Illustration by Maria Tran
I don’t use Tinder for obvious reasons, but those reasons can only really be watermarked as such because after I joined last week, it took approximately 30 minutes for the very small quotient of single male friends that my husband still maintains to e-mail him with screen shots of my page, (which uses a streamed profile photo from Facebook,) in an amused fury.
“They’re going to think we’re getting a divorce,” he argued upon forwarding the e-mails–addresses left undisclosed.
“But we’re not,” I explained as I continued to play with the dating app, swiping images of men to the left in discontent but never tapping at bottom right to denote interest. As the website explains, “It’s all anonymous until someone you like, likes you back.” I figured it best to keep my presence more or less phantom. Ultimately, it was only a meager 45 minutes before I resigned as a user, slightly unimpressed (albeit disappointed–not a single living soul expressed interest in me), and resumed my position as wife-without-peripheral-vision.
Now, I know what you’re thinking–but why did I join in the first place?
It’s simple, really. I suffer from a rather violent case of Fear of Missing Out and so when every conversation I would have took a turn for the inevitable question, “what do you think of Tinder?” I had no choice but to cultivate an educated, personal opinion. I couldn’t rely on the conceptions that were already running the gamut: “it is a disgusting popularity contest,” or, “it’s a sex-app. What is happening to humanity?” After all, the best regurgitated advice my dad has ever dispensed goes, “when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” And I am no ass, pal.
I also noticed that amid the flurry of estimations about the app, no one (including my husband’s friends, who have successfully maintained anonymity) would admit they were invested. Maybe that was because the general consensus was that Tinder was not unlike Grindr–which according to my knowledge, functions as a social bridge that connects gay daters with one another under pretenses that indicate a mutual interest in hooking up. But even if Tinder were “the straight version of Grindr,” more power to the female users, unapologetically invested in locating a good time, right?
But what if it wasn’t? In discovering the app on my own, I was mildly uncomfortable with the Face Smash (Mark Zuckerberg’s first official–albeit rudimentary–digital venture) meets Hot or Not nature of the way in which users are encouraged to rank one another. The comparison to “popularity contest” was somewhat accurate; you’re shown a photo of someone’s face and can choose to bookmark that photo and express interest in the person or swipe to the left in a gesture that feels eerily similar to the way in which you’d delete spam from your handheld device. It is only after two users express interest in one another that they are permitted to communicate on the private message board which, as far as I’m concerned, makes Tinder a more streamlined, digital version of meeting someone at a bar and going over to talk to them.
And what’s so wrong about that? Tinder is essentially a postmodern nod to a most primitive form of liberal dating. Before online dating or, well, Facebook would alter the way in which we communicated with members of the opposite (or same) sex, we were left to our own (for lack of a better word) devices to meet potential dalliances-and-hopefully-so-forth. When that was the case, isn’t the assumption that you’d approach or be approached by someone anonymous who piqued your interest based solely on the superficial circumstances of your appearance and/or body language?
I’ve heard disaster and success stories aplenty pertaining to the app but the way I see it, there’s something much larger at play with Tinder. Under the conditions of the current dating landscape, it seems almost every social app–Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram (which does not boast a private message board)–functions in some capacity as a potential dating app. How could they not? We live our lives online and nearly 47% of the adult population in the United States is single–that doesn’t even count the enormous percent clocking in at under 18-years-old. Tinder makes room for connections without having to worry that a deceiving Facebook picture, or suggestive tweet, or wrongly-filtered Instagram photo can put the kibosh on burgeoning love or convolute the experience off bat–even a married person can recognize that.
But why am I even talking about this, right?
Because, well, this is a symbiotic-ass relationship here and I commiserate with your failures and feed on your successes. If I’m this enthralled by an app that doesn’t even pertain to me, you must be at least somewhat curious, right? Which leads me to my closing question: are you even on Tinder? Tell. Me. Everything. Scintillating stories are so welcome.