Swiping Society

Dating is social.

You see the fingers moving, on or under the table, but you have no idea how many people are out there in the city doing the same thing...

People are swiping.

People are tindering.

Secretly or publically. Either way, they swipe, whenever they get a break from work or get bored by anything else, in high-speed elevators going up and town in skyscrapers, in clumsy Green line trains passing through colleges, in dreamy patisseries on Newbury Street, in the middle of the road with red lights blinking and horns honking.

It’s becoming an underground society. You see the fingers moving, on or under the table, but you have no idea how many people are out there in the city doing the same thing. It’s been a while since you have met someone through another person. You meet new people digitally. Thanks to the visualized Internet world, you don’t need a secret signal like a blue beret, a green checkered shirt, or a long umbrella. You can easily recognize a stranger who you’ve never met, catch up with his/her 25-year life in 10 minutes, talk about ambitious dreams and sex fantasies, and never see him/her again in the rest of your life. Yet you’re still connected on the Internet. Many of you keep it a secret. You move the App in a folder or on the second page of your smartphone screen. You dwarf in a corner and cover the screen while you swipe. We have not arrived at a time when everyone dares enough to announce:

“Oh, we met online”.

It’s becoming a lifestyle. You download it and use it just as you do with other chat Apps. Constantly checking it’s notifications. It’s the first thing you do when you slowly wake up while the sun sneaks in through the window blinds, you can barely open your eyes but you know where exactly the app with the orange fire icon is located on your phone. It’s the last thing you do after you kick off your shoes and snug like a bug in a rug in your messy but comfy bedroom, you’re too tired to do anything else but you don’t mind holding your phone in the air and do some finger exercises.

“Sex was invented in 2012 when Tinder was launched.” The dating App now has over 50 million users around the world, among which 10 million daily active users make 1.4 billion swipes and 26 million matches every single day. The peak time is 6pm — 10pm. There are about 16,000 swipes and 300 matches per second on Tinder.

Last fall, Tinder unveiled its Super Like feature, which encourages people to get your feelings out and by introducing Tinder Social, a brand new group dating feature, it encourages you to get yourself out. At first, all the swipes remain mysterious until you match with someone. But now, Tinder wants you to speak out your feeling, get someone’s attention, and even let everybody know that you’re on Tinder.

Believe it or not, Tinder now wants to convince you that dating is social.

In a city like Boston, where people meet, mix and mingle, it’s already an unspoken truth.

Dating is social here.

The city of Boston is a wonderland for singles. 656,051 people, including 316,075 males and 339,976 females, walk through 988 miles of streets in this iconic New England city. People between the age of 20 and 34 make up 34.5% of the demographics. It’s one of the nation’s best cities for bachelors. 69% of the city’s population is unmarried. The ratio of single men to single ladies is 93/100. A brainiac from MIT even found scientific evidence that if each single male in Boston were to eliminate all undesirable matches, he is still left with about 2,500 female options.

Let’s face it, Boston is a city where people don’t stay. It’s another movable feast. The uncertainty and instability give you the courage to take adventures with people you hardly know because you have the faith that you will only see most of them once in a lifetime. There are millions of passengers who fly in and out of Logan International Airport each year. Most people are not sure where the next stop is going to be. A ready-to-go suitcase is as necessary as a dating App.

Boston is a city that sleeps, very early in fact. Most stores close when it gets dark, the rest shut down no later than 11, including most McDonalds. You can count the 24h restaurants in the city with your fingers and you know where they are and how to get there better than anywhere else. South Street Diner and Bova’s Bakery are two of the few. Time is tight, there is nowhere to go after midnight. No one knows who set a curfew to this city.

After dark, Uber drivers might be the busiest people in the city. Over 1.75 million riders took 28 million trips with 45 thousand driver-partners in Massachusetts since it launched here 4 years ago. Riders and partners have logged 115 million miles together — that’s almost 500 trips to the moon. When the public transportation closes on weekend nights, Uber requests more than double near popular stops like Park Street. Each Friday and Saturday between 10PM and 4AM, Uber facilitates nearly 70,000 trips in Boston.

These Uber drivers are also the most informed ones — who rarely talk but listen. Gary from Vietnam has been driving Uber as a full-time job for 3 years in his black Honda Accord Hybrid. Every day around 11 pm he gets two large iced coffees, one in a cup and another one in his camping bottle, at the Dunkin’ Donuts 600-feet away from his apartment in West Roxbury and then spends the next 6 hours in his car giving Uber rides. Boston Common and Cambridge Brewing Co. are two of the most popular places he drops off riders.

In his cramped “office on wheels” filling with the smell of tacky air fresheners, Gary has overheard his fair share of anecdotes and gossip. He was not surprised when he saw Jack, a married man, flirting with a college girl he met on Tinder. He was also the first one to know when Dave broke up with his girlfriend over voicemail: “I’ll see you when I see you.” Just one of the many lines that hangs over Gary’s head from the back seat of his car. Gary drives Uber, and he knows things.

Dating in Boston is quite different.

It’s casual. No ties, no heels. You don’t need to get dolled up. A guy might tell you he prefers the down-to-the-earth kind of girl. Sneakers might be a good choice because it’s very possible that he could take you to the Common or the Public Garden and tell you that’s his favorite spot in the city because it’s very different with every season and he is not sure which season he prefers because he loves them all equally.

Be prepared for the question “Where do you go to school?” Boston is home to 31 colleges and universities, plus 2 community colleges, and 153,000 students were enrolled in 2014. 46.5% of the city’s residents ages 25 and older have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Antique used bookshops, including some famous ones like 192-year-old Brattle Bookshop and Grolier, the oldest all-poetry bookshop in the nation, are spread out all over the city. Each year 323,789 library cards are active. It’s pretty common to take a stroll in a bookshop on a first date. Be aware that your date might have a roommate, who would be a buffer for “I’d love to take you to my place but I can’t” situation.

Approximately 80,079 fire calls are answered every year, yet you date might not call you back after the first date. In this swiping society, we are already trained how to say hello, but we always owe each other a proper goodbye. We are the generation best at disappearing both on the Internet and the Outernet. Unmatching with someone is as fast as swiping right on someone. We get used to lying about “I’ll text you” instead of saying “goodbye”. After dinner Steve told me: “You are sweet, but I don’t think I’ll see you again.” It was an awful date, but I really appreciated that he said goodbye.

Even though we try to disguise the fact we’re connected, the second you swipe, we are bonded in this swiping society.