In comparison with most people my age, I am not very social-media active. My foray in online profile making ended in high school with the creation of my Facebook page, and it has remained pretty unaltered since its creation date aside from the addition of pictures, nearly all of which were added by people other than myself. Typically, I find myself logging in once or twice a day in a state of boredom and giving the mouse a few scrolls down before realizing that little amusing has happened, and I log off.
So when I decided to try my hand at Tinder for a week, I was stepping into an online twilight zone without even the foggiest idea of how to conduct myself. Of course, I’d heard rumors of what I may find myself getting into. Tinder is, after all, the most explicit in its surface-level intentions, and for that reason is either reviled or loved.
For those unaware, Tinder is a mobile application that links to your Facebook profile. Once linked, it snags a couple of your most recent profile pictures and little tidbits of personal information from whatever is posted in your “about me” section to create a streamlined profile that only displays your first name and age. Other users in a close proximity to you are then shown your profile and decide whether they find you attractive enough based upon the few pictures and brief description that is shown to them. If your “duck-faced” sorority pose or “meathead muscle” pic isn’t quite cutting the mustard, they swipe left in a symbolic “nope.” If they like what you’re working with, they swipe right.
The cool part is that you get to do the same thing. Provided there are enough Tinder users in your local area, you can quite literally spend hours assessing the beauty of people that you don’t know with merely effortless flicks of the thumb.
The real fun starts when two of the same people “like” each others profile. At this point, the app turns into a messenger, linking people of similar levels of attractiveness so that they are free to chat, meet up, sexually proposition one another, or whatever.
I started my Tinder out hesitantly, scrutinizing over the profiles that were shown to me and keeping my radius set relatively narrow. I only “liked” those that I found legitimately appealing to the eyes or those with common interests. The sad thing is, after a few days of this Tinder perfectionism, I had yet to be matched up with anyone. Insecurity began to take over. Was I committing a serious Tinder no-no that was entirely unknown to me? Were the girls that I was “liking” that far out of my league? My online undesirability wreaked havoc on my self-confidence. In a desperate frenzy, I set my radius and acceptable age limit to the maximum and gave up swiping left altogether.
Much to my relief the matches began to pour in. And some of them were even attractive, cool girls (or perhaps just masters of Photoshop). But this relief also came with a new source of anxiety: Now that I had made these matches, what do I say to these young women who had flattered me with a “like?”
Eventually deciding that humor was the best option, I messaged my first victim, a pretty 22-year-old OSU student: “Ayo Gurrrllll, lemme holla atcha.” The message was met with some initial amusement, but as is the case with most forced conversations, it died pretty quickly. I found this short-winded nature of conversation to be fairly standard of every girl that I worked up the gumption to chat with. I didn’t get any propositions, save for one girl who only posted pictures of herself bikini-clad and relentlessly pressured me to join her in some third-party chat site.
Whatever your perception of Tinder may be, personally, I didn’t feel that it lived up to the hype. Admittedly, the assigning of value to others based upon their physical appearance alone is incredibly vain and image-obsessed, but it is only pointing out the presence of vanity in our culture. I found no gratuitous sexuality or anything of that nature, just small talk and picture gazing. Aside from the occasional ego boost that comes along with an attractive girl showing some right-swipe love your way, the app doesn’t really have much to offer.