Yeah, I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to Tinder.
I was introduced to the application by a recently-divorced friend last spring — he was using it as a way to hook up with random women in the neighborhood, but told me I should download it just for the entertainment value. When I opened the app on my phone, I knew exactly what he meant.
To call Tinder a dating app is reductive. It’s so much more than that. And so much less.
The application connects with your Facebook account in order to pull your age, your friends list, and the photos of your choice. You set your preferences (age range, distance…yes, it also tracks your GPS coordinates, gender), and then you get to see cards with images of people within your parameters. Find one you want to see more of, and click on it to reveal additional images, the friends you have in common, the person’s distance from you (the last time she/he logged in), and a few words (or many) of self-description.
But I don’t know how many guys actually read that stuff.
If you come across someone who seems intriguing, click the heart icon (or swipe to the right). The vast majority of the time, you’ll click the giant X, or swipe left. The key, though, is that you only get connected with people who also heart your profile. So nobody knows if you’ve liked their profile until they’ve liked yours.
In the first iteration of Tinder, there was no way to set an age range of whom you’d like to see. Which was part of its charm, because most of the train wrecks were in the under-25 range. Each subsequent set of images was increasingly disturbing, hilarious, or just unfortunate.
What’s sort of awesome is that, even though I have set more appropriate parameters in my own preferences, there is no paucity of “Holy crap, why would you post that?” photos from women closer to my age. In fact, that, more than any sense of possibility for finding that one right girl, is what makes Tinder so addictive for me.
The interface is a brilliant scaling down to the basics — if you’re attracted to the person in the photos, then you swipe to the right and move on to the next profile. It’s the equivalent of scanning a room and finding several attractive possibilities. If you make eye contact, and the admiration is mutual, then you start talking. If not, you move on to someone else. Things may go well, or they may go very, very wrong; you know nothing about this person beyond what you see and whether you have mutual friends. The rest is up to chemistry.
And, yes, I’ve had my share of fun/interesting dates via the app — made some new friends, met some disasters, and may have even drummed up a new client for my company. It’s fun launching Tinder in a new city and finding out what’s going on there. Helena, Montana was an eye-opener. But that’s not why you’ll find me laying in bed at night after a long day, swiping through the profiles. I’m not trying to find my match…I’m enjoying the circus sideshow.
5 Rules for Tinder:
- Don’t post a bunch of photos with you and your girlfriends. Sure, one is nice, to show that you’re fun-loving. But if we can’t tell which one is you, then you’re asking for a big leap of faith. Especially if all of your friends are hotter than you are. Ohhhh….now I get it.
- Yes, you love your dog. We understand. If you’re going to post an image of your pup, it would be nice to have you sharing the frame. Also, one of those is enough.
- Action photos are fun, to show that you’re active and fit. But having every photo with you at a distance, in a shadow, or wearing a helmet and goggles, doesn’t bode well.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever post photos of your children. Either with you or on their own. We understand that you want to establish that you’re a mom; we appreciate that. But when you share photos of your kids with countless unknown men who are looking to score, that tells us you’re either woefully unsophisticated, wildly unbalanced, or just don’t care about your children’s security and safety. There’s no good reason to put a kid’s face on a dating app.
- Pick photos that are flattering. That one with you and four extra chins because you’re looking down at the camera? The other one where you’re made up like a zombie? The grimace, the moue, the squint? No, no, no. Tinder isn’t about the real you…it’s about looking good enough to get the mutual right swipe and taking it from there.
We’re guys. We may read your bio after we’ve established that you’re cute enough to warrant another look, but if you don’t give us the visual cues we need, we’re going to left-swipe you into oblivion.
Yes, yes, we’re all left-swiped the vast majority of the time. Like I said — I’m not on Tinder because I’m looking for action. I can get a date without the help of GPS.
But if you want to keep me entertained, keep posting those poorly framed, duck-face cleavage shots with the crying toddler behind you. As long as you continue doing that, I will keep the app on my phone.
And swipe. Left.