Published online for The Independent 28/11/2013
I’ve been on three dates this week”- not my words but that of a friend to which I responded with sheer bafflement. Not only was I astounded that someone living in London had the time for such extreme socialising but that she managed to co-ordinate meeting three date-worthy guys within one week, a feat only the very skilled and hyper-organised can master. This was my initial introduction to the Tinder application as she went on to explain the pick and mix of men she had been chatting to and all from just an effortless thumb swipe and a click. From there, Tinder seemed to pop up in too many conversations to ignore and so I had to experience it for myself, if only to once again have something in common with my friends and to rejoin the conversation.
Becoming part of the Tinder family takes literally a matter of seconds, as does your decision to like or reject the menu of men you are shown. This is very clever on the part of the creators who have obviously recognised the blatant and inescapable fact that us humans are generally shallow and tend to make our initial judgement based on aesthetics. While it might be nice that “Roberto” enjoys romcoms and long walks in the rain, realistically most of us girls just want to see what “Roberto” looks like, and the same, of course, can be said for men. Tinder taps into this less romantic side of us all by allowing you to get chatting to or arrange a date with a guy in less than the time it takes to order a pizza.
Doing away with Tom, Dick and Harry
As the least electronically minded person I know, I managed at first to even struggle with what is really quite a basic app. It took one too many times of swiping to the right before I realised I was liking men unintentionally. Before I knew it I was receiving a message congratulating me that I had now been matched with Peter. Peter being a man whose profile picture seemed to feature him with his cat, and also someone I had wished to swipe past. I received a message from Peter quite promptly enquiring as to what was my favourite dinosaur, a line which neither in a bar nor on Tinder would work any magic for me.
Before long I found myself swiping past dozens of men, some of which I realised I was not even looking at as it was all too easy to keep swiping. My thumb seemed to form some sort of swiping spasm and I was soon leaving Tom, Dick and Harry disappearing into Tinder oblivion.
Through my intrepid travels of men in a 20 mile radius of myself, I came across some real gems. Before I divulge, please bare in mind that, like most little girls, I grew up hearing stories about princes on horseback taking princesses off into the sunset, and watching Disney movies where men would either break into sporadic song or fight a giant octopus for your affections.
On my swiping travels I came across men on horseback, men with their arms around various women (some of whom seemed to be wives or girlfriends),
men with children on their knee, men in cringe-worthy topless selfies, men drinking cocktails in a pool wearing speedos, a man dressed as a bat…not batman…but as a genuine bat, a man in a balaclava, hipster men looking thoughtful and creative, men wearing sunglasses indoors, men doing some topless cooking, gym photos, a few wedding photos, bathroom selfies with loo included, and a goat.
My favourite by far was the man who simply chose a plate of curry chips for his profile picture. As a fan of said dish, I immediately clicked like, as we instantly had something in common.
After a few days it was safe to derive that Tinder surely has something and someone to suit everyone’s taste.
Achieving Tinder matrimony
I then began to receive messages, most of which were complete nonsense which in the midst of my midweek exhaustion I was too tired and grumpy to engage with. I did however have a fairly normal conversation with one man who I agreed to meet for a drink. I am neither sorry nor shocked to report that this date will not result in what may be the first Tinder marriage as two sips in I was planning my escape. This man looked about 3 feet shorter than his picture, was missing more teeth than your average pirate and had screen grabbed a picture of me to look at in his phone gallery at his convenience. On top of a bad first impression, we had nothing in common. He had just overcome a drug addiction and was wearing a shirt which his mother had ironed. I iron my own clothes and can barely remember to take my multivitamins everyday.
Although this date was not the stuff stars are made of I do not believe that can be said for all Tinder induced dates. The huge amount of users mean odds are at the very least you will make some new friends. Naturally, like all social situations, you will come across people who are only interested in booty calls, but for every one of those there are people genuinely looking to find a partner. Tinder is also extremely location dependent as it works perfectly in London where we are all too busy and important to make any huge sort of effort. It would however be a very different story in a small rural area where you are likely to be swiping past most of your cousins.
Dating sites seem to have had a dramatic change of image in the last few years, and have become much more socially acceptable. Tinder in particular has somehow bypassed social snobbery and seems to have taken the place of cool kid in the school of online dating forums.