling stifled by social conventions.” Oh, say it, number 2277. You’ve already begun. Eviscerate this chasm we’ve created. Bridge the gap between falling in love and merely thinking so.
Lavinia Liang is a freshman from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.