(Just keep swiping left till your fingers bleed)
This is not meant as a hate outlet for dating applications or men, rather as a small opinion on how our digital age might just be all of ours romantic downfall. Yes, that’s truthful sarcasm?
The Tinder Effect
You know when girls say “I got on Tinder as a joke!” as their defense as to why they pop up on some random acquaintance or friends app? I am not one of those girls. I got on Tinder for the prospect of a random fling, date, and yes maybe because it was a joke. I got on Tinder for some good writing experience, for the amusement, and even for the small possibility that I might meet someone I wouldn’t be repulsed by getting a drink with.
And I will confess that I got on Tinder because I thought, as I assume most people do, that if someone relatively normal like me was on there, then maybe there would be other normal people who aren’t quite ready to be on Match.com but have forgone their frat party days.
For those of you who might have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, or I suppose for those of you who are happily married, Tinder is a dating (or hookup) app which is linked to your Facebook. Based on only pictures from your Facebook, as well as a small “about you” section, the application then gives you prospective single men or women in your area based on your sexual preference. If you swipe left they are gone forever. If you swipe right you have to wait to see if they swipe right as well. If you all both do, then you are matched in the Tinder universe and have the option of talking to each other on the app.
It’s ingenious, the idea, while at the same time being extremely superficial.
If you had asked me if I would have ever been on the app as a result of this superficial-ness, I would have said no. Sure, the app works almost the same way “real life” does, you wouldn’t talk to anyone in a bar you were not attracted to as much as you would not talk to them on the internet. My response however was that in meeting someone in real life, or a real dating site, you have the prospect of knowing more about the person than whether or not they are good at picking out attractive photos of themselves. You have looks but you also have a vibe, common interests, and chemistry.
But I got on the app anyway and I am glad I did because I was able to see that I was half wrong and half right. Point blank: Tinder is not for me. Not because I could not find some normal attractive people. But because almost all people on Tinder (at least men as that was my sexual preference) are living whether they know it or not in The Tinder Effect.
The Tinder Effect, not completely related to Tinder but that sounded so good I had to claim it as such, is the idea that most people do not actually want to ever meet up with the people that they talk to, because in a world of instant gratification, everyone is disposable. As a result we will never actually end up being with someone in this virtual world, because “someone else” is just around the corner.
Now I am not a sociologist with a ground breaking idea, just by googling The Tinder Effect you get a whole range of articles which talk about the sexualization of the app as well as how Tinder does not emulate the real dating world. I agree with both of these.
However what I lack in research I make up for in personal stories and research through friends, and am now able to expand on this ideas as well as others.
After getting on Tinder that first day, I was hooked to how mindless the act was. Really, it was as gratifying as eating popcorn while watching the Bachelorette. Guys flew across my screen faster than I could have a real opinion on them. I could run through almost twenty guys a minute if I didn’t want to see more than their profile picture, and often times I didn’t.
Because I decided to myself that if a man didn’t have a good photo of himself as his profile picture I did not like him because he was not attractive I did not like him because he was not smart enough to pick out a warped/filtered/photoshopped decent version of himself. Judgmental yes. But show me a person that is not.
At the end of about 400 people I swiped through I had said yes to maybe twenty people and matched with about thirteen or so. Yes, I realize how selective that is.
From this came, I will name him, “Mark.” I do this because his real first name alone is so distinctive that referring to him as that might be an invasion of his privacy. For those of you who do know his name, the rest of this article will be more humorous as a result.
Mark was, from his four pictures alone, exactly my type. Fair, played baseball, and charming even by his photos. Didn’t take much seriously, but had a good job which meant that at least he took his life seriously. Throughout talking to him extensively we got to the point of exchanging real numbers and I learned even more about him, which to make it all short was I have never met someone who had more in common with me while being simultaneously interesting.
We spent the next three weeks attempting to meet up, probably about seven different times. When finally our schedules would allow it, his reluctance to come up with a time and place, and his desire for me to go out of my way to meet him landed with me sending him a text that went something like “If you won’t make it a point to meet up with me now when you don’t even know me I would hate to see what happened when you did.” Granted that may sound a bit dramatic, but given the amount of times that he put himself out there and given the amount of times I recognized he was “playing the game” I definitely could have said a lot more.
