Too fat, too bald, too short, too old…
…And so it continues. Welcome to Tinder: the dating app that requires users to swipe left (no, thanks) or right (yes, please.) Though possible ‘matches’ are based on mutual interests, friends and location, the user’s picture is the main focus of the page. As a consequence, judgements are made primarily on appearance. Indeed, one poorly-angled selfie could be all that stands in the way of true love.
According to the app’s website, “Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.” Having spent two weeks on Tinder, I can testify that none of these bold claims are true.
For a start, I met nobody from Tinder. That’s not to say I didn’t get offers (I’m not being boastful…men on Tinder all seem really, really keen.) But keen for what..? A companion? A girlfriend? A soul mate? Perhaps. If so, the majority show unusually little interest in their future spouse’s passions and aspirations. Some were, however, interested in seeing pictures of their prospective sweetheart in cheerleader outfits. Requests such as these are why I was not overly enthusiastic about meeting the people behind the screens.
Secondly, Tinder is not like real life. Imagine a world in which we actively avoided people who were not ‘aesthetically-pleasing.’ True, we may ignore the dribbling old man trying to catch our eye in the bus station. But if it was commonplace to avoid every person who couldn’t grace the cover of Vogue, the world would be a much sadder place. Indeed, I would never have spoken to the kind old lady with the hairy upper lip who frequents my bus stop. Nor would I have heard the stories of an amputee I once served at work. In fact, if being really, really, really ridiculously good looking was the route to acceptance, even my charming demeanour and immense wit would not compensate for my less-than-supermodel appearance. So I am thankful that most people, in reality, can look beyond appearance alone. And for those that can’t, it’s a shame there’s no ‘swipe left’ button.
Finally, as you may suspect, Tinder is definitely not better than real life. During my two weeks of judging, swiping and chatting, I never felt a ‘connection’ with anyone. This led me to conclude that finding somebody you like cannot be achieved by a judgement based upon looks and geographical location (the two most significant Tinder criteria.) Sometimes the most successful matches are forged from the most unlikely of pairings. Therefore, I decided to trust my abilities as a living, breathing human being to talk to other living, breathing human beings. It’s sometimes surprising what can be found by looking up from a screen.
To conclude…5 useful things I learnt from a fortnight on Tinder:
1) “What turns you on?” is not the opening sentence to a fruitful relationship.
2) Roughly 78% of men on Tinder claim to be lawyers with a passion for skiing. Statistically, this is improbable.
3) If somebody offers you a trip to the Caribbean, think about what they might want in return. Just as a friendly Zimbabwean banker may offer 5000 ZWD in return for a few little bank details, some things are too good to be true.
4) The ‘Moments’ feature on Tinder (allowing matches to share images with each other) is rarely used to post pictures of puppies.
5) Despite its success stories, Tinder is no match for genuine communication. Especially when every single conversation seems to begin: “Hey ;)”