For those playing at home (read: cynics, people in relationships, those without a smart phone, those living under a rock) tinder is an app that matches you with people of your preferred gender in a radius (2-162kms) you select. You will be presented with a photo(s), a first name, any mutual friends, any bio they wish to provide and the option to swipe them left (rejecting them) or right (expressing your interest or ‘liking’ them). You cannot move on to the next profile until you left or right swipe the current profile on your screen. If you both ‘right swipe’, tinder will alert you and you will have the option to chat to them, iMessage style, within the app.
Stage One: Curiosity
It’s Thursday night and you’re in Knightsbridge/Dumpling House/the bathrooms at Moose and someone has just told you that their ex-boyfriend’s friend’s housemate just got into a relationship with someone they met on Tinder. Cue the snorts of derision, cue the sarcasm about the expiry date, cue the witticisms about desperation. Cue the curiosity.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard about this ‘tinder’ contraption. Is this what the kids are doing these days? Makes you feel old. Makes you feel superior, actually, that you have never stooped to the level of ‘app dating’. Glorious you, that has had so many dates in the past few…oh wait. You haven’t. As a matter of fact, you were just complaining the other day about the lack of talent in your tutes/college/mixed netball team. It may take you a while, but you’ll get there- either alone, with your finger hovering hesitantly over the ‘install’ button on the App Store, or surrounded by a yelling crowd of your peer pressuring mates who are just as curious as you, but secretly glad they’re not the first ones to get it.
You have downloaded Tinder.
Stage Two: Validation
The thrill of your first tinder ‘match’, the blurry grey screen that halts all swiping, that proves, triumphantly, that someone wants into your pants, is pure and simple validation.
For people like me, who don’t want to hang around until they turn the lights on at Meche to illuminate my choices of who I might share a bed with that night, tinder gets down to the nitty gritty business of attraction. Tinder lets you be fun and single, without the hassle of actually putting in effort; just select your most flattering photos from facebook, insert some witty banter about your personality, and go. The best thing about tinder is being able to browse for a potential date for Friday night on Monday night when you’re lying pyjama clad on your bed and your other hand is busy stuffing cereal into your mouth from the box. Which is probably what my tombstone will read when one of my numerous cats suffocates me at the tender age of 50.
Most people’s issue with tinder is that it fuels society’s obsession with image and they’re exactly right, tinder is as shallow as most students pockets, however, I compare it with catching someone’s eye across a crowded room. Someone doesn’t cross the room in a noisy bar and introduce themselves because they can tell that you volunteered with orphans in Siberia. They aren’t inextricably drawn to your ‘aura of compassion’ and they can’t see your impressive extra curriculars through that shirt. They like your face, your smile, maybe your body.
‘We latched eyes across a mutual friend’s house party’ is romantic. ‘We met on Tinder’ is not, but boy do those matches make you feel attractive.
Stage Three: Over Confidence
“Oh hey there, ‘John’. Ten mutual friends? What a guy. First picture is of you backpacking somewhere in Asia? Adventure is my middle name. Second photo is you and a mate? Great, invite him along. Third photo is…a gym selfie. Move along, pleb. Left swipe.”
It will get to a point, probably around 30 or so matches, that you will develop the sense that you are one sexy, sexy motherfucker and really, shame on you for being so liberal with your right swipes. Hi- viz shirt? Left swipe. Dorky grin with thumbs up? Left swipe. Photo with a scantily clad girl? Left swipe. It’s at this point that you’ll become as selective as the DFAT Grad program, throwing away potential matches not for their lack of genuine potential, but because they chose to put up a photo of them shirtless at a festival. Shame on you, John.
Stage Four: Addiction
You find yourself explaining on a daily basis, how ‘not weird’ tinder is. You start urging your single friends to try it ‘just for a day’ and then attempt to peer pressure those around you into downloading it by bragging about the six packs of your matches. You explain how tinder is for the ‘modern girl’, how it will definitely appear on the next season of Girls and that if Sex and the City was being made now, Carrie would definitely be on it.
You find yourself checking your matches twice, three times, five times daily and you’re dismayed when you consistently hit the ‘There are no new matches in your area’ screen. You actually try and message all your matches. You begin to respond to messages like “Hey sexy, wanna sit on my face?” and become offended when anyone mentions ‘tinder’ and ‘sad’ in the same sentence.
Stage Five: Boredom
As quickly as this new toy enters your world, it leaves. After chatting to tens of matches, you realise that while these guys are cool and hey, some are awesome in person, the chances that your newest tinder match is your newest significant other are unfortunately slim. Mostly, this comes down to difference in expectations -“Why are you on tinder if you’re not DTF?”– or perhaps you meet someone on tinder and embark on a new relationship, but I can guarantee that there will come a time when the fire starts to die out. You might flick through once a week when you’re waiting for someone at coffee and need to seem busy, but you’ll never invest yourself as heavily again.
Tinder will be there to validate you when that person at the bar who you had your sights on doesn’t approach you, or when you’re feeling a little single or bored on a Monday night, but ultimately, tinder is a game, and games get old.
Even games with six packs and a nice smile.