Early April, 2015 – Harlem
Picking up where I left off, I downloaded Tinder and made the all-important, albeit low-stakes profile… and then curiosity just made me start swiping. Those very first few minutes, as I’m perched on the couch in pajamas, drinking tea and reviewing profiles-were some of the most wonderful. The Tinder landscape is nothing but a fresh snowfall – this magical new world full of mystery, possibility, tranquility, where all imperfections have been quietly blanketed over.
Here are the first few profiles we encounter:
1) Meet L. (name withheld to protect his identity…) the Irishman. His profile says, “let’s grab a beer and talk about our love of guacamole.” Well, (like 95% of the population), I ALSO like guacamole, so clearly we really could hit it off. Based on the heavy use of emojis in his profile*, L. likes beer, burgers, soccer, biking, skiing, golf and framed aliens(?) Hmmm, I’m not thrilled by any of those, but it’s not like I’m opposed to them either. Except for the alien, I never understood what that meant. Oh well, let’s swipe right (Yes).
And then… Oh my gosh, we matched. Oh my gosh, he liked me. He clearly felt a very meaningful connection with my overall personhood. How great is this!?
2. Here’s S. the Professor. Who spent time at Harvard and vaguely resembles Mark Rufalo? And says he wants to “build communities of friends/artists/collaborators?” I like all these things! Swipe right.
Oh my gosh, we matched, too – so the guy from Harvard thought I was like, at least passable as a person! Great!
3. Z. the (I don’t know your profession). Hmm, his entire profile is a Tinderized version of one of the best Kanye quotes: “Yo (your last Tinder match) I’ma let you finish but Z. here is gonna be the best Tinder match of all time!!!!”
Yeah, somehow that was very winsome…
Ten or 15 or 50 profiles later, Tinder is much more enjoyable than expected. It’s almost like meeting a bunch of new guys without having to talk to them…we see photos and review a self-disclosing writing sample, and that’s it! So our entire initial ‘interaction’ involves only reading and our own silent judgment?!?! This is a DREAM! 🙂
I can quickly understand why people get hooked on this app: beyond the curiosity about who’s out there, once you start saying Yes to people, it’s a little intriguing to see who says Yes to you.
In those first few minutes of Tinder, I took every match as a small sign of personal validation of my life choices, interests and overall self, a little +1 on the cosmic quest of being ALRIGHT. However, equating a match with affirmation of who you are is problematic for two reasons: first, guys might swipe you because they’re interested in you…or they might swipe you because they swipe Yes on EVERY SINGLE WOMAN. Apparently this is a strategy of its own – say Yes to everyone to increase your chances of getting a Yes in return, and whittle your options down once you know who’s into you. This means a simple match on Tinder, alas, does not prove that the gentleman thinks you are particularly interesting, cute, amusing…the only conclusion we can draw with 100% certainty is that he recognized you as a living female body. And I mean, we already knew that, so that match doesn’t tell us anything!
Also, secondly, you probably don’t want to put questions of your worth in the hands of total strangers in the first place. Seems reasonable.
Those first few matches never said anything to me after we matched (clearly intimidated, all of them :)), so the “IfHeSwipedMeHeMustLikeMe!!” theory was swiftly debunked and replaced with “YourSwipeMeansNothingUntilWeCommunicate.”
And learning not to put too much stock in matches in and of themselves is rather useful once we transition from the peaceful little Tinder snowglobe world of solitary swiping to the BLIZZARD OF GUYS/MATCHES/MESSAGES and our perfect snowglobe-y dreamworld of Early Tinder starts getting gray and slushy pretty fast. So strap on the snowshoes (?) because on we go – time to converse with these strangers!
*In hindsight I’m not sure a string of emojis in one’s profile is entirely appealing. I can’t help but read it and get a bit of a tween vibe and it raises unfortunate questions as to whether the guy is a tad bit lazy, or just thinks these cute little pictures do a better job expressing his passions than the English language.
As one Tinder guy weighed in, “sometimes I have the impulse to use an emoji when I’m writing. But then this part of me kicks in that says that if I did, some part of my masculinity might die.”