have a little tinder-ness: the pros and cons of a mobile dating app
Just as Dr Frankenstein aimed to create the perfect man, my friends led me to dating app Tinder to have fun and/or find a decent one. And thus, we were all confronted with monsters. There is much to say about Tinder: it’s quick, it’s anonymous, it can be fun, but it also has a bit of a dark side.
For those of you who are confused by how all this Tinder business works, I have removed myself from the rock I’ve been living under so that you do not have to vacate the comfy base of yours – unless you really want to. Tinder pulls data semi-anonymously from your Facebook profile and allows you to like or reject people in a certain kilometre radius from yourself.
To ascertain interest, you’re shown a name, picture and the age of Romeo/Juliet, but if you want to know more you can have a quick perusal of their Tinder profile which will show any mutual Facebook friends, interests, other photos and a quick bio. If you both like each other, you’re matched and can start talking. If one party doesn’t rate the other, there is no hurt or rejection because notifications only come through when (potential) lovers’ likes align – huzzah!
The premise of the app’s creation is to harvest the fruits of the information age and create a non-threatening environment to meet people, Tinder CEO Sean Rad told Business Insider. ‘If you’re someone who’s hunting for a relationship, there’s this constant sense of rejection when not everyone you want to meet is open to meeting you back,’ Rad said. ‘As the hunted, you feel very overwhelmed and that there’s this massive sense of noise. That dynamic is an inhibitor.’
Rad has a point. People I have spoken to become high on the power Tinder offers to so blatantly knock back a would-be lover (guilty). They also become high on the vanity of having a match (doubly guilty). Swiping your potential lover’s profile from right to left will stamp it with a big, red ‘NOPE’, which occasionally feels good, especially given all the times I have personally approached a guy with a few beers under my belt only to be rejected in some derogatory manner. Yes, thankfully, I still have faith in humanity and a libido.
Despite resulting in approximately 50 engagements during the first few months of its launch, the primary focus of the Tinder app seems to be casual hook-ups, connoted by its basic profiles and game-like setup. That being said, there is a vast array of talent on Tinder. It seems to be used for shits and giggles by people who superimpose their faces on images of figures such as Napoleon, as well as to find friends, love or the aforementioned quick fuck.
The hook-up is of course the basis of the kilometre radius feature and the basis of a lot of, um, interesting propositions. For example, I was asked to ‘come over’ by men on numerous occasions for a variety of reasons, including watching porn on some dude’s new television. No ‘hey, how are you?’ No ‘wow, you’re into Nirvana, cool beans.’ Just straight up solicitation. Still, I haven’t been confronted by as many creeps as the gal who runs How to Lose a Guy in one Tinder and reclaims the app with her own creep-tastic hilarity.
I think that in this sense, bar my personal reservations by such propositions, it allows people to negotiate consent safely in their own space. From what I understand, it is easy enough to block people, as per other social media platforms. This is not something I say to excuse sexual harassment and trolling over the app, because that shit is inexcusable. Nevertheless, if you want a casual hook-up, you can negotiate the terms and conditions easily. Ditto if you want to date.
It seems not all sexual orientations and genders can negotiate consent freely on the app, though. Tinder works on an assumption that the ‘male’/'female’ binary is a thing and so has been occasionally criticised for issues in catering to members of the LGBTIQ community. As such, a number of similar apps have developed, such as Grindr and Brenda for gay men and women, to address these dating market niches. Overall though, Tinder has received much credit in the straight world for its ability to let people anonymously and safely get what they want out of the system.
But what have I learnt personally from this experience as a straight person? Despite being asked to go on several dates via Tinder – totally not bragging … Okay, maybe a little – I haven’t found much happiness with it. This is mainly because media interpretations of romantic love fill me with considerable anxiety about the real life comparison of my digital self. That is, I write and photograph more eloquently and elegantly than I present in real life and I freak out that I won’t be as appealing in the flesh. As such, I chose to knock these dates back. I think this is more a testament to my character than a reflection of the app.
In spite of my reservations, here are a few tips for the brave on Tinder:
1. Don’t drink and like. Any regrets you may have about an ugly partner the morning after meeting someone also apply to Tinder, albeit they are more easily dealt with by the cone of silence.
2. Limit yourself to ten swipes a day to avoid bombardment by horny persons. Unless that’s what you want. In which case: go for it!
3. Don’t turn into a monster like me and forego a proper profile check. You may just decline someone too quickly and realise they like The Australian Greens and Destroy the Joint just as they’re gone forever (eternal depression).
Put simply: Tinder goes alright. Beyond issues of harassment, which can be dealt with by simply blocking users who don’t prove to be as interesting as you’d thought, there are many capabilities to safely organise a romantic/sexual encounter. I wonder if in future this app could mitigate sexually aggressive behaviours in public spaces such as bars by directing attention to only ‘matches’?
Editor’s Note: This article has been written from a heterosexual woman’s perspective. At Lip we would love to hear your thoughts on Tinder, or its LGBTIQ cousins, Grindr, and Brenda, from a queer perspective.
If you are compelled to write on your experiences for Lip, contact Ruby Grant, our Features Editor at News@lipmag.com. Or share your views/experiences with us in the comments below!