Flavor of the Week: Tinder
It was junior year of high school. I was sitting at the desk second farthest to the right in Ms. B’s* chemistry class. I received a text.
It contained the first of many incriminating screenshots I would tangle myself in over subsequent years. The text was from my then- v serious boyfriend; the screenshot was of my Tinder profile. Yes, that is oxymoronic.
“My camp friend sent this screenshot to me,” he typed below the image. “What the hell is this?”
To this day, this is one of the best stories I keep in my back pocket. Hours before the text, Twitter was going off about some new app called “Tinder.” I did not know anything about it — all I saw was the mental red flag that signals rough ocean waters, social media, or a combination of the two — but I was in. Quickly in between classes, I downloaded the app and made myself a profile. And to this day, I will swear on sleepaway camp that I was innocent. All I had done was create an account — I hadn’t even had the time to see what the app actually did.
I didn’t know that Tinder is a socially acceptable Match.com for lonely young people in the same geographical area that also allows you to decide your level of interest in a potential partner on the sole basis of his or her Facebook profile picture. Mine, by the way, was a cute one of me and said boyfriend.
He was mad and called bluff. I, of course, thought the whole fiasco was hysterical. I mean, if I was really looking to use Tinder to get guys at the ripe age of 16, don’t you think I would have at least changed my profile picture to one less couple-y?
But I’m sure you can now understand why my Tinder account has been almost completely untouched by the heat of any fire ever since. With my luck and previous experience, it’ll go up in flames from “0 to 100 real quick,” said Drake. Therefore, I cannot claim to be a Tinder connoisseur, so I will instead ask my perhaps embarrassing, perhaps easily-explanable, perhaps pathetic for a millennial questions to you in case you swipe as well as that fox in Dora the Explorer.
Can someone please tell me what Tinder is actually for? Is it for pursuing relationships, and is it really just a simplified version of Match.com that is easier on our eyes (well, I guess that depends on who comes up on your feed), easier on your brain, and fast enough for our multi-tasking millennial over-diagnosed ADD? Or is it, instead, an aid to those in search of bootay? If you are looking just for the B, or the D, or the AA because women of all sizes are BEAUTIFUL (gotcha there, didn’t I), wouldn’t it be beyond weird to talk to someone on Tinder for half an hour about menial things and meet up with them and just start making out because, c’mon, that’s what you’re both here for in the first place?
Is that how Tinder works and am I just naive like Liesl when she’s 16 going on 17? Because IMHO (in my honest opinion), most people a) are not on Tinder looking to go steady but also b) it would be really effing weird to make out with someone just because you have some mutual friends on Facebook. So what’s the dealio? Haha, dealio.
But then again, we’ve all been with someone just because of mutual friends, but just in real life — at bars, clubs, concerts.
This is what my friend, remotely avid Tinder user, but really just the most openly avid I know, says. In her words, “I think a lot of people joke about it and don’t take it seriously, meanwhile almost everyone is on it with a similar purpose. [They] joke it’s unconventional, but most of us don’t know dating in any other form, or interacting with people in any other element than online.” And then she dropped the holy bomb:
“It’s sort of the norm for our generation, in my opinion.”
I think her opinion might be mine too. When she connects with someone on Tinder, they arrange to hang out. Recently, she went to an expensive restaurant in the city on a first Tinder date. Other times, she just hangs out with her matches. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Whenever she does connect, though, it sounds completely, totally normal.
When I reactivated my Tinder account at the end of last summer, admittedly bored and lonely in the Hamptons — which is not as romantic as it sounds when you are sharing a bedroom with your two brothers — I matched with every person I swiped right. My ego inflated instantly. More gratifying than Easy Mac. Tinder was fun. It was like Candy Crush.
With each of my matches, I avoided all conversation. I received a “Hey,” and took it as a joke. I was paranoid. No one seemed real. I wasn’t getting out of bed to meet up with some random guy to fool around in the dunes or at the dive around the corner. The best part of the experience was by far the matching; realizing — remembering — you can get back in the game, that there is such a thing as mutual attraction, that there are fish in the area of the Atlantic Ocean that surrounds the easternmost tip of Long Island.
But that was where it stopped. Even a fresh, dense stack of Tinder was, for me, not enough to light my fire.
*Name abbreviated to protect the privacy of this wonderful woman.