It’s the newest game in town; the craze that has engaged the youth; the word on everybody’s lips. I’ve got it, you’ve got it, and your mum is probably downloading the latest update for it now. It’s Tinder, and it’s been matched with a good chunk of the human population.
This app-based phenomenon is spoken about openly in every bar, university library, coffee queue and train station. Anyone from 18 to (let’s say) 50 has a profile, usually with either a misspelt byline or whimsical quote and a handful of pixilated selfies or, stupidly, a picture with their ex-partner. It’s that trendy that if it isn’t mentioned in an upcoming episode of Girls, I’ll eat my hat.*
Modelled on a classic schoolyard game of “hot or not”, users swipe right or left for somebody they want to do something naughty with or would rather not. This is soon followed by banal conversation about nothing in particular and the cycle continues. Although there’s been some objection to this wonderfully shallow behaviour, you also have the option of seeing your potential spouse’s friends and interests – information that is drawn from Facebook. The real beauty of this is that you never know who has swiped left – was it because you enjoy winter sports, or only showed group photos, or clearly spend too much time with your dog? Ignorance is bliss.
It’s a simple truth that people no longer look up from their phones, and so meeting a partner or even making friends isn’t the same as it used to be. We may as well find the answer in that same small screen. Just as it was normal for my parents to meet in a pub, it’ll be no shock to me if a selfie and a swipe lands me a boyfriend. But why is this common, hilarious and unashamed trend so acceptable when people of my vintage grew up thinking dating websites were a product of the devil?
Somewhere around the time of VHS and when Oprah was on still on daytime telly, online dating was a niche activity for the desperate and dateless. Critics of online dating stressed about stranger danger, the expanding amount of information that people put on the net, and the plain and simple fear that being in a sexual situation with people you don’t know well is a tad frightening. Admit it – you’ve thought that people who met someone via online dating are a bit weird, or felt the need to warn a potential axe-murder victim that they shouldn’t go on that date tonight because eHarmony only attracts slovenly psychopaths. Or people who work in IT.
I think the difference between the OkCupid age and the time of Tinder is twofold.
Whereas people were probably more likely to approach a beautiful stranger with their number a few years ago, that rarely happens today. It’s now the majority that are open to engaging in an online community of singles.
As well as the change in the social trends of dating, the impression of it is definitely more positive. There’s a whole lot less commitment in an app that all your mates use – there’s no subscription fee, no pressure and no automatic assumption of just how intent you are on fucking someone or finding a partner. You get all the excitement of talking to somebody new without all the stigma.
For people who are gay or bisexual, online communities are especially fruitful (ha, get it?) as it alleviates the awkward question of another person’s sexuality if you happen to fancy them. And although the perception of online dating has devolved to embrace newcomers like Tinder, I don’t think apps like Grindr will be receiving as warm a welcome from gay singles anytime soon. Or at least, not one to be spoken about at the office water cooler.
So what are you waiting for? If you’re keen on being keen, then your Tinder-ella awaits. Just be willing to lie to your grandparents about where you met.
Note: I was not paid nor received any benefit for this piece about Tinder, but am willing to sell my integrity for cash if the L.A. developers swipe right on this article.
* I don’t wear hats, so have fun wiping the egg from your face, Lena.