Chances are that if you use Tinder, you feel slightly guilty about it. However, I’m here to tell you to save your guilt for instances that actually warrant regret – like eating at Subway or watching anything starring Katherine Heigl.
Please don’t be disheartened by your self-righteous friends when you tell them that you’re meeting someone from Tinder or Bumble tonight, because frankly they aren’t any better than you. So when that one friend scoffs, and gives you that poorly disguised look of judgement, gently remind her of that time at the bar, when she had to be dragged away from that slightly older, slightly fatter version of Jake Gyllenhal.
Some people think that dating apps are shallow. But if every day life offers us any evidence, the reality is, it’s actually people who are shallow. When someone approaches you in the library, or strikes up a conversation with you in an elevator, chances are that you appreciate the unwarranted friendliness more when it comes from someone who you want to rub your body against, at the risk of making a baby.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that I’m biased, because I’m one of those unfortunates who uses Tinder. That being said, I can also concede that those who choose to abstain from dating apps raise some good points about how they may be signifying the end of “love”, as we know it. While I agree with this conclusion, I’m skeptical about the means with which it was reached. Tinder isn’t destroying relationships–we are–because we’re horny,terrible people we don’t actually want to be in them anymore, and that’s why we created Tinder.
On the other hand, dating apps do sort of resemble something out of a sci-fi movie about a dystopian civilization where it’s mandatory to wear grey jumpsuits and inject yourself with mood stabilizers. Plus, the act of actually using one can feel a little strange. You go onto your phone and you “swipe left” or you “swipe right” depending on whether you find that person attractive or not. Then, if someone you swiped right on, also swipes right on you, that means that you find each other physically attractive (or their hand slipped), and you’re connected to him, or her, over an in-app messenger, allowing you both to get to know each other without the practically marital commitment of exchanging phone numbers.
While the afore-described “match” sends dopamine surging through your veins, making you feel a little less worthless for eating the entire kitchen cabinet after getting home drunk last night, it is by all means, creepy. It’s the equivalent of someone tapping you on the shoulder while you’re waiting in line for coffee and saying, “Hi, based on the specific angle I was checking you out from, I think I would like to fuck you, or at the very least, engage in small-talk with you, until one of us sees someone else who’s more attractive.” As ridiculous as this sounds, you’re lying to yourself if you don’t think that that very sentiment is what’s underlying that screaming match conversation you’re having with a stranger at a bar.
Tinder is a way of expediting, what is already, a very shallow dating culture. This is in and of itself great, except for the fact that if your college campus, coffee shop, or doctor’s office is anything like mine, there are attractive people already all around you in real life. But you’re too busy looking at colored pixels on your phone to notice.
Dating apps are like the sluttier version of Gattaca. The process of meeting someone and feeling attraction is broken down into a coldly calculable and predictable event. While it would feel slightly synthetic to manufacture your child’s looks, intelligence, and health, you’re lying to yourself if you say that you wouldn’t want to. If you don’t know what I’m referring to pirate rent ‘Gattaca’ immediately.
However, I regress. While we all like the idea of bumping into a beautiful stranger, spilling our papers on the ground, and falling madly in love as we pick them up, life isn’t really like that. Dating someone the old-fashioned way sounds like a nice idea, but it is actually a nightmare-like drinking ayahuasca and trying to touch yourself.
Meeting someone in real life is extremely difficult. During the week, you spend most of your time at work, and assuming that you can find someone who fits your standards there, dating where you work is extremely risky. However, if you’re anything like me and you have absolutely no control over your urges, falling in love at work is bound to work out badly.
I met my last girlfriend at work and that didn’t work out, but not for the reasons that you’re thinking. We broke up after our summer jobs ended, but that’s besides the point. Being in love with someone at work was one of the worst things that could’ve happened to me.
I was constantly distracted and off-task. If I wasn’t blowing off work (during work time) to hang out with her, I was thinking of ways to impress her. In addition to the unproductivity, the drama that came along with dating a coworker was terrible. It was unfortunately nothing like Grey’s Anatomy. However, like the show, whenever there was a fight, we would go ahead and gather anyone dumb enough to actually listen to us, and regurgitate all of our insecurities all over them. However, unlike the show, it just wasn’t cute–it was fucking annoying.
So if you’re not meeting people at work because you value your career like some sort of loser, you’re left with bars and clubs. I’m still not sure why people think looking for a significant other at one these places is a good idea, but that’s just the way it is, I guess. Bars are places where people who have nothing in common, except for a hatred of their jobs, gather to get drunk. Clubs are similarly populated except they’re douchier.
That being said, for the sake of the argument, let’s say you want to meet someone while you’re going out. Chances are, it’ll go something like this: at the beginning of the night you put on your favorite outfit, and if you’re nice, you apologize to your friends because soon enough, you’re going to be ignoring them in favor of hanging-out with random strangers.
