Dani Pinkus

All things feminism, funny, and fabulous.

Girl on Girl: Swipe Wrong

Girl on Girl: Swipe Wrong

Originally published on CUIndependent.com on March 9, 2017

There’s a thing happening — that’s been happening — in the modern dating scene, and it’s kind of like the plague but also like renting out a window in the red-light district, and it’s called Tinder. You may have heard of it, might have used it. If not to gander your missed opportunities, then perhaps to consider where you’ll drop your junk next.

It’s cool — do what you do and get your Tinder on. But as fun and silly as swiping right can be, the Tinder raid may be seriously impeding how millennials deal with relationships.

 Let’s start from the beginning. What even is Tinder?

Tinder is a smartphone app that is as dirty as it sounds rolling off your tongue, and even dirtier when your tongue is inside of someone you met through it. It was founded by CEO Sean Rad, an Angeleno who dropped out of USC and collaborated with some old friends in 2011. The app’s intent was to bring awkward bar flirting into the pockets of the hot, young and awkward. In 2012, Tinder went live in the App Store, targeting college campuses, and in 2013, it let Android in on the action. By 2014, only half of Tinder’s users were college students, leaving the other 50 percent to a variety of grandpas catfishing your daughter.

Tinder is currently estimated to have 50 million users worldwide, and it’s a hodgepodge of people. Everyone has his or her own agenda, but the hook-up is still the hot commodity. Rad reported that 80 percent of users actually hope to find love, while the other 20 percent swipe in search of “brief friendships.” That’s a whole lot of finger calories lost on the love of your life.

“Tinder is a great place to search for a fuck buddy,” said Sammie Posner, CU student.

No doubt about it, college is a black hole in a Tinder dream scheme. You’re living in this town of young people who are already doing exactly what the app offers — finding their first ex-husband or best one-night stand. And yet, Rad and his minions have manifested an enterprise value of $4.7 billion, just by eliminating social interaction.

These days, all it takes for action is a match on Tinder, and you don’t even have to want it that badly. No eye-catching from across the room or grand gestures, and certainly no compromise. You can hang around drinking beers with buddies and biddies, swiping to the beat of your racing sex drive, and laughing out loud at the obvious left.

But as we know, there is not only one kind of Tinder user.

“I downloaded Tinder and went on one date. The guy looked nothing like he did in the picture, and then I deleted the app,” said Devon Blitz, CU alum. “But my boyfriend’s brother is getting married to a girl he met on Tinder, and they’re an awesome couple.”

It just kind of cuts out the middle-man who suggests the “match” across friend groups. The old-school blind date, if you will. Now you can form an attraction before even meeting. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

And on the topic of expressions, what ever happened to “don’t judge a book by its cover?” The bummer here is that there’s such a different connection formed when actually meeting someone face-to-face. You see them, and you’re drawn for reasons you can’t form into a text. You start a conversation, and where you were once intrigued, you’re suddenly soaking wet. And all because they told the story about their childhood trip to the zoo! Oh, the ever-impressionable zebra stripes! You just never know, and I’m afraid that Tinder limits the willingness to mate outside of shallow attraction.

Ultimately, to Tinder or not to Tinder — I don’t really care for the question.

But apparently, the few young people that manage to make their way into relationships need to be reminded: Tinder is not for you. Having it “just to make new friends” counts as using Tinder, and even having the app and “not using it” counts as being on Tinder. It has ended up being this normalized thing that people just “have” in the depths of their phones, sitting there, suspiciously unattended. Tinder seems to reaffirm a larger issue that young people are dealing with today: We don’t really know how to be in relationships.

Everything in millennials’ lives comes with options. We cut people out of our social circles by “unfriending” them on Facebook and “unfollowing” on Instagram. With apps like Tinder, the options are never limited, and your loosest commitment can fall through at your fingertips. Plus, if your one-on-one thing doesn’t work out, you have a collection of “matches” to fall back on.

There is an enormous lack of urgency among those in our age group. Being in a relationship has become an unnecessary obligation. We’re busy, we have other priorities and we’ve decided that our romantic relationships can wait for later, and the world around us makes them easy to avoid. We are willing to Snap, we love to post and we are down to sext, but we’re not entirely willing to commit ourselves to work at a relationship that has to accommodate two people’s needs.

In the 1960s, nearly 60 percent of adults between 18 and 29 were married, while the same age range married at only 20 percent in 2011. Times have certainly changed, and much of that is positive. We are taught to take more time to become ourselves — to experience, to fall apart, to realize and to then pursue love, not just marriage. Tinder is only one example out more than 2,500 online dating apps in the U.S., with a growing 1,000 new services a year. The programs are targeted at millennials because that is our demand. And when you fall outside the norm and do enter into an exclusive relationship, it’s hard to realize what that fully means.

So fine, fall in love and take your time getting there. Trip over the Tinder flings, let your hair down and celebrate the space. But we all know what Tinder is for, so realize when you’re swiping wrong and don’t let it be the reason your partner unmatches you in real life. When you fall deep enough into something that matters, even if you owe it to Tinder, do yourself and your significant other the courtesy of deleting the damn app. The presence of these things and the endless options along with them aren’t going anywhere. Before you get too caught up in swiping right, realize when it’s time to edit the homepage and focus on the person in front of you.

Photo by Dani Roche

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