My 22-year-old son is on Tinder and thought I should try it. He and I both knew it would be kind of a joke, and sort of funny, we just didn’t fully understand why until I actually did it.
My biggest fear with registering with Tinder was that because I lived in a small community, I was afraid I’d see someone on there that I recognized — like my single boss. How awkward would that be? I was also afraid I might happen upon a couple of my tool bag ex-boyfriends. That would be awkward and annoying.
Still, unlike Match, I was in control of who I talked to and that really appealed to me. The idea that I got to decide, with the swipe of a finger, who I chatted it up with and who I coldly dismissed (without their knowledge) made me press on.
Setting up my profile was fun. I tried to select images that were tasteful but intriguing. I chose a headshot, a picture of me golfing, one of me fishing and one of me propped up on my tired old vintage Mercedes. Confident that those images made me appear sufficiently fun and cool, I had to come up with a tag line. I settled for the ever-popular Joe Dirt maxim, “Life’s a garden, dig it.” Convinced that I was dating gold, I uploaded my “matches.”
Tinder matches you to people based on the folks that are in your target range (I set mine to 20 miles), in your target age group (32-55) whose heart is generating a pulse. That’s it. Where other sites are based on personality profiles and compatibility, Tinder’s matches are based on gender, age and proximity. I found that mildly disturbing, but not enough to quit.
To use the app, a picture of a “match” appears and you swipe the image left to dismiss and right to let them know you’d like to talk to them. This also made me feel a little creepy. I was dismissing other human beings, whom I knew nothing about, based purely on looks. Gulp. Was I comfortable with this? Not really, but still I pressed on.
To really test out the app, I found one guy that I swiped right on. He was good looking in an outdoorsy sort of way and his byline said something like, “Bearded guy, doing bearded guy things.” I thought that was kind of funny, and at 39, Bearded Guy was one of the few “matches” in my age group.
Bearded Guy and I launched into a very meaningful conversation about beards, and how prolific d-bags are in my area (his observation, not mine). And then the conversation was over. I’m thinking Bearded Guy, like most of the guys on Tinder, defined “Bearded Guy things” as hooking up and I was obviously taking too long getting to the punch line.
In the end, the feature that drew me to Tinder (selecting who I talked to, instead of the other way around) is what turned me off to it. I felt dirty chucking people to the left on looks alone and philosophically I came to realize that Tinder represents all that is wrong with dating today. It’s too easy.
Nobody has to put forth any effort, or take any real time getting to know the other person. There’s no personal investment. Who you have a drink with or in some cases — sleep with — is determined with the swipe of a finger. Call me weird, but there is just something about that concept that feels cold and wrong.