You get to the bar and your friends are already having a grand old time. That’s because they’re either dating someone, or they’re texting a friend with benefits. Either way, they’re already set to do “that night thang” once they return home. On the other hand, there’s you, all on your lonesome, standing by your morals-committed to meeting someone spontaneously.
Statistically speaking, the chances of you meeting someone you genuinely like at that specific bar, on that specific night, are abysmally low, but you’re adamant about this “chance encounter” thing, so against all better judgement, you proceed onward. Maybe you’ve seen too many Katherine Heigl movies, maybe you did one too many whip-its last New Year’s Eve. I don’t know. I’m not a psychic.
You’re standing at the bar because you don’t really want to approach anyone since that’s tacky, so you decide to wait for someone to come speak to you. An hour later the only person you’ve met is the one doing laps around the bar, throwing tired lines at anything resembling a sentient being. It’s only 10 p.m. and you know that he’s already approached every girl at the bar, but hey, you didn’t get dressed up for nothing. So when he finally comes to you, you decide to humor him, because your buzz is dying down, and you know that if you talk to him for a couple of minutes, he’ll buy you a $9, watered-down, vodka-tonic. After you’ve had enough of his social commentary and his hand petting your waist, you decide to make your exit, as gracefully as possible, and go back to your friends.
While dancing, you feel yourself getting back into your groove and you decide that you need to be assertive if you’re going to meet anyone worthwhile. While you want to have an exhilarating conversation with someone, you don’t actually know anyone at the bar, so you try to figure out who to approach but you can’t, because, again, you’ve never seen any of these people in your life. So you do the next best thing and decide to go up to the person you find most attractive, which has never ended badly…ever.
You finally work up to the courage to approach this person but he/she turns out to be at worst, a vacant, pretty, face or at best, not your type. At this point you have a couple of options: dance with your friends, just fuck someone you find attractive, or text that ex-fling who you never really liked, but who makes you feel less lonely.
Are dating apps really in danger of ruining this treasured sequence of events for everyone? That was a rhetorical question – of course not. Yes, I know I’m being harsh, but I do also recognize the irony in criticizing the dating culture for being shallow, while, as a young man, profiting from it. Though many millennials complain about the dismal dating scene, they fail to recognize how they’re the ones who’ve created it. Dating now feels strange because we’ve made it that way, and complaining about it is like lamenting about having to choose between going to Coachella or going to Cabo for Spring Break. If that analogy wasn’t clear enough for you, I’m saying that there’s no real fuckin’ problem here.
Dating apps aren’t going to replace human interaction, they’re just going to accent it, just like every other technology that’s ever been created. If we were alive 100 years ago dating would obviously be different, because, hell– everything was different. There were few phones, no text messaging, no social media, and no women’s rights. No wonder people married the first person they met – half of them didn’t really have a choice.
So next time nana’s telling you about the first time her and pop-pop met at a diner, take the story with a grain of salt. Please understand that the diner that they were at was probably racially segregated, and know that the way he approached her, would probably constitute sexual harassment by today’s standards–and as painful as it may be–admit to yourself that what pop-pop felt when he approached your nana wasn’t “love at first sight.” It was randiness and youthful confidence.
There’s no question that dating is less structured nowadays, but is that really a bad thing? If text messaging allows you to have simultaneous conversations with multiple people you may want to date, doesn’t that only increase your chances of connecting with someone? Nowadays, people aren’t any more dishonest or promiscuous then they were 50 years ago, they just have more options.
Tinder didn’t create creepy people (men). It just made it easier to meet them. The problem isn’t dating apps, it’s that most people suck, and this unfortunately holds true for attractive people as well. Some use dating apps to send dick pics, or to verbally harass people that become uninterested. While this is a big problem–considering how prominently these dating apps are used, it would be nearsighted to say that unwanted attention is something that’s only found on Tinder. This isn’t a dating app problem, it’s a human problem, and it needs to be fixed.
Women are catcalled and harassed in everyday life, without the help of dating apps, and there’s a reason why many women don’t feel comfortable walking home alone after a party. Yes, it’s funny to joke about all the creeps on Tinder, but frankly, it’s scary to think about how well this person might have hidden his intentions if you met him out at a bar. The phone-to-phone interaction enables people to be less reserved, which can be a good and a bad thing. Someone who gets nervous talking to strangers at bars, might reveal himself to be a genuine and hilarious person, but you may have never gotten the chance to find that out, if you met him first in “real life.” Others use this opportunity to let their creepiness shine through in full majesty.
At it’s core, Tinder is just a tool that expedites the process of meeting people. Tinder allows us to actually interact with people we would otherwise just be staring at and this is an amazing thing. If you simply want to talk to new people, dating apps can help you to do that. If you want to find someone to seriously date, dating apps can also help you do that. If you have simple tastes, and you just want to find someone to put yogurt in your butt while calling you Gandalf, as long as it’s consensual, dating apps can help you do that too. Like real life, it’s about how you approach it and keeping your cool as you sift through the duds.