A few words on Tinder
There I was in a place that I feel very comfortable. The airport. Waiting to board a plane with my best friend Mel. We were headed to Long beach to celebrate my 23rd birthday with my family. I had booked this trip a few months ago knowing that I would want to get out of town for my birthday rather than stay in the city doing my usual.
Still having two days as a. 22 year old l I had extreme opinions on things. Straight or gay, graduated or drop out. Not much in between. Everything had to be black and white.
My current relationship was with a boy who I thought saw things as black and white as I did. We were together exclusively and spent a lot of time together in bed playing with thoughts of the future. Things seemed to be going really well this time around. We had been studying italian together for a few weeks and would toss up dreams of continuing our studies abroad in Italy together.
If we were in Sex and the City he would be the “we guy”.
So, again, there I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair with my stomach full of airport food waiting to board my flight. Mel who was freshly single had been scrolling through men on what will soon be the most infamous application to rule my generation: Tinder.
Tinder, to me, had always been a site where fuckboys went to hook up with desperate ugly girls with no self esteem. Turns out this theory isn’t exactly true. However the consensus of society shows Tinder is a place to meet people when you are single.
As we are waiting to board the plane, last as always Mel lets out a laugh “Oh my god dude”. What happened next will forever be one of those moments burned clearly into my head. There he was my boyfriend. His first and last name listed under a profile picture from his Facebook that I didn’t recognize. It listed his height and age and that he was living in San Francisco. The sucker punch was when under all that it said: active 15 minutes ago. I guess Tinder wants you to know how fast you can actually hook up with someone.
So I did what any reasonable 22 year old millennial would do. I sent him a snapchat of Mel’s phone with three meaningful letters : “WTF” he types: “What’s that?” At this point I am seeing red and they are calling final boarding on the plane. After serious denial that the profile was his admitted that he had had a Tinder for awhile and he activated it every now and then. The reason why he never stated but I’ll let the reader judge him. I ended the relationship and got on the plane.
Now this is as much of a story about my heartbreak from my lying boyfriend as much as it is about the new phenomenon that I am just starting to understand. Can dating online be genuine?
Being an individual who mocks social media and values traditionalism and romance the concept of online dating was as blasphemous as having three wives. Something that I certainly would never do. Why would I? I was pretty, smart, funny and I was constantly meeting people IRL.
In an effort to better understand my heartbreak. I downloaded Tinder. Of course it was horrifying. The profiles, the words people used to describe themselves. It was gross. After being. traumatized I deleted the app. And redownloaded it. Twice.
In Tinder you are only allowed to swipe left so many times before they freeze you. It’s like they are trying to. tell you to stop being so choosey and give these guys a chance . So frozen with nowhere to go and I landed on a guy named Kyle. You couldn’t really tell what he looked like from the first picture so I tapped further. He had a man bun was 26 and a. bartender. He wrote on his profile: “if you want to be disappointed ask me about my muffin joke” Thinking to myself. “what the hell? This could be totally disgusting sexual joke or a terrible joke that isn’t funny” Either way I swiped right. Ta da it’s a match. Note* I have heard that men always swipe right to see who will swipe right for them too.
I asked to hear the joke in a message. I didn’t introduce myself I didn’t bat my lashes. Nothing that would have happened upon first introduction in the real world. But he responded with the joke. It was bad but not sexual but then the conversation went further.
“Why do you need a joke?” he asked
“I just needed a laugh,” I responded.
Looking back at this conversation it is so cliche it makes me want to vomit.
“Let me guess are you new to Tinder,” he continued.
“Yes what gave me away?” I wrote back. Even though it was so obvious that I was new to Tinder. Here I was on a Friday night asking a man-bun stranger to tell me a joke. Losing your Tinder virginity is just as confusing and uncomfortable as it is in real life.
“Let me guess, bad break up?” he inquired.
If we were in a bar and I had a few drinks in me this line would have either worked if said correctly or I would have spit in his face from laughing so hard. In the face to face world, tone means everything. And here was an application getting away with being tone-deaf.
Weighing the two ways to read this conversation and deciding that I didn’t care either way I told im that he was right. Since I knew that I would be deleting this conversation, application and his man bun all together I saw no harm in inquiring further. I mean he was my “first”.
I asked him what this shit was all about. I told him what happened between me and my ex boyfriend. Although he told me that my situation was fucked up (thank you) he said Tinder wasn’t all bad.
But first talked about the bad.
He told me that Tinder is about 70% of fuckboys went to hook up with desperate ugly girls with no self esteem. But he said it was worse. He said there was this whole subculture of girls who crave emotionally abusive boys who talk down to them. To me this reads like porn. Hardcore stuff. I started to wonder about his muffin joke a little more. But alas our conversation continued.
He said he had been single for five months after discovering his girlfriend was cheating on him. He said that he had met some really cool people and that Tinder had no rules. He said it could be whatever I wanted it to be.
So I started flipping through profiles again and the looks of these fuckboys started to get soft on me. I read some of the profiles. Some of the guys who said they were “a nice guy” looking for a “nice girl” looked like they really were nice guys. I really did. It looked like a lot of them had been hurt before and were recovering the same way I was. I felt so much empathy with them. My heart got filled up and then the guilt of ignorance exploded out of my chest.
What was so wrong with having a Tinder? It read like Facebook or Instagram. You put a picture and some facts about yourself and you let the cyber world do the rest. Apart from the name and logo what are the real differences between social media apps?
I know many are going to read this and say it’s an app for hook ups and it is different. But really to what degree is it different? If we were in an age without this stuff there would still be temptation. There would still be cheaters and fake monogamy. If I thought all this stuff was bullshit why was I so hurt about finding out my boyfriend had one?
For me I think the real crime is the physical work that these apps are. taking out of life. We can talk about Postmates some other day. Now instead of having to be with someone for a few months to start to admire a personality trait or begin to love a certain angle of their face you can see all sides before meeting them. You can zoom in on it. You can ask really dangerous questions behind a glass screen. You can literally feel nothing, and everything, and tell someone either one and the truth will only be known by you.
Now that I am older wiser 23 year old I have changed my black and white opinions. I will say a lot of matter-of-facts but I am not going to say that if you have a Tinder it makes you a fuckboy or a desperate ugly girl with no self esteem. I am going to say that in a world of cyber-self Tinder is just another platform of identity.
In fact two of my closest friends are in happy fulfilling relationships with men they met online. And they are far from desperate. They are pretty, intelligent and wonderful.
Even though it was the straw that broke my relationship I don’t blame Tinder. All relationships start and stop with honesty. Fidelity, virginity, and relationship status can be objective but honesty will always be. the hardest thing to keep up. If you do not have that in a relationship you truly have nothing.