Disclaimer: Not for Friends
We all know that there are certain social norms to be followed in our daily lives. They are especially apparent in the ever-expanding realm of technology, the internet, and social media. For example, you wouldn't text someone who you haven’t talked to in five or more years just to ask how they are doing because doing so is almost completely random. You would most likely have a specific reason to reconnect with them. They would otherwise wonder, “why is this person talking to me — we’re not even friends anymore?” However, that is exactly the point of this project — to break a social norm that is generally followed by our society today. I chose to experiment with the iPhone app “Tinder” and document the responses of my “matches.” Essentially, the point of Tinder is to match with someone who you find attractive and “hook up with them” or show interest in a possible relationship. I went against this norm by revealing to them that I was not interested in hooking up because I either had a significant other, just wanted to make friends, or tried to scare them off by being a complete weirdo. The results were quite interesting and albeit, surprising.
Here is my Tinder profile. I said that I am looking for males from no particular distance and no particular age.
I don’t have a significant other so I tried to put pictures that I thought would attract any kind of person and also show that I have a lot of friends. This way when I flipped the switch I could defend myself if necessary.
I first began doing and saying things similar to what Ryan did. I swiped right all the time — didn't even look at the person or their name — until I felt I had a sufficient amount of people that I could mess around with. I matched with about a hundred people and chose to converse with eight of them because those eight were the most responsive and active. A few messaged me first and I initiated conversation with the others. I acted like a happy normal girl looking for love on Tinder — but didn't want to seem overly into it because then it wouldn't make sense when I dropped the bomb about having a boyfriend or even a girlfriend. I am currently unattached so I thought I’d have some fun and really get people thinking. I do not have a boyfriend or a girlfriend in real life and I am straight, however no one on Tinder needs to know that. The length of the conversations depended on how frequently or how quickly the match would respond, so they went on from anywhere in between a few hours to two or three days.
Then I thought it might be fun to make things a little more interesting. After coaxing a few of my matches in I would flip the switch and take on a completely different personality then I had already led them on to believe. Obviously I started out with claiming I had a boyfriend and just wanted to make friends on the app. I got some interesting and surprising responses from that. I thought more people would be angry but they weren't. Then I decided for a few I would play two truths and a lie and make it known that I was a serial killer from the game. Most of those matches either didn't respond at all or were so creeped out that the person would un-match me. Another thing I did some times was make outrageous claims when asked how I was. I would either give them a whole life story and all the drama going on in my life or say something completely ridiculous like “I just finished slaughtering some hogs.” Some were nice when I said I really needed help while others weren't even phased and asked me if I was a butcher to make a living. And the final personality that I took on was the desperate girl who scares people away.
This match sort of went with the flow and tried to pretend it didn’t phase him. I asked if he wanted me to set him up with a friend and he wasn’t jumping at the opportunity but also wan’t opposed to it either. He definitely thought I was a strange person. After he asked how to reach her I had to come out with the truth because I couldn’t give him her number without her permission.
This guy honestly could not take a hint. I pretended to have a girlfriend in this scenario and he tried to convince me that she could join in the fun. After I kept refusing he said I “didn’t seem too nice anyway” and that I “didn’t seem real.”
This match was pretty open minded and actually suggested bringing my “boyfriend” to the bar with me to meet him and his friend. He also ended up messaging the next morning as well which I thought was strange. Perhaps he was on Tinder to meet new people as well — he did mention that he was visiting Philly on spring break so that could be why.
He was actually really nice and explained to me what his idea of Tinder was and that he thought most people view it in the same manner. He gave me some advice and said I probably should not be on Tinder if I have a boyfriend.
#5 explained what Tinder was to me and that he also did not want to get my into trouble with my “boyfriend.”
Subjects 6, 7, & 8
I played two truths and a lie with #6 and pretended to have murdered my ex…he never responded after my last message.
Surprisingly, #7 was actually okay with the idea of friendship.
#8 did not seem to be too distracted when I told him I was slaughtering hogs and just being weird in general.
Tinder is used for people to “hook up” based on whether or not you think someone is attractive — that is the norm. You are supposed to swipe right with the intention of starting conversation with someone who you are hoping to make a connection with and either go on a date or simply “hook up” for fun. It is solely based on looks to begin with. People also only put so much information on their profile descriptions, so you really can’t know anything substantial about them unless there is a mutual attraction and one of you decide to strike up a conversation. You can’t even contact someone who you think you might like unless they swipe right on your profile also. Only the most basic and essential information (at least considering the purpose of the app is typically for sexual reasons) is available on someone’s profile — name, age, and how far away or close they currently are located in relation to your whereabouts. This would explain the reactions of my matches whether they were surprised, irritated, or confused. Most people download the Tinder app for the purpose of finding someone to either “hook up” with or start a possible relationship with. Yes, some people do it for fun to mess around with people and as a joke but the majority of people are looking for more than just friendship. A couple people told me what they believed Tinder was generally used for but another said he was new to the app and wasn't quite sure how to use it. However I think for the most part Tinder is used by people between the ages of eighteen to approximately thirty five. So people who I matched with that were above this age, like that guy, weren't sure how to use the app because (hopefully) they are past the “hook up” stage of their lives. Doing this experiment has sort of made online social norms comical to me but has also showed me how much they do in fact exist. We don’t, as a society, even realize how prevalent they are and how we subconsciously follow them in order to avoid making a scene on the web. The reason I find it sort of funny is because as much as we think it does, it really doesn't matter if we show our true colors online — at least as long as it doesn't put ourselves in danger. But honestly, why not make a fool of ourselves online? Why are we so scared to let people see what we are thinking, how we are feeling, or what we are doing with our lives? Is it really that bad for people to know about us what we allow them to? Does it really matter if I pretend to be something I’m not on Tinder…what are they going to do about it? All I have to do is “unmatch” them or stop talking to them because their opinion of me doesn't make a difference of how I view myself. I think breaking social norms is fun and should be done more often without fear or scrutiny and judgement. Obviously this is easier said than done but I think we should try to change the norms of invisibility and being silent online — over share, be creepy, and confuse people if you want because it challenges them to do the same and step out of their own comfort zone. However, make sure to be aware of putting people in danger or hurting them when doing so but don’t be afraid to push the envelope.