Age is just a number was the worst cliché I’d ever heard in high school. I hated it the most because it had become the favorite phrase I heard when creepy dads were trying to hit on me while their wives weren’t looking.
Thanks Woody Allen.
By the time I turned thirty-five and hadn’t married yet, suddenly it was the flipside. My godmother warned me, “Age matters! You HAVE TO start lying.” This advice was hard to take coming from a modern woman who wore sequined tank tops well into her 60's. “Why should I have to lie?” I blinked my pink lashes at her. “It’s the 21st century, right?”
Welcome to the land of Double Standard-stan
I kept not lying about my age, because I believed in honesty and I was pretty bad at math. Besides, what the hell was wrong with forty? I listened to my male cohorts boasting that they got more respect as they aged, while I found myself stuck in a defensive role, trying to rationalize why my experience wasn’t adding up the same. I was tempted to dig up that creepy cliché, because after all, age was just a number, right?
Then I suffered a series of life blows that should never happen to a person in the same week: My fiancé and I broke it off, my boss fired me from my design job, and my band split after nine years of performing together. I was not only facing a worldwide recession alone, I’d hit the end of an era – my era. “Well, at least you don’t look your age.” Friends and family said as if that was a feel-good pill.
Drinking from the fire hose of delusion
I wasn’t worried about my future because my generation had seeded the internet and the digital promise of finding happiness while sitting at a home computer in a bathrobe. I figured I was still in the game – I had no debt, no kids to support; I’d find everything I needed to start my life over, online.
Pounding through applications to find work and love, turned out to be a lot of work that I hated. After a hand-cramping effort that sucked hours, days and months from my life, the mighty flow of delusion began to dry up.
When I got zero replies, I knew something was wrong. I made sure my links linked. I checked for spelling errors, file sizes, and any hints of desperation. That’s when I realized the glitch – I’d been putting my real age on every profile. I hadn’t seen it coming – My age wasn’t just a number; it was ruining my life!
Algorithms didn’t care what flavor of forties I was pulling off; they didn’t know that I’d lived in five different countries and could swear in perfect Japanese. Or that I could sew a couture dress one hour before I’d wear it on stage. These dumb-asses didn’t even know what movies I liked to watch on Netflix!
Algorithms had no idea wheather I was a successful rock star, or a toothless drunk at a bar. Once I checked that over-forty box, in a nano-second, they’d decided that, they were just not that into me.
So, unless I wanted to hack my age, this was the new normal – I’d been banished to the Siberia of un-date-able, and un-hire-able women.
Thanks Woody Allen.
When they go low, we log off.
It was time to call bullsh*t; this relationship was over. Delete. Unsubscribe. Delete. I broke up with every algorithm I didn’t need in my life. It felt gratifying, in the way that deleting a frenemy from Facebook gives you something back, that piece of your soul you lent out past it’s due date.
Not every algorithm is out to get you. But if you find yourself in a frustrating relationship with one that is ageist, sexist, or toxic, dump the loser now. Don’t wait until tomorrow. You are better off following your spidey-sense than letting some programmers’ possibly shitty code find you the important things in life.
Sip that fresh revenge cocktail, as you celebrate your new freedom. But beware of temptation. Like some of the ex’s you’ve jilted in the past, the creepy code will try to win you back. Their ads will appear on your screen like stinky mushrooms – you know – the ones for botox, troll date, and even the same couch you bought six months ago.
So here’s my official reminder: