How Tinder Is Making Everyone Horrible At Dating

Disclaimer: The screenshots are from the blog http://tinderlines.tumblr.com. However, some of the screenshots are personal accounts.

If you’re living in a city, online dating, and the app Tinder especially, are the most inefficient ways to meet someone you’re interested in.

March of 2014 I’d already spent years on traditional dating sites, and months using the new app Tinder. I wasn’t getting any dates on Tinder. I’ve felt this before: At twenty-one, I’d faced zero success at bars save for a few random drunken summer hookups. For the record, I’m not going to count those.

My frustration with Tinder resulted from the disconnect between my now happy experiences with women in real life and my utter rejection via iPad.

I call myself a social development coach, but in reality, I’m just a guy who spends most of his time figuring out how to not pee his pants around women. Tinder was my current enigma. I spent that entire month of March, all of my free time, experimenting with this evil little app.

A month later I’d hacked the damn app and knew I had something men would want to hear about. I hate cheesy products, but every now and then I get a change of heart and want to experiment with conventions which I formerly held contempt.

Though, there was something dark about my seemed success on the other side of the Tinder fence. I felt blue. Despite the dates with cute women, I was depressed. My self-esteem had dropped. As many dates as I was going on, they all fell flat. No chemistry. And I wasn’t having fun amid this success. I simply learned to hack a new platform. I felt empty. Empirically, I am liked by almost no one using online dating. 99% of my efforts would result in women ignoring me.

Using Tinder is like entering an alternate reality. Attraction happens differently there. A person’s aesthetic interests change based on context. This is a technological phenomenon. First, you look different in pictures than you do in real life. Your facial expressions and gestures alter the perception of you compared to your still image. Charisma makes you look more attractive. Second, what a man and woman are attracted to in real life will be different than online. Where a woman would find a beefcake more attractive on Tinder, your own uncommonly attractive features may be what turns her on during an actual date.

Relate this to a model in a magazine. In pictures, she seems to be the object of perfection. But in person, you might find these perfect features to be exaggerated. Models simply do not look the same up close. Not bad or worse, just different.

Not only are aesthetic perceptions skewed on Tinder, so are your social skills. The same conversation you’d have in-person with a woman at a bar can seem creepy on Tinder. Context is often lost through text because of all the subtle expressions going along with your words when you speak.

But I didn’t realize this at first. My objective reality shifted when immersing myself exclusively into online dating. My self-esteem plummeted. The perception I had of myself on Tinder began to erode my real-life social skills. I began to believe I was a Quasimodo. The result? I’d interact with people, especially women, less. I instead spent all that time swiping right or left. All of the time I used to use meeting people at bars and parks and bookstores were now spent in my apartment staring at a rectangular light of red and white. And my Tinder dates, the entire reason I was using the app in the first place, would be gutted of any charm.

Alternate to my plummeting self-confidence, the overwhelming amount of attention women receive on dating sites whether creepy or classy are nevertheless unhealthily amping up their egos to the point where they eventually stop considering a date from an actual eligible suitor and opt for simply one-upping their current matches for something better.

Why were all of my Tinder dates ending flaccid? Because I think online dating is the new blind dating. You don’t really know who you’re about to meet, and all that mystery builds serious anxiety.

True chemistry is something special. It’s found unexpectedly and happens unusually. Humans have found ways to naturally make up for this randomness. There are bars and cities and countries and cultures and shops with strokes for all different kinds of folks. In New York, Hipsters and artists hang in Bushwick. If you want to meet a sorority girl, hang out in Murray Hill. If you’ve ever pumped your fist before, there’s a 70% chance you live in Hoboken. It gets deeper. At a bar, our natural intuition pulls us towards the ones we’d probably end up hitting it off with. When we’re packed in a room together, it doesn’t take long to find who you mesh well with.

But with online dating, you are stripped of that intuition, save for a profile with more bravado than truth, and pictures that, c’mon, you know are flawlessly taken at that perfect angle.

The actual point of a date is for two people who already know they have chemistry with each other to share that chemistry through an activity. That’s a nice time. Dinner is funner with someone you like hanging with. The produce aisle becomes a bowling alley. But with someone you’ve never met before? The fruit is just fruit at a grocery. And this forces us to create chemistry when it shouldn’t be there. Because we hate the stink of awkward conversation and worse, silence, we begin to contrive a sense of fun. This phenomenon results in anxiety beforehand and if no connection comes, confusion at your otherwise easily-loved personality.

My own personality doesn’t cater to the masses. I’m quirky, and my interests are usually on the fringes. So the chances of hitting it off with a random date from Tinder are especially low. Repeat this practice several times a week–I’m left confused. I thought I was charming–at least a little? I even had one Tinder date get up and leave after I made an offbeat joke just twenty minutes after we sat down. I could only think, “I’m strange, but I’m not that strange — am I?”

I went out with friends one night after a month’s hiatus of socializing at bars. With my self-worth shattered, I’d only expected to chat with the friends I’d arrived with. I was at rock bottom mentally. But that evening, one chat snowballed into another, and within a couple hours I was yucking it up with an adorable lady and her friends for the rest of the night. I returned home and woke up the next morning with a sort of shock to my ego. A positive one. Women didn’t actually hate me. I hadn’t turned Quasimodo like I thought. Girls were flirting with me!

The secret to meeting people is simple, ladies and gentlemen. Hang out with the people where your conversations and laughter happen easily. Russell Brand doesn’t go hunting for the women who bullied him in high school. He simply meets the hotties who already dig his wacked-out demeanor. He stays in the circles that like him, and doesn’t bend his tendencies for any lady no matter how lovely.

Then why do we all subject ourselves to this exhausting process when the traditional approach was just fine? Why did Tinder catch on? For each gender, it’s different.

Tinder preys on fear: Women’s fear of missing out, and men’s fear of rejection.

I believe people have the best intentions. We want to live healthy lives, but corporations have hacked our brains to become addicted to crap, with most food in a supermarket being deep-fried sugar-bread. Men want to respect women, but porno sites hijack that primal part of our brains that become addicted to watching multiple sex acts on video one-after-another. Objectification and high sexual tolerance set in.

Similarly, women have the best intentions of meeting a great guy, but Tinder hacks their brains giving them a sense of extreme abundance and unrealistic standards. When the matches come pouring in, each individual match holds less weight in her mind, and the desire to top the previous matches with even more attractive, better matches becomes the primary focus. This is when Tinder becomes a video game for women.

For the record, this screenshot is the one that’s from my actual life.

Women’s original intention may be to meet a good guy, but once she gets sucked into the addiction of playing the game, the prospect of actually meeting someone is less important.

As humans, and especially as introverts, we naturally look for the path with least resistance. In the case of dating, engaging with a stranger is that resistance. It’s emotionally safer for us to hide behind a computer screen and wait for someone to validate us behind our avatars. We’ll spend days searching for a girl online instead of going to the bar and finding her in one damn hour. Efficient? No. Safe? Totally.

My purpose is to put it in your mind that you are wasting your time with even one second on Tinder or OkCupid. Women, you are unhealthily creating a false abundance of interested men and a “fear-of-missing-out on steroids” with every left-swipe and subsequent new match. Chat up that dude sitting next to you at the biergarten. If you do that a few times a month, you’ll have better odds at meeting a man you have chemistry with than the barrage of random guys on Tinder. And if you are going to a bar where the type of men you’re interested in frequent, you can have better odds that he’s not only compatible with you as a person, but comparable also. Don’t go to the hole-in-the-wall on a Friday night just because you’re feeling lazy, go to the bar where there are guys who you know you can actually see a future with. Men, you sissies, nothing could be worse for your confidence, social skills, time, and dating success than to replace meeting women in real-life with hiding from rejection online.

