Finger skating. Love at first swipe. If you swipe right you know it’s right. Don’t touch my breast unless you’re a Tinder guest. All phrases that only entered our lexicon with the rise of a certain dating app over the past twelve months – so what does it all mean?
It means I’ve gone to the dark side. I’ve gone gonzo on this Tinder bish. Consider the following a delicious purging of the experiences I’ve had over the last month.
My Iove-affair with Tinder began as I was looking over the precipice of singledom with a glass of Pinot Noir in hand. Through my wine-haze and love nihilism, I found myself remembering a Neitzsche quote; “when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you”. Who knew Nietzsche was talking about dating in the 21st century?
Equipped with panda eyes and panties the wrong-way round (the abyss…code for a night still absent from my mushy brain) I logged in, tuned out and started moving through what was essentially a man-catalogue of eligible local bachelors. There was an emerging pattern of profile pictures. I’ve always found the online world an interesting study of the images people like to perpetuate. Here’s a quick summary of some of the types that emerged most frequently:
1. The Adorable Pic: This picture will usually contain family members who are typically very cute and very little, very cute and very old, attractive siblings, or proud parents. Pets are included in this category, as this is a picture designed to tug on your loins/ovaries by tugging on your heartstrings.
2. The Friend Pic: Also known as the squinting picture, or the ‘which one are you?’ This picture will demonstrate this person has a lot going on in their lives, and that they love their friends. It also indicates that this person is social and likely validates themselves on the quality of said friendships.
3. The Hobby Pic: This is the ‘I have lots of interesting hobbies and am really a well-rounded independent person’ shot. Wow that was a mouthful but if you swipe right on someone that enjoys canyoning in volcanoes and motorcycling through the Amazon, there will be a lot of talking about them. These people enjoy their hobbies and the reason why they want to let you know about it is because (drum roll) they want to talk about it! These people are usually competitive, passionate and sometimes vain-as-fuck.
4. The Selfie: The quintessential picture reveals one of two things only: your Selfie game is on point, or you really should consider an agency. The former is common and the latter unlikely. I find it both amusing and alien that there is a number of YouTube tutorials on how to aesthetically defy the odds and trick potential partners into believing you belong in a Coke commercial. The Selfie may be accompanied by a self-deprecating hash tag to lessen the egotism. Better yet a hashtag containing #unintelligiblenarcissism.
5. The ‘Taking the Piss: This is the court jester of pictures. They want to show you that they don’t take this thing really seriously. Usually contains copious amounts of drunken antics, stupid stunts or goofy faces. I don’t need to go into much more detail because regardless of this person’s humorous disposition, most people won’t bite by swiping right.
My rabbit hole tactic was to pick out the best of the archetypes – so I courted everyone from basketball loving hip-hoppers, to Yogi’s who drank peyote on their weekends. This came with everything in between, from beautiful blonde boys next door, politicised Italians and sober Englishman. I was a diabetic kid in a fairy floss machine at the fairground, whirling in a kaleidoscope of get-to-know you questions and sexual signals.
There are two schools of thoughts on this app, which has exploded over the last year and threatens to introduce celebrities into the mix on the next update. First up is the social experimentation perspective. One Tinderfella that happened to be courting me said that “It’s a great way to meet new people who have no connection to your life, that way you start from scratch”.
This brings me to the second school of thought: Drink Up/Hook Up. These individuals don’t muck around. They don’t want to know where you grew up, what you do in your spare time, what’s your jam at the moment. They want to know what color underwear you’re wearing and if you’re out drinking so they can see for themselves. They want to know if you want to see them naked (‘No thanks’ – guess I’m a prude). With the introduction of Moments on Tinder, asking someone about his or her Snapchat name is unnecessary. Now you can sext away to your hearts content, until your prostate is frustrated and your snail trails.
So allow me to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ask pensively while looking out my window, which unfortunately is not NYC, but instead a view of my neighbors bathroom. By cutting out the sloppy groping, awkward eye contact and unavoidable rejection, are we cutting out the best part dating? By cutting out the middle man are we cutting out OUR middle man?
After all it’s these stories that make the man or woman. This is what really builds character. Character is something that’s hard enough to find in a person these days – dare I say personality too. I can’t help but think that the Tinder world is a soulless place.
To continue the fairground analogy, Tinder is a place with the all too real potential for a freak show of liars, narcissists, and closet loners who will eventuate to a stage-5 clinger status. Pretty entertaining but what does it all mean?
Is this part of the Darwinian theory of evolution, natural (sexual) selection? Based on selecting our mate on pure unadulterated looks, sure we’ll be a better looking species but what about the other stuff? I’ve loved baldies, tall freaks, chubbers, men incapable of growing facial hair, freckly men who looked like they were born smiling malevolently. Would I have chosen these guys on Tinder?
Well, no – because Tinder didn’t exist back then. Were they subjected to the words punching? In private perhaps, but never to me. These guys were great lovers, great friends, and great people to add to my story.
Maybe this is the wave of the future – but this temporary Tinder tenderer calls bullshit.
Words by GERALDINE PLEITEZ, a poet and freelance journo currently drafting her first novel. Her secret to meeting new people is making confusing and inaccurate celebrity impressions at parties. This also explains why her Selfie Game is so on point – a lot of practicing in the mirror.