Things that I think and do
During a relatively dull Tuesday evening a month or so ago, I decided that I’d download this funky app that I’d been hearing about quite a bit. No, not Flappy Bird (although I have actually got that as well and was rather disappointed that I didn’t get soul-destroyingly addicted to it as I’d been told I would). What I downloaded was an app called ‘Tinder’.
What happens on Tinder is this. It’s linked to Facebook, but only insofar as it gets your first name and age, and so you can use those pictures on your Tinder profile – it doesn’t do anything publicly on Facebook after that. You create a profile using a selection of good (or in my case, not catastrophically bad) photos and optionally by writing something about yourself, you set the parameters so that you ‘see’ women or men, set the age range (somewhere between 18 and ‘50+’), set the distance range and off you go.
The app then scans the local area within the distance you’ve set for other Tinder users, and then their profiles appear on your screen, with their first choice photo, their name and their age.
Now here’s the part that divides opinion almost as much as the Israel-Palestine debate. When you see these profiles, you decide if you fancy them or not and ‘swipe’ accordingly – swiping right means you’ve ‘liked’ them, and swiping left means you don’t.
The thing about Tinder is that they don’t know which way you’ve swiped, or even if you’ve seen their pictures. If you swipe right on their profile and they swipe right on your profile the two of you ‘match’ and only then can you start sending messages to each other. That is the only circumstance in which you can absolutely know how the other person has swiped (except with one girl I know who saw me on Tinder, took a screenshot and messaged me with it saying “hahahahahaha…what to do?!?” which rather undermined the whole anonymity principle).
Anyway, it’s as simple as that. You don’t talk to people you don’t fancy, and you might get to talk to people you do fancy if they in turn fancy you.
I’m not going to get into a long-winded debate about the morals of Tinder, because frankly these get boring and I probably don’t agree with you. My (perhaps somewhat essentialist) point of view here is that everyone has signed up for it knowing what’s going to happen, so if you don’t like the idea don’t go on it. Luckily the people who do have a problem with Tinder aren’t on it and those who don’t are, so that makes everyone happy. (Yeah right).
Personally I find Tinder quite an amusing and fun phenomenon. I got it perhaps five weeks ago, and have since swiped very many gurls – and I think I’ve probably swiped each way fairly evenly. At the time of writing, I have 95 matches – which is either great for me or a terrible return considering the number of girls I’ve fancied on there (undoubtedly a lot more than 95).
I also don’t feel that I swipe overly judgementally, based purely on looks. Well, obviously I do a bit – that’s the point – but what I mean is that I’m not minutely picky about looks. OK, that still sounds terrible…
Basically I have some general guidelines for swiping:
I’m not really trying to convince anyone to get Tinder here – I think you have to be a certain type of person with certain views about relationships and sex for it to be of any appeal at all. Fundamentally, it’s no different from a dating site; I think it’s only the fact that very basic details and a limited number of photos are shown that means it is more likely to be a ‘hook-up’ app than a serious dating site.
Ultimately it’s hard to take Tinder very seriously. For many it’s a casual pastime – or even a game, which may not be the most flattering way of looking at it. There are two aspects of Tinder that even I find a bit dubious: firstly that when you swipe left, red text saying ‘Nope’ is stamped on the picture as it disappears; and secondly that when you get a match while swiping you have the option to either send a message or to ‘Keep on playing’.
By and large, though, the anonymity works quite well in allowing Tinderites to get full use from the app. It allows for a fresh start, because matches (and potential matches) only have a few carefully selected images and a name to go on. You can say pretty much anything you like (although that’s sometimes a dangerous thing) and be pretty much whoever you want to be.
This ability to not take it at all seriously, and not take anything from it personally, is vital for Tinder users. My housemate has embraced this irreverence fully, leading to the creation of my favourite opening line:
“I saw a duck-billed platypus on my birthday once. Have you ever seen any interesting animals on any of your birthdays?”