Now there are those who would say that Tinder is merely a glorified social experiment in which people rack up as many people as they can talk to and as many people they can hook up with, and like everything in life they settle on what gives them the most satisfaction for the easiest price. And that the reason for my dismissal is just that there were potentially more suitable options for Mark. I argue this is not the case because of the Tinder Effect and because as I said before, personal experience. Although I definitely do believe they were probably way more suitable options because there are after all thousands of people in this city. Thousands of very attractive people.
Mark and I had FaceTimed for an hour and never met up because of the fantasy of what would happen had we not met up. In the world that we are a part of right now, the possibility of things that might happen is always greater than what actually will happen. No one wants to “put themselves out there” because rejection and dismissal only comes as a result of putting your feelings and personhood on the table. Therefor if you never meet someone you can never not really get along. And if you never meet someone then in an alternate reality you could have had great times and great sex.
Tinder also reinforces the idea of instant gratification because it operates the same way our current generation gets off. If every like in the Facebook world or every retweet in the Twitter one mirrored the Tinder one, then every match on Tinder elevates a person’s importance. It tells them that they are attractive, they are liked, and that they are worth something. Equally if they do not get matched with someone they were legitimately interested in “there are other fish in the sea” holds supremely true. As this would be the mantra to this app if there ever was one.
While this statement has been made as a tool to help those recovering from painful breakups, in the world of Tinder this is used to dismiss people as potential valid options for romantic or hookup partners. Let this be known that this is not a good thing. This is not to say that most people should not move onto other people but rather that Tinder and those who use it, sweep through people because there will always be someone better one hundred people from now. Even if they do start speaking to people, speaking to people is only something to do and less than someone to do. Yes, I went for it there.
Case in point was a friend of mine who I really enjoy grabbing lunch with. Over an appetizer we discussed a girl that he had met at a party years ago in college. He has been on and off texting her as she lives an hour from Austin. He has no problem saying how nice, cool, and attractive he finds her. He also has no problem admitting that he is just texting her to text her because “why not. It’s something to do.” His plans to meet up with her are blurry at best, but he is ok with that for the moment because whenever he questions why he is not pursuing something, an app ready to give him (and us) a reason not to is on his phone. This is a narrative I hear from others constantly.
This is a problem not just applicable to people in their early 20’s unready to settle down. And before I go on this tangent, I am not saying that Tinder in itself is some new age downfall of the romantic world. But it does represent a different romantic world. It represents a world in which no one is actually able to work for any relationship they want or even are vaguely thinking of pursuing because it might be too complicated, too much drama, or my favorite – too much time.
If the world of Tinder was the actual world then no one would ever have arguments or ever get over their arguments, they would simply walk away from relationships and marriages. While that may seem a little too extreme, the point is that the Tinder world can and does translate over to the non-digital world.
I myself have fallen victim to this as the question of asking myself why I would bother trying to make something work with someone so unimportant to my life comes up frequently (by the way, this is for everyone that I have matched with who just said something to me which didn’t quite sit well.) Other than being ironic because I actually feel my problem is caring too much about past relationships, there is very telling of how Tinder never quite manages to make it work, because it can never be actually what it was supposed to be.
It manages to let people believe that just because someone is wearing a Yankees cap that they must like every misguided main stream thing in this world (and that they must also be really cool with no salary caps but this comes second.) It also makes people believe that if that person is kayaking in one photo, lifting in the next, and at the beach in the third they might be that “go to the gym every day type.” And really who wants to deal with that.
As I stated before this can apply to all online dating, but in Tinder the judgment is fast and simple which would be fine if it was really was a hook up app. But most on it are shady at best about their intentions and just want a list of people for validation, if they can manage to get that list after brushing people off for irrelevant reasons. And these people, like me, are willing to work for almost nothing in the beginning so why would they ever work on it in the end?
If you think I am being nonsensical, mull over this. In talking to one of my other very good friends, the topic of the “ideal dating world” came about. This man, who frequently gets hit on just by every sex, simply stated “If we lived in a world where everyone said what they wanted that would happen, no mislead people, but no one does that, just face it.”
He’s probably right, and he is probably right because of the time frame that we will live in along with the digital company we live in. If I can have my cake and eat it too, why not?
At the end of the conversation, fueled on by alcohol I am sure, he told me to text Mark if I wanted to. I figured why not throw an apology out into the world, expecting nothing in return. I sent a few words how I did not mean to be so aggressive but surprisingly he was one of the only guys that I had really liked in a while and I was upset because I felt like we live in a time where everyone just, point blank, plays games.
Four days later I get a text back with a thanks and an alien emoji.