7 Days Of Tinder
Tinder. It was a fun ride. It had been calling my name and I was running out of reasons to resist it’s digital match making clutches. For months I’d been entertained by stories from friends, coworkers, even family members. Those were enough to keep me amused for a while, but finally I just wanted to feel for myself the thrill of the right swipe. So here we go.
It began on the train to work. My phone held perpendicular to the ground and as close to my body as possible so bystanders couldn’t witness what was about to go down. I had my phone tilted ever so slightly so that I could view the screen and not left swipe an undeserving soul. (Aside: Why is there no undo button? Tinder, please fix.)
By the time my train rolled into the station and I lost service, the game-y quality of Tinder had done it’s job of drawing me in. And I liked it. Left-swiping makes you feel in control and right-swiping gives you hope. Getting a match…Getting a match makes you feel like you’re winning in a casino. It provides that little burst of fuel to “Keep playing” as Tinder so indiscreetly prompts you to do.
Over the course of the next few days I had nice conversations with people I never would have “met” otherwise. Like clockwork the bulk of the matches would come in around 11 p.m. when everyone, it seemed, was in bed alone, looking for someone to talk to.
Certainly not listed in order of importance, here’s what I learned on Tinder:
1. 100 miles is far. Scale it back. Or else you’ll find yourself conversing with people from Milwaukee. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
2. I have a type. Indians. With beards. My sister looked at my messages and suggested that if all I was going to do was match with Indians I should just join Shaadi.com. I cried. If you’re not sure what your type is, join Tinder. You’ll find out fast.
3. The world is tiny. Miniscule. The amount of people I came across with mutual friends and connections who intersected with mine was a little surreal. It can turn out to be beautiful coincidence or a hysterical nightmare. The kind where you laugh uncontrollably with your friends (in real life, while downing shots on St. Patty’s day) when you run right into the tangled web. The naughtiness of all makes it worth it though. Which brings me to…
4. It feels naughty. To me anyway. Not everyone sees it as a hookup app, but the fact that my friends lower our voices when we talk about it in public feels like we’re doing something wrong…dare I say, unnatural? It’s for the same reason I’d shudder at the thought of coming across friends or family members on the app. Do I left or right swipe? Tinder, tell me!
5. Tinder should partner with a screen cleaning company. Heavy Tinder usage during lunch hours, while consuming chips, created a streak that went down and left like half of a stick figure. That kind of streak won’t disappear by rubbing your phone on your pants. Get on it, Tinder.
6. As a good friend told me today - You need to know why you’re on Tinder. Whether it’s for a fling, to date or to kill time, know your purpose. And this brings us full circle to the reason I deleted my account after one week.
I had no purpose on Tinder.
I joined because I wanted to know how it worked and was curious about why it suddenly became a staple on the home screens of so many 20-somethings I knew. Except for the rare cases, here’s why:
We’re smart, career-driven and optimistic, but for the most part, we’re searching online for connections we simply don’t have time for. Tinder appears to be the perfect remedy because is easy to use and the options seem endless. However, that’s where it’s advantages end, the way I see it.
Tinder is a distraction from the things we all know we need to address in our personal lives. It gives us the false sense that we’re putting ourselves out there. It feels as though we’re being open and allowing new experiences into our lives, but rarely do conversations contained inside the app ever see the light of an actual day.
Yes, I’ve heard of relationships that started on Tinder and people who’ve become great friends with matches, but if we’re to speak about the majority of interactions within the app, it seems appropriate to say that what’s lacking is the very thing we’re most in need of: Meaning.
I’m not about to dig too deep into Tinder (though I think I already might have), but I’ll end by saying the reason I won’t use the app anymore, is because there are relationships in my life that deserve more attention than I’ve been giving them. Downloading an app, handpicking people and trying to retroactively attach some level of meaning to them, no matter how banal, is a futile effort. It’s an escape, a quick getaway, that for me, only lasted a few swipes until the next time my hands were idle.
This is after just a week of using the app. No doubt there may be nuances I’m unaware of that people who’ve used Tinder for a longer period of time could point out. I’m open to hearing other perspectives.
In the meantime, if you really want to connect in a genuine, meaningful way, first take a look at your real life relationships, including the one you have with yourself, and tend to them instead.