Is the only thing keeping you from approaching a woman at a cafe that little man inside saying, “Noo, but it will hurt!” Is that the only reason you’re avoiding practicing the most efficient method possible for your dating life? Your capacity to take risks in all areas of your life is deteriorating with each day you stay away from saying, “Hello,” to that lovely girl sitting next to you.

Social networking evangelist (and my personal idol) Gary Vaynerchuk would say I’m a traditionalist and need to join the trend or die. Here’s my response: While all of you dweebs are spending hours on your phone hoping that hottie will respond to your Tinder message, she dropped her phone as I just approached her in the cafe she’s sitting in. The reason she didn’t respond? She’s chatting with me.

I want to be clear to you, I don’t hate online dating. I hate the current state of online dating. I am a proponent of love, and anything that helps my friends best find their soulmates is the approach I advocate. Just because online dating in its current evolution is debilitating to our dating lives, this doesn’t mean someone won’t create something groundbreaking in the future. I support innovation and I’m confident that something great will emerge and perhaps one day I’ll be whistling a different tune.

Businesses aren’t always holding your best interests in mind when creating a new service or product. Not all innovation is good. GMOs don’t help our guts. Electronic cigarettes don’t make you look cooler. Aspartame isn’t a better substitute for sugar. Soy might not be the best substitute for meat. But it’s conscious individuals that realize what we’re fed isn’t there because it’s healthy. Health-conscious restaurants source food from local, organic, free-range farms to keep you at your best and eating the most fresh. Everyone from moms to celebrities are speaking out against Monsanto on social networks and creating awareness where it would otherwise go unnoticed. But even shopping at your corner store for a quick bag of pesticidal veggies will not affect you as quickly and substantially as spending your time on a dating app. Just like cigarettes, the worst thing about it all is that it’s not even fun. Are you enjoying this constant messaging? Isn’t it more fun to spark that unique chemistry in-person? To flirt without knowing how it will work out? Maybe she likes you, maybe she doesn’t. To watch her expressions as she answers your questions, to feel that bubbling and tension between the two of you as the interaction progresses? That’s random mutual attraction. Online dating is soulless work. Repeated messages met with repeated lack of responses. What could be more sad than being in the business of mechanizing a practice humans hold sacred and beautiful? It’s taking that practice and making it less efficient in its purpose as well as addictive.

@garyvee, this isn’t Blockbuster or Borders. This is definitely not black and white television. This is a stripping down of the natural dance we’ve been born to do. Sit down on a park bench and watch: The birds and the bees are doing it right now.

To all of the successful couples that met and even got married using the internet: I am more happy for you than you could ever expect. I’ve met some amazing women with whom I’ve been in relationships through online dating. Though they are few and far between. Out of the thousands of women I’ve matched or messaged, only a few have turned into something more than a first date. I’ve learned from my experiences. Work smart, not hard. Overcoming the fear of saying hello is always more fulfilling than the messages I send to ultimately no one. Because even if that hello doesn’t turn into anything serious, that little exchange will always be more meaningful to me than one hundred fruitless interactions online.

I’ve created a hashtag for us to share our real-life dating experiences. Whether to laugh at our embarrassments or show off our personal achievements, let #DatingIRL be our inspiration to be more social with the people in our daily lives, and our encouragement to start a conversation with that hunk or cute girl in our coffee shop where we usually would instead opt for a Tinder swipe.

Try my examples:

Just met the cutest blonde in this used bookstore near the park. We’re going out this weekend. #DatingIRL

Or…

I forgot that all I need to do is glance and smile at a dude and sometimes he’ll actually just come over and talk. #DatingIRL

It’s time to end the addiction to online dating when let’s be honest, you know it’s getting you nothing but mediocre late-night hookups, directionless relationships, and a walking daze to your daily life. Right now, turn to your left, open your lips, say, “Excuse me. What are you reading?”