It takes 14 minutes to stroll from Scully to Madison Hall — the most disparate housing locations on campus. Frist is always swarming with people you know. A disproportionate amount of your time at Firestone is taken up by whispered conversations. Solitary meals at dining halls rarely go uninterrupted. Cookies at Murray Dodge seldom go unshared. Don’t worry, you’ll all end up at Terrace at the end of the night.
Campus is small. We see each other around all the time. We live, study, work, eat, party, and relax within inches, feet, or at most, a singular mile of one another. Besides incubating diseases that are periodically shared by all members, the close proximity of Orange Bubble inhabitants should preclude the use of dating apps during our four-year residence.
Single adult life is difficult to navigate. How do you know the person you met at a club isn’t a serial killer? Is the barista at your local coffee shop really making eyes at you? Despite the promising nature of the occasional workplace associate, fellow gym goer, or stranger you make prolonged eye contact with while walking down the street, approaching a random person can seem daunting.
But that is not the case at Princeton.
First and foremost, the chances of the person you danced with on the Street being an axe murder are significantly diminished. Even more importantly, there is no need for formulating a contrived setup here. Tinder makes sense in a big city, not an insulated pocket of New Jersey. Sliding into someone’s DMs stands to reason when they live in another state, not when you’ll see them in lab on Thursday. Sustaining relationships over text was necessary back when you had to sneak out of your parents’ house if you wanted to be out past 7 p.m., not when you can talk in person at any hour, with a maximum 15-minute walk as the only obstacle.
This is probably the best opportunity our generation will ever have to develop relationships without digital aid. In college, you can study at the same table as the cute person you always see at Late Meal and strike up a conversation. You can beg that one mutual friend to casually introduce you. You can pluck up the courage, wait around after class, and old-school ask someone out. You can experience awkward rejections and avoid the agony of being left on read.
The face of love is different nowadays, whether we’re pining for hand-written love letters or not. After graduation, it’s a safe bet that dating apps will be the best way for us to meet like-minded people and establish relationships. But at Princeton, where the world is made small again and most students are smart, age-appropriate, verified non-psycho killers, dating apps should be obsolete. If we use dating apps here, they become not a necessary mechanism for establishing connections in an alienating environment, but rather crutches indicating a cowardly inability to weather sensitive interactions in person.
So, don’t lie in bed, idly swiping through the faces you see every day. Just say hello. What’s the worst that could happen?