My younger brother had one question for me when he landed in Spain for a visit. He was twiddling about with his iPhone 5c, a slightly tragic expression on his face. I looked down at the phone, and saw an anonymous, smiling face, as well as the telltale x and check mark glistening below the illuminated lady.
“How can I meet ladies in Spain?” he asked, clutching the phone like it was the gateway to many hours of Iberian lovemaking. “Is Tinder better in Europe?”
The second question I had a clear-cut answer for. And it was yes, as I’ve witnessed a mass exodus to the Tinder-verse since its inception, and very few couplings outside the popular app in comparison. According to contacts I have back in the states, there’s a myriad of different digital dating appliances to be used for booty conjuring, but from what I can glean, all eyes here are fixed on Tinder and its older cousin Grindr.
For the first question, all I could do was refer him to the second. However, there was a problem. All of his photos were goofy. Now, I love my little brother, he’s an artistic genius with wild talents beyond what I could comprehend vis a vis the visual aesthetic, but his Facebook profile would have you believe he’s one silly dude. And silly photos have no place on Tinder. Two females I know very well took one look at the available photos and said, “We have to update these Facebook pictures immediately.”
For anyone who’s never used Tinder, good on you, but yeah, it mines the most superficial Facebook data for their micro profiles.
“I’m a slow burn,” my brother joked, which was more tragic than comedic the more the comment settled. Tinder, among other apps like it, makes the process of romance look tedious and outmoded. Users can get addicted to the possibility of infinite hook-ups and couplings and sexual experimentation, all available via fingers swiping a screen in one of two directions. I’ve read stories online and heard similar ones firsthand about relationships failing because of the perceived unending choice technology like Tinder affords the user.
This is not to say that Tinder is some sort of devil. It has an obvious utility; sometimes, time can be wasted getting to know the wrong person, but on the flipside, you don’t have to perceive that as time wasted. So you didn’t get exactly what you wanted from another human; it’s not the end of the world or your sex life as you know it.
Anyway, back to my brother. So far, a few pictures have been taken and uploaded to Facebook, and soon they’ll find their way to his Tinder profile. Once that happens, the addictive monotony of swiping through faces and ten word descriptions will continue. Maybe there’ll be a match, and some obvious but still awkward banter, and maybe even a meeting for a coffee, beer, or “roll in ze hay” if the banter goes well. But after that? Tinder slingshots you superficially through a getting to know you process that’s always weird, but it’s impossible to learn everything about a potential mate with robotic aid. It’s kind of a seemingly suave way around the first few steps, and may even lead to intimacy, but weirdness will come, and it’ll appear like an unexpected sledgehammer.
Here’s what I think my brother should do. First, he should take down his nice pictures and refill his profile with wacky faces of a slightly tortured, comedically tragic artist who enjoys maudlin cartoons. Then, he should utilize Tinder the same as everyone else, swiping ladies right into an imaginary matches box, and wait and see if, by being ridiculous, the superficiality promoted by Tinder crumbles in a heap at the feet of his iPhone. Probably, this will not happen, but it’d be a fun experiment, and any potential match would, by default, be much more interesting. Or he could not do that, probably get better matches, and not listen to me being preachy about the sorry state of affairs in the wide world of dating. Yeah, he’s better off not listening to me.