I recently made a Tinder account. I was against it, but my friend insisted. She promised it would be beneficial, considering that I am 19 and have never been on a real date. Thus far, Tinder is just as frustrating as real world dating. It perfectly reflects our obsession with appearance, overuse of technology, and expectation of sex. Tinder gives a four-photograph profile for each user; swipe right if you like them; swipe left if you do not. If there is a mutual “right swipe”, you get a match and can chat directly. I have flipped through hundreds of photographs of men over the past week. Most of them I discard. Some I keep, but only the most attractive ones, the never-see-in-real-life hot ones. I know my choices were incredibly shallow, but I had no intentions of actually talking to any of these people. As guys began to message me, however, I realized that appearance was their motivation as well. Pick-up lines such as “You’re pretty cute,” “You’re so pretty,” “Morning cutie,” “Hey beautiful,” and such like streamed in. No wonder we are so obsessed with being attractive! Not only is a binary form of beauty impressed upon us continually by TV, movies, and magazines, but now there is phone app that lets people judge you solely based on your face. Furthermore, it is a digital picture, whenever you want, and in great quantity. It is humanly natural to reach out to people you find attractive, but instead of walking up to that person and talking to them, you only have to get a Tinder account. As Alex Lickerman M.D. from Psychology Today says, “we find ourselves…substituting electronic relationships for physical ones.”
Since Tinder is an app on smartphones, you are essentially carrying around digital images of hundreds of people in your pocket. Granted, cell phones are handy for calendars, the weather, or faking phone calls to get out of a bad date with a creep you met on Tinder. But when it comes to meeting and dating someone, it seems to me that technology can get in the way. By no means can a dating app contend with meeting someone in a coffee shop and striking up an organic conversation. The experience of talking to someone face to face will never be the same as through text messaging. To quote Psychology Today, “electronic media transmit emotion so poorly compared to in-person interaction.” I feel like the essence of a person’s personality is lost through the overuse of technology in communication. Simply the convenience of picking up your phone and finding a nearby potential date propagates another aspect of current dating, hook-up culture. As Eli Epstein from AskMen.com puts it, “After a casual date or two, the expectation is that you’re going to get laid.” While he is speaking about traditional, in-person dating, this mindset does not stop there. It has been quite clearly demonstrated to me on Tinder as well. From the classic, “I’m only in town tonight, we should hangout J” to the downright perverted, “If you come over, I’ll make breakfast. Eggs? Fried or fertilized?” Or “ do you want to sit on my face?” I have received many such messages that confirm my preconceived ideas that “dating culture” is better described as “hookup culture.” Sexuality and sexual freedom are beautiful things, however, there is a massive difference in choosing to hookup and being pressured to do so.
My experiences thus far on Tinder have been questionable, to say the least. In contrast, however, my friend who recommended it has had three dates with genuinely good guys. Maybe she has been incredibly lucky! Furthermore, I will be the first to admit that knowing someone thinks you are attractive is a large confidence boost. By design, Tinder exploits our culture’s intense interest in appearance, technology, and expectation of sex. Tinder it is like online shopping for a date. Swiping through hundreds of photographs until you find the perfect face. Although I normally advocate for trying everything once, I will not say that much for Tinder.