Tinder: A Review

So I use “Tinder”. And Tinder is an app that has a completely contextual experience. Meaning, if one is using the app looking for hookups, and is able to find hookups using the app, one has a largely positive experience with Tinder, and vice versa in the opposite situation. I do not use Tinder in this manner; instead, I use Tinder as a medium for education, and I truly believe this is the intended purpose of Tinder.

Tinder is an acceptable app. The aggressive, heavy-handed aura with which it carries itself and its mission is spectacularly dichotomized by the sterile aesthetic with which it is designed. The counter-balance of these two elements, while confusing, strike intrigue in the heart of the user. “What brave new frontiers of society can I explore?” the typical user internally ponders. “Will I be able to make some extraordinary encounter with many beautiful souls, complementary to mine?” the user delightedly ruminates as they begin the process of “swiping” past stranger after stranger. Some are accepted, and swiped “right” in approval (mutual approval creating a “match”), or “left” in rejection; a pair of acts so beautifully simple and mindless that they should be implemented in every other facet of life to maximize automation and efficiency. (Imagine; McDonalds: “Sir would you like to SuperSize that order?” *Swipes right, instantly*, or, Boss: “Will you be sure that you finish that analytics report by this afternoon?” *Swipes left* Boss: “Rejected? Why?” *Swipes left* Boss: “You can’t reject this entire conversation!” *Swipes left, goes home for the day*). So, the architecture and design of Tinder make it a perfectly mediocre, if not slightly enjoyable, experience.

Where Tinder excels is in the ability to expand one’s network. Want new people to whom you intend to sell a product, and think that Instagram and Twitter are ineffective? Tinder has you covered. Tired of sleeping with your friends and their friends, and unconcerned with your sexual health? Tinder has you covered. Tired of your friends telling you that your statement is overwhlemingly incorrect, and want a new group of people to dispel this vitriol upon? Tinder has you covered, my dear friend.

Allow me to give you an example of the latter situation. Earlier today I “matched” with “Monique”, a woman two years my junior and a student. Monique took it upon herself to initiate a conversation, a commendable act considering the circumstances of our new acquaintanceship. The speed with which I lost any admiration for Monique’s act of valor after opening that message is, at present, indescribable. Multiple hours later, I still lack any frame of reference for it, and the subsequent terminology to detail even my astonishment in that moment. The message that Monique sent to me, which would forever be her one and only First Impression was: “Hello”. Now, my shock was not in reference to inappropriately receiving a formal greeting in a highly informal social situation. My indignation was rather a result of receiving what can only be called an insult to social decorum. In a situation where one is exchanging social pleasantries in the hopes of forming some sort of “romantic” connection, one is reasonably expected to exert some effort and energy in order to make a lasting impression. That is the outstanding, general social expectation. When one fails to do this, one is most often ignored, and left to fade into the obscurity of the indescribable masses.

Now, in the aforementioned scenario, I could very easily have allowed myself to ignore Monique’s deplorable attempt to start a conversation. The insult and shock of receiving such a bland, forgettable greeting would have soon been forgotten indeed. However, doing so would be untrue to the reasoning with which I created a Tinder account in the first place. Monique could not fail to have this moment, this tragic moment, be a #TeachingMoment. Monique, as an adult, needed to know why this particular attempt to connect with a stranger failed, in order to grow as a member of society, and ultimately gain the ability to connect with strangers. So, I promptly replied to Monique, by stating that her attempt to communicate was insulting, at best. I emphasized the point by having Monique envision herself in my shoes at that moment, receiving a completely forgettable and generic conversation starter from a stranger, and the impression it would make on her. Would merely saying “hello”, I asked Monique, present the receiver of the message with any ability to distinguish the sender from the rest of society? After having Monique ponder this point, I emphasized to her that the greeting “hello” was left merely as a greeting; a social nicety to exchange in passing. I left Monique with the advice that she would, in the future, be best served by breaking the proverbial ice with a unique message, one that offers a foray into her inimitable character.

The interaction with “Monique” is but one of the many #TeachingMoments I have encountered on Tinder. Many have been similar; lessons on social expectations, and one’s presentation to the world. Many are focused on “Fun Facts”; tidbits of information that I believe more members of the general public should be privy to. Many interactions are multifaceted, with #TeachingMoments in social customs, general knowledge, and interesting trivia. In one instance, I was able to impart on a man important information on social customs, sexual health, and first impressions. (Long story, but basically my then-girlfriend and I had a competition to see who could match more people on Tinder, and then some guy started messaging her, to which I responded with relevant trivia and knowledge, at her behest, and then the guy just degraded into sending sexually graphic photographs of himself, also known as “dick pics”).

Because Tinder allows one to reach out to the community in which one resides, and drop new information upon its constituency [some of which is actually quite vital, like when to and when not to send dick pics (hint, it’s a huge never for unsolicited dick pics to a stranger)] Tinder is actually a very useful tool. It even allows for users (for a premium fee) to impart wisdom on individuals outside of their immediate community! Tinder should be utilized by politicians attempting to impart wisdom about their policy initiatives on an unengaged demographic of voters. Were Tinder utilized more often as a tool for education, it would most assuredly receive a score of 10 stars out of a possible 10 stars. It would be an essential app, like the calculator or flashlight, used equally by all. However, because Tinder is most often used to educate others about one’s tool (i.e. via dick pics) and as a catalyst for degrading the integrity of all users’ social proficiency, it is a decidedly non-essential app. Tinder is more akin to the “Tips” app in iOS (something equally pointless in Android, too) and is unabashedly stuck as merely being “acceptable”. For this, Tinder receives a decisively lukewarm 4.9/10 stars*, despite the delightfully confounding nature of its design elements’ dichotomous relationship, and its (largely) untapped potential.

*Disclaimer: This score is in absolutely no way affected by my own personal experiences/failures at using Tinder as a dating/hookup app. It is also, most unequivocally, not affected by my own distaste for having received and viewed unsolicited dick pics through (inappropriate?) use of the app.

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