I was at work one fine morning when I received a message from an old school friend of mine. “Don’t judge me when you hear this….but I was on Tinder and I had to show you this!” Shortly after, a screenshot of a smiling man decked in a surfer shirt surfaced. He looked pretty familiar. It wasn’t till three seconds after realization hit me that the picture loaded to make me realize the match for her was another old friend of mine, a friend I almost dated. I was flabbergasted.
I have heard of Tinder before, but vaguely. It was an interesting concept, living their name for anonymity between the sexes and physical attraction as bait. Also known as a 90% hook up app, 10% real dating. I asked my friend for more details. How did it work? Did you meet anyone interesting? It was a long internal debate before I decided it was a social experiment to see how it was like, before I quit. After all, I was single. In my early 20’s, and curious.
In my profile, I wrote. ‘DTF FTW!’
In Singapore’s context, DTF stands for a restaurant called Ding Tai Fung, which serves really good steamed pork buns. Which I assumed was an abbreviation most Asians knew. Or at least what Singaporeans within a 50 mile radius were sure about.
What I failed to realize-to my horror, was that ‘DTF’ on Tinder actually meant, “Down to fuck?”
My friend laughed. “You mean you didn’t know what that meant?”
I hadn’t really thought it through why I was on tinder, and if I was being extremely honest, I was judging myself very often than not. I took tinder as a way of expanding my social circle; but I was consistently questioned of these intentions. Most people assumed I was in it to hook up, which was far from the case. I spoke to men mostly around my age from different sectors. And mainly because I lacked time to meet new people due to my work and school commitments, Tinder provided me that outlet to make it convenient. Extremely convenient.
I could un-match with a tap, and reply a message or two whenever I was free. Hookup requests were ignored and unmatched, together with clingy or dead end conversations. That wasn’t my purpose of tinder, but rather to just have fun. But each time I got too busy with work, I stopped replying.
In the beginning, I was worried about what my family would think. In Asia where family ties are strong, the mindset of the internet is one that is undependable, I was worried that my family would label me as desperate to find someone, and that in turn made me think twice each time I wanted to speak freely about Tinder and it’s wonders. Not to mention, the notion of it being a hook up app could spark as a line of disapproval for our conservative Chinese families. Eventually I figured that being open about it was the only way to go, and though I struggled with it, my siblings were unexpectedly, extremely cool with it. Sometimes, I could even show my brother and his fiancé the men on Tinder and laugh at interesting profile bio’s. I changed mine to funny food puns, with emojis of doughnuts, pizzas and tacos.
I met men from all walks of lives. Bankers, Social workers, policemen, artists even! What was even more amazing was the amount of exposure and understanding I got from each conversation (of the ones who were fine to have a platonic conversation with) were the experiences from the sector itself and even personal opinions on morality issues as a human being. Though not often, it was pretty fulfilling to learn something entirely new about a complete stranger.
I spoke to a few of my close friends about it, and to my surprise, most of them struggled with the way people judged them for that app.
My close friend actually hid the Tinder App under a file with other school apps on her phone. When I asked further, she said she didn’t want others to see it. Another friend’s girlfriend that he met on tinder had told him not to tell anyone they met there. In short, they were embarrassed of the app, even if they used it. Even though most of them were on it already or have played it at least once, they kept it wrapped under the covers.
We might be traditionally from Asian backgrounds, but I believe without struggle that there is no progress. With the internet, we are consistently connecting and disconnecting with others. Tinder is a great way to network with men who do not fall within your usual social circle, it creates opportunities for exposure. And if you’re considering, you could find that someone you’re looking for.
I hope this article sets out to bring awareness to the coveted tinder-ers. We need to be more open about the situation to make this a reality that forming new relationships or friendships needn’t be labeled creepy or unacceptable in our Asian contexts.
To the girls out there in Asia (and mostly Singapore), it is not a crime to be on a dating app, neither does it make you any less of a woman that you already are.
I am now off tinder for other personal reasons. But should anyone ask, I would definitely recommend them to try it out, because I am definitely, pro tinder.