The other weekend I was lying on the couch with two of my girlfriends watching The Source Family—a documentary about a cult in Los Angeles that involved wearing lots of chic flowy dresses and fucking a weird fat guy named Father Yod—and I noticed that I was the only one paying attention to it.
“You guys,” I hissed at my friends from across the room. “You’re going to miss the part where Father Yod eats a hamburger and goes paragliding!”
They could’ve cared less about Father Yod’s paragliding journey. They were too busy shooting up a drug I like to call Single Person Heroin. Its street name is Tinder and it comes in the form of a dating app that allows you to peruse the profiles of nearby singles. You swipe right if you’re interested and swipe left if they look like Joe Pesci.
In my opinion, straight people aren’t built to handle Tinder. Gay guys have been “swiping left or right’ since we came out of the womb. We understand the art of rejecting and rejection. Straights, on the other hand, aren’t used to behaving so cutthroat island. Since my girlfriends have joined Tinder, they’ve turned into psychotic dating zombies. My best friend, Kate, goes on a date with a new person almost every night and she’s always texting with at least ten guys. Recently Kate left our friend’s birthday party early so she could ride on some guy from Tinder’s motorcycle. She came back two hours later feeling satisfied, like she had just scratched an itch.
“Babe,” I screamed at her. “You can’t just ride on some stranger’s motorcycle! You’re going to end up inspiring an episode of Law & Order: SVU!”
“He’s not a stranger,” she explained. “We have six mutual friends on Facebook!”
Both Kate and my other girlfriend Sammy have deleted and reactivated their Tinder accounts multiple times. I’m telling you, it’s a new drug epidemic. Tinder provides them with instant validation from the opposite sex, which, as it turns out, is more addictive than consuming an eight ball of Diet Coke.
So what is Tinder’s purpose exactly? To find someone, fall in love, and move into a split-level home in Glendale? You’d think so. You’d think that would be the point of any dating app but with Tinder it feels more like a game. In fact, when you match with someone on Tinder, it gives you the option to either message them or “Keep Playing.” That phrasing always struck me: Keep playing. Because that’s what this is — Tinder is the Monopoly of the Millennial generation — but instead of moving around a metal horseshoe and collecting property, you’re collecting human beings. And unless you actually do meet the love of your life, Tinder has no real winners, no tangible end goal. Like, when do you feel finished? When you have 300 matches and have gone on over a hundred dates with people who cannot and will not ever understand you? It seems like the more technology infringes upon our dating life, the less we have a dating life. People become disposable. They get traded in like Pogs. If a date doesn’t pan out, there’s someone else a swipe away. It’s the dating equivalent of bingeing on junk food. It feels good in the moment but once the excitement fades away, you’re stuck with a stomachache and a flare up of your IBS.
You know who LOVES Tinder more than anybody else? People in relationships. OMG, their absolute favorite thing to do is to hijack one of their single friend’s Tinder profiles and start swiping and messaging people. To them it really IS just a game. There’s no consequences, no feeling of dread that comes with accidentally swiping left on someone you’re convinced could’ve been the love of your life. It’s very telling when a dating app is most enjoyed by people who aren’t single.
Now, full disclosure: I have Tinder. As of July 17, 2014, I have received 123 matches but I’ve only gone on a date with one of them. It was a guy I’d met before in passing so technically we didn’t “meet” on Tinder but whatever. We went on a date and had a gay ol’ time. He was nice, funny, charming, and cute. We didn’t kiss at the end, which, in my experience, usually means no second date, but we still texted afterwards to be like, “I had a great time, blah blah, blah.” The last thing he texted me was “More dates to come.” When I got that text, I knew it wasn’t true but I can’t really pinpoint why. However, I know that in today’s dating culture, it’s very tempting to bail on something that doesn’t feel immediately satisfying. It’s easier to go than wait for those “more dates to come.” After all, you have some swiping to do and messages to ignore.