I’ve never really gotten into online dating before, not that I judge anyone who gets down on the digital get-down. I think at this point, the stigma has dissipated, at least to the point where my friends don’t feel obligated to lie when they ditch me during coffee to go hook up with someone from Grindr (at 11am, you shameless junkie.) Even still, cyber courtship, by its nature, takes away too many of the initial, nervous, puke-inducing parts of mating rituals and puts them in a safe, sterile glass box. Online dating sites, and now mobile apps, offer singles the chance to get rejected swiftly, from the solitude of their own homes, without having to waste a night of buying drinks, trying to be witty while shouting over loud music, and running to the bathroom every 20 minutes to make sure your makeup isn’t running down your face from the heat produced by dozens of other gross people trying to similarly beguile each other into getting naked.
In other words, I get the appeal of digital dating. That said, for whatever pathological social masochism this probably implies, I have an undying fondness for the excruciating process of meeting someone and spending the next few hours/day/weeks trying to coyly ascertain how they feel about you, while simultaneously try to maintain the impossible line of being clear, yet subtle about your newly sprung crushy feelings about them. It’s completely terrible, and completely the best, most irreplaceable thing. Except that for many people, it has been replaced, at least in part, by online dating, where you are able to know a person has some degree of attraction to you before you ever allow the vulnerability of a physical meeting. It’s a very logical arrangement, and my lack of interest in dating this way is keeping very much in line with my inglorious habit of using almost no logic at all in my romantic/sexual behavior.
I’ve always felt that the butterflies (the crack of emotions; makes you jittery and insane, but so addicting) you feel with some new person you like are largely a product of being uncertain about their feelings about you. In online dating, are you relegated to only experiencing those anxious, wonderful butterflies alone in front of your computer screen, as opposed to contributing that sparkly energy to an actual encounter with someone else? Do you experience that at all? Is online dating a practice in sacrificing butterflies for security? These aren’t judgments so much as they are actual questions I have. I can’t imagine giving up that first electric spark that occurs when someone new triggers you, and you both get this look where you know it is now on, and everything that comes after that. And I can’t fathom that magic can take place through a computer or phone.
My mobile sex savvy friends recently alerted me to the existence of Tinder, an online dating app, which I quickly understood was designed to allow for the fastest, more superficial judgments, and rapid-fire rejections of singles near you, based on as little information as possible. You first see just one picture, and if it makes your genitals jump up inside your body to hide, you can exile their asses based just on that. If you want to know more about this person, you have the option of seeing up to 4 additional pictures, plus whatever mutual Facebook friends and interests you two might have. Other than a tagline where they can tell you their dick size or how they like to “live each day to the fullest! no fatties”, that’s pretty much all you get. I love it! Perfectly reductive, which explains both its wild popularity and the abundance of douchebags I would later find there. Sign me up, tell me more, please don’t talk to me.
Since this uncharted dimension of modern single life has remained deliberately foreign to me, but was now bleeding casually into the lives of more and more of my friends, I figured it was time to dive in and see what the shit the appeal was. When I decided to experiment with Tinder, I guess I should’ve realized that there had to be some component to the whole thing that facilitated actual communication. But I got distracted by power-tripping on the super fun, lightning-fast judging (“Ugly! So ugly! Cute but dumb hat! I like your dog but so much spray tan! You’re drinking Michelob Ultra hahaha REJECTED!”) I was caught off guard when people started messaging me with such soul-baring, thought-provoking, panty-dropping conversation starters like “’Sup?” and “I like yr lips”.
Feeling my faith in humanity desperately begging me to stop kicking it in the balls and watch a Wes Anderson movie or something equally restorative and life-affirming, I was pretty much done with Tinder very quickly. But before I hastily deleted this hellish window into the desolate black hole of dating that is a 10 mile radius around me, I made some notes on some of the more memorable snap judgments I had the considerable pleasure of getting to make. Enjoy and good luck!
- Looks like Russell Crowe but uses the word “redonculous” in tagline.
- Profile picture: jump action shot in groomsman tux, is named “Dunc” which is too redunculous a (totally fake non-)name to fuck with.
- Profile picture: him kissing dolphin at Sea World, delighted in a seemingly un-ironic, “dolphins are majestic and I am communing with them” kind of way. He is 42 years old, which is approximately 30 years too old for this to be acceptable.
- Nothing but photos of himself with his much-more-attractive friends. Thanks for the reminder to never settle. (Note: It’s overwhelmingly likely that this guy was my soul mate and I will now go on to have a string of emotionally unfulfilling relationships with decent-enough people who are, like, great on paper/in bed, but with whom I can never quite reach that ultimate degree of connection, like an itch you can’t scratch but instead of it being in the impossible-to-reach part of your back, it’s on your FEELINGS, and I will die alone after a lifetime of being driven slowly mad by the constant irritation of never finding He Who Could Scratch My Feelings, all because my superficial ass rejected this guy based on nothing more than his being relatively less attractive than a bunch of hot dickheads he happened to take a picture with.)
- THAT’S NOT A PHOTO OF YOU. THAT’S MICHAEL VARTAN. Wait, are you Michael Vartan?
- Fedora count: 8
- Pictures all appear to be promo shots for porn, including one with that girl who played Vanessa on Gossip Girl, but that might be wishful porn dreaming.
- Photoshopped himself as a centaur and appears to take it seriously, and no, I can’t explain that better.
- A great many of your profile pictures feature you holding dead animals in your hands, which you appear to have proudly killed.
- Your tagline is “Enjoy the ride!!!!” which is YOLO for old people.
- Profile picture: Sipping a strawberry daiquiri and wearing a tan suit while giving a seductive stare that says, “Let me tell you about this one time at a Jimmy Buffett concert.” Name: TRIBBLE.
- Slept with him three years ago. (But now that I think about it, he was really fun, so despite the obvious “been there, done that” blues coming across him on here gives me, he’s still the most solid “maybe” in a sea of “fuck no”.)
- Oh hey, he sold me weed in high school. Shitty weed, if I recall correctly, which I do because I never forget the face of an asshole who sells me bunk pot.
- Haircut can only be accurately described as The Rachel, but red.
- Man Ellen Degeneres. Mellon Degeneres? Magellan Degeneres?
- Well, his name is Zoltan, and he looks like the love child of Nicolas Cage and a stepdad.
- Fedora count: 17
- Tagline is lyrics from “Blurred Lines”. This is everything I could’ve hoped/dreaded to find when embarking on this ill-fated journey to the bleak depths of the dating pool.
- Points for looking like that Elvis-y transdude from The L Word, but you’re obsessed with dubstep? This is all too confusing.
- Drinking Muscle Milk in flashed-out mirror selfie. Tank top, naturally. GTL does not make me DTF.
- Benefit of the doubt, maybe you’re divorced. Either way, not a terrible idea to pick a dating profile picture without your wedding ring prominently displayed.
- Dude wearing flip-flops in front of the Louvre, I loathe you the most. May you contract all the foot fungi.
- Stop everything: 26-year-old says he’s on tour with Bruno Mars. Profile pictures include: him sitting on top of an impressive mountain looking impressive, him riding in a private jet like it’s not a thing, him wearing gold headphones while posing next to a really amped-up looking capuchin monkey who is wearing what I can only guess is a North Korean military uniform but, like, tiny monkey sized. This is probably as good as it’s going to get. This guy probably wins all of Tinder, and I still feel nothing, ya know, clitorily for him. I think I’m done here.