Let me preface this post by saying that I have never in my life used Tinder before, so all of my knowledge (“knowledge”) is secondhand and therefore it’s extremely likely that I do not have any place to be commenting about it whatsoever, but as you might have guessed, I’m just going to be obnoxious and go ahead with it anyway.
So, this newest online dating phenomenon is not even actually online dating but mobile dating—a dating app. Right in between your Instagram full of Starbucks cups and cool looking sunsets and the long-forgotten Temple Run, you can meet the love of your life, giving Tinder the vibe of being oh so hip and down with the cool young crowd rather than those boring people on Match.com or eHarmony.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I have gathered about how Tinder works: it’s basically the kind of situation where you set up your profile—complete with a selection of all of the most flattering photos of yourself as well as a list of your favorite music, movies, and books (making sure to leave out anything that makes you look anything other than the perfect balance of cultured and sophisticated yet quirky and nerdy-but-cute (not that anyone is really looking at this part very much, anyway))—and then set it toward a range of distance and age, to seek possible “matches.” You swipe through a stream of all of your potential candidates and if you like what you see you can “match” with one of them. If they return the favor, you two can start chatting it up and let your love blossom. For any of the Tinder-experienced folk, is this about how it goes down?
And let it be known that I am totally not ragging on relationships made through the Internet. I have gone through the whole process of meeting awesome friends through various methods of internet interaction, and then meeting them in real life in order to confirm that not only are they in fact just as awesome as they seemed, but they also have the fortunate bonus of not being creepy old men.
But my issue with Tinder is that if you are looking for anything other than a hook-up, you are obviously in the wrong place. Except for that one poor unsuspecting individual that might be hopelessly searching for his or her future significant other in a pool of candidates who are all really not interested in any future past this upcoming weekend, obviously I highly doubt that many people are actually expecting to get a long-term relationship out of Tinder. Most people are only doing it for fun. Yet, something seems a little sad to me that the entire set up of judging whether or not you’re feelin’ it in approximately five seconds based on one or two photos pretty much discourages anything other than hook-ups. And don’t get me wrong—I’m totally not opposed to casual hook-ups. If you’re a college student not looking to settle down just yet, then heck, go wild! Be young and free and reckless! But not too reckless! Always use protection! But the continuous swiping through face after face turning the entire experience into a mindless game just makes me feel weird. Sure, it does sound like fun. It gives you an excuse to be anonymously superficial and reject people based almost entirely on their appearance, and who doesn’t like that sense of power? YAY OBJECTIFICATION. And then someone “matching” with you gives a little positive boost of self-esteem and confidence because, hey, who doesn’t like to know that people find you physically attractive? It’s a nice feeling, but at the same time chances are that absolutely nothing else is going to come out of that—not even a hookup—and thus will begin the addiction to Tinder in order to continue getting your fix of this unsatisfyingly brief satisfaction, and it turns into a vicious cycle.
All of this being said, my cynicism can only go so far because one of my close friends met her current boyfriend of almost a year through Tinder and they are one of the most adorable couples ever and I swear they are perfect for each other. Her friend set it up for her as a joke, but then what do you know, she happened upon someone that immediately sparked her interest, they started talking, they met for the first time, and the rest is history. This couple is in their mid-twenties though, which leads to me to believe that their successful relationship might be more of an age range effect than anything at all related to the value of Tinder. But nevertheless, these two allow me to temporarily set aside the problematic aspects of Tinder and embrace the concept of widening your pool of human interactions beyond your immediate vicinity in the hope of meeting someone who could become an incredible part of your life, but that might just be my inner-romantic taking over my logical and realistic side for once.