Like many people, I use TikTok as an escape, a quick dopamine-fueled distraction from the intense world we live in. Show me the stupid dances! Give me the half-assed lip-syncing videos and foulmouthed toddlers! But somewhere along the line, the handy-dandy algorithm decided to flood my feed with dating horror stories, specifically those of straight Black women.
The videos range from calling out the way colorism dictates many people’s dating preferences to doing the complicated job of differentiating between guys with Black girl fetishes and those who are genuinely feeling you for you. As a Black woman, I’m familiar with these issues and the frustrations that come with them and appreciate having a platform like TikTok to voice those very valid feelings and critiques. Who doesn’t love feeling seen and heard? But on the other hand, I already have firsthand knowledge of how shitty it can sometimes be trying to meet new people when you’re a Black woman.
That’s why respectfully—and guiltily—I’ve resorted to clicking that “Not interested” prompt when these videos pop up on my feed. You see, I’ve found that maintaining one’s sanity in the search for love requires a certain amount of delusion. Because even though I’m very much interested in giving Black women the space to air their grievances, it turns out that bingeing a steady stream of tearful videos from women who look like me gets disheartening real quick.
All this because of TikTok videos, you ask? Not exactly. Since what feels like forever, social media, mainstream media, and society at large have bombarded Black girls and women with messages casting our romantic prospects as doomed and despaired. My personal dating experiences and those of my friends are just a tad less drastic than what’s being portrayed on TikTok, but overall, these disaster stories are a pretty fair representation of what it’s like out here. There’s no lack of reports on Black women’s bleak match stats on dating apps and the ever-declining marriage rates stay in the news, in research studies, and across trending videos.
Don’t even get me started on the booming Black men–led industry of relationship advice, from the reality shows to the talk shows to the movies and the self-help books. (Looking at YOU, Steve Harvey and Kevin Samuels.) Not even brunches or group chats are exempt from the convos. Everywhere you look, there’s a wealth of discourse dedicated to amplifying Black women’s extraordinary hurdles in the dating space and ruining my virtual escape hatch.
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That’s why I’ve been scrolling right past the disaster date stories and exiting the app altogether whenever I feel overwhelmed by this type of content. I’ve even started following the cutesy couple accounts of Black women in love, the same ones that would’ve probably nauseated my more cynical past self. Taking steps outside this echo chamber has given me a refreshing new outlook on relationships and what’s available to me. A Pollyanna TikTok approach may seem like a small preservation tool to some, but for me, it’s a move I’ve gotta make to avoid constantly feeling the impact of a heartbreak predetermined by society.
So if it’s unrealistic to expect all men to see Black women as the valuable, beautiful, and worthy human beings we are, then I shall wear my clown nose with pride! Like, is that guy leering at me on the street fetishizing me? Never! Will I spend time unpacking creepy DMs that refer to me as an ebony/chocolate/brown sugar/Nubian queen? Pass! I’m not fooling myself. I see and experience what’s going down. I’m just not dedicating my precious, mindless TikTok time to it anymore. I’m choosing peace and happiness, so help me, God!
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