Slide your own Kismet with Tinder5/4/2016
Nearly every industry offers a good that comes with a stigma. Setting aside pornography, if you buy a $100,000 sports car, you’re compensating for something. If you go to the theater alone, you’re a sad, lonely guy. Smoke cigarettes and you’re a selfish, uneducated fool. This list could go on for the length of this column. Still, if you were to rank all stigmas, the lowest of the low for the last 20 years is meeting someone through the Internet. Since its inception, finding a date through the Internet has meant you’re desperate to find someone. But then something happened. Generation X and the Baby Boomers have slowly been replaced by Millennials as the main audience for pop culture, and with it came a new set of social norms. Suddenly, not only is Internet dating acceptable, it is now one of the more trendy things you can do. How’d this happen? A little hook-up application called Tinder.
To be fair to cutting-edge philanderers and those scared of commitment, Tinder is not the first piece of technology to make hooking up or online relationships socially acceptable. As long the telephone has been around, people have been hooking up. Tinder is simply the tipping point. Fifty million people currently use Tinder, and the application claims that more than 1 billion connections have been made in its four years of service.
For those uninitiated in the world of Tinder, the app is basically the most superficial dating service you can imagine. Instead of sites like eHarmony, OkCupid, Farmers Only or Match.com, which mathematically weigh your personal interests, education, future hopes and dreams against potential suitors, Tinder simply has you open an account via your Facebook credentials, set up a profile with a couple pictures, your birthdate and your location. After those few details, you’re ready to start meeting people. Tinder doesn’t play games with what users want out of life or delivering those few personalized elements that make everyone special; it is a meat market. Users pick — and are picked by — others solely off their appearance. If you see someone you like, you slide their profile picture to the right. If you don’t care for the pictures or appearance of someone, you slide their profile to the left. If someone you slid to the right does the same thing, the application will allow the two of you to message each other and you take it from there.
Seems like the perfect vehicle for shallow people to meet each other and hook up for an evening of emotionless copulation, right? Well, surprisingly, Tinder is actually becoming a common propellant for lasting relationships, even marriages. While culture warriors might find Tinder to be a sign of the impending apocalypse, at least the hook-ups and relationships it sparks are started with zero pretense. Both parties in a Tinder hook-up know what brought the other there, and if something more makes them stay, more power to them.
Still, that’s not enough for some people. For those with the moral high ground, it is simply wrong to connect with someone for purely carnal reasons, and using the Internet to get there just makes it worse. Well, if you believe hooking up is sinful or immoral, I have nothing for you, but the Internet was practically made for creeping on potential mates. Facebook’s relationship status tab is maybe its most important feature, “Googling” is practically a prerequisite for safe dating now, and who hasn’t seen an online photo of a crush and wondered what the relationship is of the other people in the picture.
Morality is generationally fluid. In pilgrim times, technologically enhanced dating meant lying on a bed with a board concealing everything but one’s face; today we have Tinder. For those with a problem, that’s all fine and good. I think the site you’re looking for is Christian Mingle. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.