The Tinder turning point for me came about five years ago when a friend told me her eldest son had a new girlfriend. He met her on Tinder, she said. Damn Tinder, she said, and I expected motherly horror that her boy would rather meet partners online than at a nightclub or something.
Instead, she was furious that she spent half her weekends driving him from her hometown to a similarly sized small town 20km away. Bloody Tinder and its powers to expand the dating pool. My girlfriend’s life would have been infinitely easier if, as was the case in her day, you just had to choose who was there.
As Tinder turns 10 and its technological transformation of dating lives is recognized, it’s easiest to look back with rose-colored glasses to a time when endorphins, animal attraction, and personal interaction decided who was attracted to who. It was a simpler time, maybe even a little funnier, but not necessarily better considering the restrictions.
Before online dating, most long-term relationships in Ireland were initiated under the influence of alcohol and most partners were chosen from a limited pool of people with whom you went to school or college, lived nearby and with whom you were not related. The last one was obviously crucial.
Of course, that’s how great partnerships, marriages, and love stories started, but it wasn’t all great. Many relationships lasted because people saw no alternative. Sure, who else would have them? Well, in an app, there’s an endless number of people you’ll have — even if a part swipe left because they wouldn’t have you in a fit. And you’ll never know they swiped left, so who cares? There are many more fish online. Literally. There is an app for that.
But just because Tinder and the apps it inspired, from Plenty More Fish to Bumble to the forthcoming The Right Stuff — where conservatives can find their soulmates — are now part of the dating fabric, doesn’t mean we’ve got our hands on it Throw it up and accept it the way life is.
Those of us who were around before Tinder see dating apps as a choice. You can go for them or choose not to. The more normal they become, the more generations growing up in the dating app age will believe apps are just like you do.
It’s all sold as safer, more specific, and tailored to the user, but for our kids, is it really just driving a bigger technological wedge between them and basic human interaction? As if our kids still need a bit of technology to put them between them and the real world.
Of course, the revolution that Tinder started has huge benefits. One is the larger dating pool mentioned above, which anyone can dip into. It causes us to stop going in circles within our boundaries of class, race, community and nationality. It gets us over the reluctance to initiate interactions, it brings the bereaved, separated, divorced, and abandoned outside again in ways they could never have dreamed of in the past few decades.
The idea that a single widow or separated woman poses a threat to her friends who are still married is not a thing of the past. It’s real, but it found its adversary in app dating. Today, this newly single woman is a threat to her boyfriends’ marriages, not because they think she wants their middle-aged husbands, but because they envy her heaving diary of dating younger men.
The downsides range from the reported lack of security that many women feel when connecting from the internet to real life, to the problem that exists throughout the internet where disembodied interaction can all too easily lead to abuse, in ways like she wouldn’t be face to face.
Try rejecting a dick pic on a dating app and see what kind of dog abuse you get. And the breakup is dangerous, not only for adults who are good at taking care of themselves, but also for how it trickles down to our children and their burgeoning sexuality, sexual behavior, and expectations.
We all know how porn pollutes their minds from a young age due to internet access, but they’re also growing up in a world where it’s normal to be pseudo-intimate with – and towards – people you’ve never met even more intimate than you would face-to-face. They send the dick pics and they do it because they know adults do that. Believe me, I’ve seen the pictures 13-year-old boys sent to their female peers asking them to return the favor.
They don’t send them to people they particularly like or want to engage with personally; Cast a wide net – just like the apps taught us – and see what catches. If only a few take revenge naked, then that’s a success. Frigid, by the way, is still a term for those who would dare to imply that they are not interested. Really, we’ve come a long way.
Interestingly, while dating apps have expanded people’s possibilities, opened up dating worlds, and created millions of successful matches, we find ourselves in a recognized epidemic of loneliness. Despite what posting pictures of their genitals might suggest, fewer young people are having actual sex in real life.
The old way wasn’t perfect and led to a lot of discrepancies, but it also resulted in many people ending up with partners they wouldn’t have picked on screen, but who personally had a mind-blowing, heart-racing effect on them. In a post-lockdown world where WFH has pushed us further apart, we may need more face-to-face messiness, not less.
In fact, it’s worth noting that Apple is making a significant effort to get its people back into offices and mingling with each other again. While their job is to get more and more technology into our hands that creates distance between us, they want their staff to go around making human magic again. That’s perhaps the lead we should take away from them, rather than continue to mindlessly buy into their technology.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/happy-birthday-tinder-its-not-you-its-me-41925793.html Happy birthday Tinder. It’s not you, it’s me…