My brief venture into the terrifying world of Tinder was actually much more fruitful than I could have imagined. While I didn’t experience anything particularly exhilarating or lasting, I did meet some interesting people and gain a little more clarity about dating in today’s world.
1. Everybody swipes
While many have bashed Tinder for its superficiality (it doesn’t really beat around the bush with the whole “hot or not” thing), its swiping interface does bring up an interesting question: don’t we all do the same thing in everyday life? The quick, initial sweep of the room when we walk into a party, searching for someone who looks interesting? Maybe Tinder and similar platforms just do this in an outright way and speed up our process of elimination by tenfold. Of course, this is assuming we are completely skipping any and all mention of personality and talking on a purely physical level, but I’m definitely guilty of doing that in real life as well. I am by no means sold on this idea, but it does make me think.
2. You control much more than you think you do
After far too many panic-attack-moments of “Gah! Why did I say that?!”, I realized that everything is as serious or as silly as you make it. You can’t control what another person does or says (and people throw down some weird stuff on Tinder), but you can definitely control how you react to it and how you view romantic interactions in general. If something goes horribly awry in your conversation, Tinder provides a “block” option that ends all contact with that person permanently. So if things get a little too weird, you have the opportunity to end the exchange completely. Real life, while not so simple, is similar. There’s a way out of most situations, so why worry too much? Which brings me to my next point…
3. Everything is easier when you DGAF
Whether you’re binge-swiping on Tinder or interviewing for a job, everything is more fun when you aren’t super attached to the outcome. I know, that’s much easier said than done. But for the most part, the worst possible outcome of most situations isn’t too terrible. The worst-case scenario with something like Tinder (and really, a job interview as well) is that you say something that doesn’t go over well, and then…nothing happens. That’s it. It’s the same thing with meeting up with someone; you two either click or you don’t, and if you don’t…nothing happens. You’re no worse off than you were before. You can go home and watch Netflix and eat nachos and forget about it.
4. Dating is — and always will be — an absolute mess
I’ve come to realize that as much as dating sites, self-help books, and phone apps try, none can really clean up, organize, or simplify the bizarre world of dating and romance. Relationships are messy, and ultimately there are no rules (however many books, tapes, and advice-givers might tell you otherwise). I truly believe that the basics are simple: in the end, it all comes down to whether or not two people who like each other are willing to work at a relationship. But, besides that, all bets are off (especially when it comes to gray areas like casual flings and hookup culture). Humans are inherently complicated, and while apps and websites might help some people find romance, ultimately it’s up to us to sift through the real-life chaos of it all.