Both times I’ve shut down my Tinder, I always wondered about the lives I had infiltrated. There was one guy in particular — a gun-loving former US soldier who, moments before I pressed the delete button, had asked if I wanted to go get coffee. Seeing as how this request had been preceded by lamentations over the three dozen women who had refused to give him a chance, I was both relieved to remove myself from this atmosphere of desperation and panicked at the thought of running into him and his wartime souvenirs.
While I’ve only ever met up with one person from the app, and for friendship nonetheless, its potential is certainly not something I could rule out completely. Especially when there are success stories.
My friend Becca* was one of the luckier ones. After downloading the app in the hope of scoring some scandalous rendezvous, she happened to come across Tim*, whom she thought was pretty good-looking and had an impressive bio. “He liked the same crappy movies, and when we started talking it didn’t feel stilted at all.” Whilst they have their differences – Tim can’t abide Becca’s Stephen King obsession, for one – they are still going strong, seven months on. With 30 kilometres apart and no mutual friends between them, they may have never found each other otherwise. Ain’t (assisted) love grand?
Every fluke though comes with a shit-tonne of misses. Most people I talk to find Tinder’s focus on appearances is simplistic, superficial and a threat to longevity. Oh, the hassle of scheduling a virtually blind date because you have no idea how to reproduce that perfectly posed profile pic! Perhaps a dimly lit venue will soften the blow.
Some would argue that a genuine attraction to physical attributes is vital to relationship success – that it’s simply biology. Really, everything is about pandering to what you think is the ideal. So for some, this means filtered smiles, snazzy borders and endless visual proof of adventures abroad.
If I were to share my own critique: Boys, the puppy-toting-action-hero-in-a-wife beater look is growing old. While the only female experiences I’ve had on Tinder have been vicarious, there seems to be a polarising blend of the pseudo hyper-intellectual and the doe-eyed, come-hither crowd. I wonder, what would happen if we just shared pictures of us in our natural habitats and listed our interests without referring to ourselves in the third person?
Maybe Tinder teaches us a thing or two about being slighted. If you are continuously exposed to this notion of seamlessly reciprocal love, as the entire rom-com genre can ensure, this can manifest itself in the Nice Guy/Girl trope, where we’re dealing with rejection as the other person’s fault. Life is not a vending machine, folks. You can’t slot in your pangs of lust and expect to be paid out every single time. Such a huge part of the Tinder experience is the potential rejection, which could be beneficial in altering how we react to being spurned offline. Tinder’s ephemeral nature discourages the need to dwell on failed romantic ventures.
For the naysayers who want to preserve the sanctity of romance in all its forms: well, if casual sex is indeed what someone wants, that’s really their own affair. Perhaps this could be detrimental to society’s treatment of the concept of love, but in this case I don’t think Tinder should be the first in the firing line. There are more pressing matters in modern-day romance, such as the media’s objectification of the human form, and the unwavering emphasis on sexual performance over connection.
Perhaps Tinder proves that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in dating, and that even by using a shortcut like an app, success ultimately relies on being within the vicinity of someone on the same page. Tinder is merely paving the way for either a more evolved, or lazy, generation of lovers, which I suppose are one and the same, if you think about it. It’s not for everyone, but that’s what’s so great about 21st century romance – the sheer variety of options to choose from.
At the end of the day, Tinder wants you to “keep playing”. Dating’s a game. If you’re not on the winning side, it can be quite demoralising. But like any other method of finding “The One”, this is a risk you should be willing to take. Otherwise, the fleeting ego boost isn’t too shabby.
*Names have been changed to protect the lovelorn