Tinder – Ruining Romance?
Sometime during my sixth grade Valentine’s Day dance, I asked Jessica Gude to dance with me.
I crossed the bedazzled “cafe-torium” and nervously mumbled an introduction. Our braces reflected the glow of the disco ball, forcing both of us to squint and wince, a possible advantage considering I wore a suit purchased at the hospital’s thrift store, of which its past owner was very old, very dead and had terrible taste.
Possessing the sexual confidence of a marshmallow Peep, I held my hands high above her waist and began to sway with the grace of an arthritic mannequin to the mid ’70s hit “Hotel California,” a less than sensual ode to purgatory.
Later that night, I sat in the backseat of our ’95 Mercury Villager, high on exhilaration and pre-pubescent anxiety, and asked my mother how she and my father had met.
“He was a bouncer at the Deer Park, and I was there dancing with some friends.”
My parents met in a bar. They saw each other, they locked eyes and “Dream Weaver” began to play on the jukebox. Or so I assume.
This is typical. You meet in a bar, your friends know somebody or you introduce yourself to a stranger on the subway. However, in the next couple of decades, or possibly even a few years from now, children will be met with a different answer to this eternal question. Instead of a cute anecdote, they’ll be greeted with uncomfortable silence, awkward muttering and an explanation of the term “swiping right.”
Soon we will see the rise of Tinder tots and Bumble babies. Children sprung from the loins of the Internet.
Used by 50 million people globally with 12,000 matches a day, Tinder is the dating app sweeping the nation. Forty-five percent of its clientele are between 25-34, a common age among dating sites. However, 38 percent are between the ages of 16-24. That’s students, mostly — in college or fresh out.
Tinder is a binary system. You either swipe left or you swipe right. You’re either Romeo or a medieval executioner. No one is spared and everyone is judged. And what are they going off of? About five pictures and 50 characters. A short and sweet bio announcing how fun, funny, interesting, cool and definitely, most certainly, not a creep. Once a user is matched, they are then given the option to message. More often than not, this begins with a cheesy pickup line that hopefully leads to a phone number that hopefully leads to coffee or a drink.
It is simple, painless and disgusting. It’s false interaction. Regardless of the “match” there’s no true connection. It’s just a floating face. Granted, dating sites can do wonders for the busy adult, but students who are constantly surrounded by other students, with almost endless opportunities for social opportunities, seem to be turning to technology.
So, why is the average social college student turning to Tinder? We have given in to the sweet relief of instant gratification. It’s a testament to the ego of the generation that created the selfie. We want likes on Instagram. We want Snaps. We want matches. We want fast food interaction. We want confirmation that we have value, that somebody, somewhere, a living sentient being thinks I’m cute. Or maybe they just swiped on accident.
Tinder for dating is like McDonald’s selling salads. It’s on the menu, and it’s possible that someone could potentially buy the salad…but let’s be honest, your go-to option is the burger. And sex is Tinder’s Big Mac. All 2,000 calories of it. But it isn’t even sex. It’s the idea of sex. It’s the possibility of sex. It’s a perfect stroke for the ego, collecting likes and matches like Pokémon.
You are hidden behind a screen, free from social norms, free from judgement and free from fear. But at what cost? To be free from reality. Tinder is a replacement for genuine human interaction.
Unfortunately, like Internet porn or daytime soap operas, anything that provides even the most minimal opportunity for sexual interaction tends to last. And it doesn’t seem like Tinder is going to be dying down anytime soon. But look outside. Pick your head up from above your phone, and say “hello” to the person next to you. Look, I’m not saying you’ll fall in love. That person might even be crazy. But at the very minimum, doesn’t a natural interaction make a better story?