If you haven't heard of Tinder, a "dating" app for the iPhone, you are probably lying and swiping through your matches right now. It seems like everyone and their grandma (literally...Hi Rhonda, 64) is a part of this bizarre craze. And until recently, I had vowed to be a part of the 1% (mostly just consisting of the Amish) who abstained from checking out dudes on my iPhone.
It wasn't the prospect of "virtual" dating that spooked me. Rather, I firmly believe online dating is the way of the future and that it's really just a matter of time before we are video-chatting potential soul mates as we cruise along in our Wall-E chairs. No, Tinder creeped me out on the basis that it is 101% appearance oriented.
The app functions like so: You are presented with a picture of a guy or gal and with a 0.001 second judgement and a flick of your finger, you asses them as a "Nope!" or a "Like!" If you nix them, you never have to see a picture of their sweaty face in a crowded bar again. If you like them, and they like you back, a mystical jingle comes out of your phone and you are given the ability to chat with this person. Where you go from there is up to you and Mr. Sweaty.
One by one, my friends all downloaded the app and started feverishly weeding their way through NYC's offerings.
"You have to look at this guy!" they would giggle, turning their phone to reveal a picture of a man who's pea-head was disappearing into his extremely beefy shoulders or someone with the name "Woogie."
Though they were clearly delighted with the power to reject thousands of men in mere minutes, to me it just felt so fundamentally wrong to be treating someone's life as part of a game. Even if his name is Woogie, he still wants to be loved!
That's when I realized the point: People say they download an app like Tinder because it's "fun" or they are "curious," but the root of the interest is a fundamental need for acceptance and romantic validation. With that in mind, I took the plunge.
After ten minutes, I was already bored. I had scrolled through at least 100 men, all of whom chose to represent themselves with a grainy, red-eyed picture of them wearing a glow-in-the-dark necklace at a club.
"Everyone on here is gross!" I whined, giving a firm "No!" to the 101st "Recent business-school grad ready to just live life!"
"Just give it a little more time," my roommate, a hardened Tinder veteran, assured me. "There are some good ones out there."
As if on cue, I was presented with a tall, scruffy-looking boy in a flannel shirt. Sure, he was a dime-a-dozen Bushwickian, but he was cute. Hesitantly, I moved my finger away from it's permanent position over the "X" and gingerly tapped the checkmark. My phone produced a little fairy twinkle and announced "It's a match!"
"It's a match!" I shrieked. "A match!" I proceeded to flail around with all the finesse of an out-of-touch great-aunt who has just won her first eBay auction. My roommate congratulated me on the first of many pairings with the beanie-wearing, fixed-gear-riding lads of Brooklyn.
I've only had the app for a few days, but I'm admittedly excited about its potential. Though it was originally considered a "hookup connection" it seems to be morphing into something more. A few of my friends have had "THE BEST DATE OF MY LIFE!!11!" after dipping their toe in the Meeting People from the Internet waters, and according to New York Magazine, more than 100 marriage proposals have already resulted from Tinder matches.
For the time being, I'll enjoy the validation of cute guys who share an interest in Neutral Milk Hotel...But I'm slowly becoming intrigued about the possibility of a bigger picture. And I get the sense that the dudes on the opposite side of the screen might be thinking the same thing. Like I said, everyone's just lookin' for love.
What's YOUR Tinder story?