I have had Tinder three times in my life. Once in first year out of curiosity, once after a break-up, because I was bored, and once in order to do research for this article. I have had the stereotypical weird messages, and of course the unavoidable disgusting ones. Admittedly, there were a couple of people who seemed decent but by the time I came across them I was tired with the entire enterprise. There have been a couple of times when the other person has asked to meet up, but it was always at that point that a mild panic would set in, and I would flake out. I have never set a meeting with someone that I have met on dating apps.
In primary school, we are taught about stranger danger and to be aware that people are not necessarily who they say they are online. The message in the end is that you shouldn’t meet up with people that you’ve talked to online because you can never be sure who it is, and you shouldn’t send compromising photos. This makes sense. It is still true, and the risk of being catfished has most likely increased considering how easy it is to access images and information on the internet, but it shouldn’t stop people from meeting up if they want to. It’s important to keep safe whilst meeting with people who, despite the fact that you met them on the internet and are probably meeting up with them because you both like each other enough to, you still technically don’t really know. There is a degree of separation and because of that it is easier to open up to people and feel closer than you might otherwise. That’s not a bad thing, and actually can help you gain confidence when interacting with others. But you just never know.
Everyone looks great on the internet – you can adjust your image to suit your narrative and to hell with the rest. In real life that isn’t so easy. In a world where we are more and more reliant on social media and DMs in order to communicate, it makes it harder to do so in real life. It’s hard to look someone in the eye and be vulnerable. This is probably why internet dating has become so popular: it’s fast, it’s easy, and you can avoid the sheer awkwardness of talking to someone in the ‘let’s get together’ way for the first time.
I’m not saying all of this to put people off of internet dating, but it’s hard to see the positives of a system that relies entirely on shallow perspectives. If it takes someone from one tenth of a second to 30 seconds to form an opinion on someone, you can very much assume that in the fast-paced swipe right or left world of Tinder your matches are not swiping right because of your personality.
Now that it’s becoming more and more common, the whole ‘taboo’ of meeting on dating apps has become less prevalent. The fact that there was a taboo to begin with doesn’t really make sense. Was it more that people felt insecure about using internet dating sites? I can see how, 20 years ago and when the internet was fairly new, using a dating site could seem like giving up, but it’s convenient if your schedule doesn’t allow you to just go out and meet people. Or, if you’re incredibly shy, it allows you to communicate with someone you like without the feeling of sheer awkwardness overwhelming you.
Tinder is like marmalade: either you like it and have had a decent experience on it or you don’t and you’ve received a lot of weird messages. Whilst many Tinder experiences are somewhere in between, these are the two extremes. Personally, I think that the number of weird messages that you can receive and the whole ‘stranger danger’ aspect of it is enough to put anyone off. But if your experience on Tinder has been good, then well done because it is actually quite impressive if anyone manages to navigate it without getting disheartened with the whole process.
[Katerina Partolina Schwartz – she/her]
[Photo credit: jojo borayantu/flickr.com]