Picture one of those classic “Girls Night In” scenes you always see in cheesy made-for-TV movies – girls in comfy but sexy PJs, an overabundance of Chinese takeout, and a delicate mix of junk TV and top 40 music on repeat in the background as the hours were wasted away talking about boys. That was exactly what my Saturday night looked like, except it had a modern twist – Tinder. That’s right, the social media app being used by today’s youth to find potential new friends, quick hook-ups, or future significant others had managed to sneak its way into my sacred ritual bonding event.
For the record, I had no real business getting a Tinder. I’m in a happy and healthy relationship with an amazing guy, and even though the last three months have been a little less than ideal with him studying abroad in India, our relationship is far too strong to ever entertain the idea of cheating. But here I was, sitting around all my girlfriends as they excitedly swiped left and right, compared guys’ profiles with one another, and waited for a match notification to light up on their phones. I couldn’t help but feel so left out from the central conversation taking place. A big part of me was also extremely curious. Being so removed from dating culture, I was dying to delve into Tinder in the hopes of seeing what fish were still out in the sea and getting a better understanding of how my peers were interacting with one another. So, after spending 15 minutes carefully selecting Facebook photos of myself and crafting a witty bio, I set out on an unpredictable journey. It started out rather tame, but it quickly turned into a very insightful experience.
The variety and quality of men I found genuinely shocked me at first. There were UPenn athletes, investment bankers, aspiring scientists from Drexel, free-spirited artists, Temple law students, and everything in between. It soon became clear to me why a lot of my single friends were addicted; it was a treasure trove of some of the hottest, smartest, most desirable bachelors in the area. And for the most part, a lot of these guys were looking for romantic relationships. Many of these profiles talked about searching for Tinderella and being willing to lie about how they met these potential Tinderellas. It wasn’t until I started interacting with these men, however, that I realized that they were just too good to be true.
I got 112 matches in about one week. I made a point to never reach out and talk to a single match unless they reached out to me first, which 26 did. Out of these 26, 18 started the conversation by making sexual comments. For example, one charmer asked if he could “lick Nutella off of me”… needless to say I never responded. Another young stud left nothing to interpretation when he sent me a text that simply read “Sex?” Naturally, he got blocked. When I started asking my girlfriends if this experience was common, I was overwhelmed with one horror story after another of guys sending them similar requests to “sit on their face” or “get on all fours.”
I had some sense of just how pervasive hook-up culture was becoming, but I wasn’t aware of how crippling it was to the dating scene. For some reason, these guys, many talking about looking for that dream girl, thought it was okay to start a conversation in such an explicit manner. Not only are these comments not a turn on to about 90% of the girls I talked to, they also speak to a larger issue of how people are beginning to value sex more than a genuine relationship that can sustain you far longer than a quick hook-up ever could.
The problem with Tinder is that it allows people to edit and manipulate their photos and bios as a way of appearing as a perfect, enhanced version of themselves. (Or worse – taking the good ol’ Catfish approach and appearing as someone completely different). On top of this, hiding behind an online profile gives people the brazen ability to be as openly dirty-minded as they would like. Had we met in person, none of those 18 guys would have ever initially said any of those things to me, and that is exactly how it should be. Ultimately, Tinder doesn’t work for most people because it simply cannot compare to the effectiveness of a live, in-person conversation.
Face-to-face communication and genuine conversation is truly a beautiful thing. It gives us the chance to be who we really are and be accepted for that. It also gives us the opportunity to make deeper, longer lasting connections with others that will make us far happier than endlessly swiping left or right for a dream girl or guy that we know deep down just doesn’t exist on Tinder. It’s about time this generation stepped away from the screens and embraced actually talking in person to one another again.