By Alexa Day
I underwent a brief experiment with Tinder some time ago as research for a presentation I made at a Girls’ Night Out event. I’d never been on Tinder before, although I had a decent idea what to expect, and although nothing truly unpleasant happened (by which I mean that I received neither dick pic nor vulgar message), I don’t feel the need to return to Tinder. I don’t have any strong feelings for or against it, I suppose. It just is.
I am aware of confusion regarding the actual purpose of Tinder, though. I don’t understand how it can be confusing. It uses your Facebook profile to put you into the pool of users active at the same time in the same area, and then you swipe right if you’re interested in them and left if you’re not. There’s just not very much to Tinder. How confusing can it possibly be?
I suspect the disconnect lies with people who think of Tinder as a dating app. Don’t misunderstand me — I do know people who are actually dating the people they meet on Tinder. But these success stories do not transform Tinder into a relationship app, unless we are willing to radically redefine the words “dating” and “relationship.”
Vanity Fair recently released an article linking Tinder to the “Dating Apocalypse.” I was intrigued, especially after my thankfully brief experience with Tinder, so I went to check it out.
The story held few surprises. A group of guys brags about the number of Tinder-facilitated hookups they’ve had. Women express their varying degrees of disappointment with the hookups, including a fairly high incidence of erectile dysfunction one might not expect from twentysomething-year-old men. None of it makes Tinder feel like a pleasant experience. Its most successful users are those … well … reptilian guys, and women don’t seem to speak fondly of it at all. Tinder had a bit of a corporate Twitter freakout following the article. I guess they didn’t get the memo about not responding to unfavorable reviews.
But is Tinder responsible for a “Dating Apocalypse”? I have to say no. Tinder cannot be responsible for a “Dating Apocalypse” because Tinder has little to do with dating. To say that Tinder threatens dating is like saying that fast food is a threat to steakhouses.
I think dating is going to survive Tinder for a couple of reasons.
First, I think enough people understand that Tinder is not about dating. Dating is about more than swiping one way or the other as fast as one can. It’s a time-consuming process that involves a surprising amount of intellect and emotion, but people interested in dating don’t mind the investment. Well, not much. In short, people who want to actually date other people are probably seeking out other resources to get that taken care of. At least, I hope they are.
Secondly, I think the people who just want to engage in the venerable sport of Hit It and Quit It are perfectly happy with Tinder and apps like it, so they’re avoiding the dating scene altogether. That’s good news, too. I personally couldn’t get past the whole personal safety/Stranger Danger thing, but I’m not going to get in anyone’s way, either.
In between these two groups of people, however, there lies a third faction of folks who think Tinder is representative of the current state of romantic relationships. Among their concerns about the world of dating: the upsurge in vulgar, sexual, overly familiar texts from people they’ve just met. I understand their worry. How many times can you get a text that invites you to “come over and sit on my face” before you decide something is wrong with the world in general?
Let’s go one question further, though.
Why does this person feel comfortable sending a text inviting a total stranger to “come over and sit on my face”?
Because at some point, a woman responded by coming over to sit on his face.
Put simply, this conduct persists because at some point, it worked.
None of this requires us to buy into that system. If we want dating to continue, all we have to do is continue dating. If we don’t want to get caught up in the cycle of #ByeFelipe messages, all we have to do is be more judicious with our contact info.
The system won’t work perfectly at first. Felipe is going to get through every so often. But with a little persistence and a lot of patience, we can keep our corner of the world safe for dating. Apocalypse never.
How we rid dating of its own particular set of annoyances is another topic entirely.
Are you following Lady Smut? We’ll swipe right for you. Promise.