For The New Girls: On Twitter, Tinder and Baeism

By Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso)

We all see the subtweets and read the blogs and somehow everyone relates to the experiences of Dom and Aluta referred to by Suburban Zulu. A lot of us are hurting ourselves in this quest for ‘bae-love’ just to prove that our seasonal and whirlwind approach to love is cool. I don’t get it. What is so repulsive about monogamy to the Millenials? Whatever it is, I am not biting; this new non-commital game of Baeism spooks me.

This post was originally published in September 2014  and is republished here as part of our one year anniversary retrospective.

Positive solitude is all the rage when you’re sipping tea and retweeting Warsan Shire, but when you are as acutely aware of the isolation that comes with not having a significant other (who doesn’t want to cuddle and wake up to coffee in the mornings?), then the very same solitude can closely resemble loneliness. So I was lonely, and everyone who was knocking at my door in real life wasn’t a fit for me, so I downloaded the popular dating app, Tinder, at the suggestion of a non-hypothetical friend.

To my surprise and pleasure I met a really good looking and just all round good guy on Tinder. From what I’ve gathered not many people even find guys that they like, but this guy was a knock out. How Tinder works is you create a dating profile via Facebook (to avoid cat-fishing) and you swipe right for the guys you like and left for the guys you don’t like (look how easy the internet has made rejection!) We liked each other on the cloud, and then we liked each other in real time. Engrossed in my short-lived life of cuddles and morning coffee, I was completely oblivious to the love culture beyond the four walls around us and I’ll be the first to admit that monogamy is not overrated. When that rendezvous ended and I made a return to check in on the lusty love pools on Twitter and Instagram, I was confronted with this ‘bae’ word.

WTF?

From what I have gathered from these Instagram posts of bae’s and their significant others and the same bae’s who swipe right on your Tinder app, the internet is turning our generation into an intersected cistern of lust and immediate self-gratification. We like what we see and we want it. It’s not uncommon to see 50 likes and comments of adoration when you post a cute couple selfie of you and bae (which stands for Beyond All Else, I like to think it’s a cute pet name, like babe). But it would be naïve to assume that the same people who are liking your photos aren’t creeping into your DMs with a ‘hey boo’. It’s a petri-dish of attraction and satisfaction. And the worst thing is that it’s become standard procedure. Bae-ism is the modus operandi amongst the Millenials.

The fuck is bae-ism anyway? I first saw references to ‘bae’ on twitter and the Dead Poet inside me was not wooed by the word or the concept which I think involves a messy triad of side-chicks, drama and ‘love’. In fact I heard a debate about the rules of engagement with side-chicks on YFM sometime this year. I was perplexed by the ‘engaging’ conversation about the rules to having a side-chick on the pioneering Yona Ke Yona. YFM was at first created out of a vision to spark change in the imaginative and ambitious black youth of South Africa. And boy have we continued to be imaginative, case in point: Bae-ism. A whole new word and love-lifestyle has been created out of black youth pop-culture. Seriously guys, what the fuck? Maybe I’m boring and these bae topics dull me, whatever it is, I’m not cut out for it.

In my moments of quiet introspection when my bad frequencies are tuned all the way up, I can’t help but shake the feeling that there’s something malevolent about baesim and my place in it. I do think there’s something bad about us all if we are honest. Personally, I like to draw my self-help on self-awareness from Freud and Spielrein because biologically and professionally, science trumps opinion.

Self-awareness revealed my own agenda of ‘a great love’ to me. Call it what you want, but I’ve found that a lot of us want the same thing: unsolicited and unconditional togetherness.

My great love wants to be epic and sincere and it doesn’t want to feel the pressure of the dramatic, public and sometimes even violet type of love that is becoming increasingly popular in this generation of baeism. I don’t think it’s self-righteous of me, or emotionally detached (as I’ve been called), I’m just not ‘bae’ material because my individual love language is of quiet quality time. Perhaps I’ve been listening to too much Majid Jordan, but intentionally and genuinely, I only want to keep things quiet, and I only want to be together.

I must say that Baeism was never a part of my plan, but I think it has happened to me; maybe even a few more times than I’m willing to admit. And I didn’t even know it had happened until one of you clever twits coined a term for it. But I have seen the shockwave effects of the baeism-bomb in some of you: the twitter Warsan-tea-sipping type (really, no shade) who turns 180° and goes Rihanna-bad after a bad break-up with ‘bae’.

We all see the subtweets and read the blogs and somehow everyone relates to the experiences of Dom and Aluta referred to by Suburban Zulu. A lot of us are hurting ourselves in this quest for ‘bae-love’ just to prove that our seasonal and whirlwind approach to love is cool. I don’t get it. What is so repulsive about monogamy to the Millenials? Whatever it is, I am not biting; this new non-commital game of Baeism spooks me.

It spooks me because girls are becoming the guys who hurt them. We don’t mean to, but what else is one supposed to do in this game of hoes and self-preservation? This is emotional, that’s a human instinct in most of us. A basic function of the brain’s limbic system. But I don’t want it to be labelled emotional or seem as if I’m ‘whylin’ just because I’m a woman. If your girl gets angry because you cheat on her or cancel plans 11 times, that’s not whylin, that’s just an appropriate response.

Is ‘baeism’ the sign of the evolution of love in our egocentric, fickle, and game-playing generation? Or are we slipping to the point of no return, a doomed bunch determined to make connections through cute posts of bae’s legs, different DMs and dysfunctional ‘what are we’ relationship questions? If this is baeism, then I don’t want it. It’s not enough.

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