I wanted to start this post with a sentence that began The weird thing about Tinder is…but I realized that was probably the most ridiculous, and obvious, way to begin a thought about Tinder. So instead I give you this:
The un-weird thing about Tinder is how accurately it mimics real life. Imagine you’re at the world’s most eclectic bar (aka, another night at any bar in downtown Oakland). Scanning the room, you take in who is around you. Guy wearing wife-beater and fedora, guy in plaid shirt and hiking shoes, guy standing with a group who all are wearing suit pants so none of them seem to stand out, guy in Burner attire, guy taking a selfie while holding up a margarita – lots of different types of people, mostly single. You don’t know anything about those people other than what you see. And if you’re flying solo and are looking for a fine feathered friend, you start making a decision about who you might want to try and strike up a conversation with.
That is seriously pretty much exactly what Tinder is. A bar without the booze (or at least without the expectation that you will liquored up). You can “approach” someone (the mystical “swipe right”) and if they return the gesture, you can talk. Or not. You can exchange numbers. Or not.
[Side note: my neighbor is watching Pocahontas very loudly (she lives across the way and I can hear every word with absolute clarity). I want to sing along with my favorite song, Just Around the River Bend…would that be weird?]
I’m trying to assess what I’m learning about human nature from being on Tinder. Of course, the best subject I have for this is myself. People criticize the app for promoting a Hot or Not mentality, so I do my best to look at each photo carefully and understand why I swipe left. My first thought is usually: could I, in my wildest dreams, imagine having sex with this person? If the answer is yes, I start looking at visual cues in the photo. How is it taken? Where was it taken? What information am I gathering about the person? What do their eyes say about them?
I was texting with a friend across the country, who is also on Tinder.
Phil: I’m not keen on dating any time soon. But it’s fun to look at pretty girls who are single. But it also feels absurdly superficial. The entire purpose is to judge people based on one picture.
Me: Interesting. I guess I am me, so I am curious about what people say, and I make inferences and ask questions based on photos. It doesn’t feel that different from OkCupid. I’m not sure how interested I am in dating. I am not even sure I want to. But I feel comforted knowing there are single people out there.
Phil: I suppose you’re right. And that last point resonates with me. There seem to be a disproportionate number of late-20’s women named Lindsay, Michelle, Ashley and Jessica.**
Me: Hahaha. Those were popular 80’s names! I do find myself passing on people for pretty superficial reasons. Name of my ex or kinda looks like the guy who raped me or blurry cover photo or no solo photos.
Phil: Yeah, you’re right. “Kinda looks like the guy who raped me” is pretty superficial.
Me: In the grand scheme of things, it is. I am judging based on an experience that had nothing to with them.
Phil: Them, no. You, everything.
Fair enough, Phil. But that’s a topic for another blog post.
One thing I’ve learned about human nature is that guys are really into listing their height on their profile. Ugh, you can’t even call it a profile – it’s a blurb.*** Sometimes guys write nothing but their height, and tack on but I have no height requirements. I was baffled by this. Granted, I’m 5’2ish (recently I’ve been 5’3 some days which makes me think I grew an inch in the past 18 months which is RAD), and I’m not naive – I know many women care about how far a man’s head is from the ground.
It occurred to me men were listing it because women were asking right off the bat. So I Skyped a single coworker with my fingers crosses that he had used Tinder. He had (fist-pump!) and mentioned there were not a lot of ladies that piqued his interest in Bellingham when he’d visited (good to know for all you SF men out there. Bellingham won’t help you out, most likely). I broached the height topic with him (he’s probably 6’0? I can’t tell. Once you’re over 5’8 you could be any height to me, it’s all sort of the same. I can see up your nose. End of story) and he laughed.
Him: I’ve never been asked about my height.
Me: Really? Do you list it?
Him: No. But I’m guessing the sort of girls I attract wouldn’t ask that?****
Me: Do any guys you know list their height?
Him: Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe guys are just proud of their height? Like, it makes them seem manly? And I guess girls care about that sort of thing.
Crumbs, no closer to figuring out that mystery.
So what have I learned about humanity? I’m not sure yet. What have I learned about dating? Probably that bars aren’t going the way of the dodo anytime soon – even if all anyone starts doing at bars is using Tinder.
*As I learned the hard way, there’s also something known as YOSO – You Only Swipe Once. Swiping left when you don’t mean to means that lovely face disappears and won’t be coming back.
**I have seen so many Julien’s on the guys side. I had no idea that name was popular. Also, I omitted Phil’s Oxford comma from that transcription. Brew-ha-ha!
***For reference, my blurb says: I can be glamorous, persnickety, sexy, intelligent and savvy all at once. Often found reading on the train, crooning in the shower, listening to podcasts while running, and writing haiku in notebook margins.
****I considered begging to see his profile to figure out just what sort of girl that might be.