Early-mid April 2015, Harlem.
In retrospect, I think it would have been fun and refreshing to drop any sort of game or charade and be quite forthright with the guys I encountered on Tinder. Had I taken this approach, here’s what I would have said:
Dear Guys of Tinder,
Early on in the Tinder experience, the process of having a steady flow of new men presented to you, incessant swiping and simultaneously holding a dozen iterations of the same conversation with a group of unfamiliar men became a bit overwhelming. As a result, some clear rules of engagement started to emerge for how I wanted to interact with you in order to not go crazy. Who knows, maybe I’m not the only one operating under these principles. At any rate, here’s how I’m Tinder-ing:
1. APPEARANCE+PERSONALITY=ATTRACTIVENESS. I will read your profile in its entirety, and will weight it equal to your appearance. Seriously. So if you are really attractive but you seem kind of skeezy, I probably can’t swipe right. I’ll pause, try and justify you for a moment, and then keep moving. If I don’t feel initially attracted to you, but you seem potentially interesting, I’ll swipe right on the chance that we have a stellar connection. I mean, we all know people we might not fawn over via photos but once you know them IRL, we find them attractive. So, I’ll give you the attractiveness benefit of the doubt…
2. WRITE SOMETHING, (ALMOST) ANYTHING. If you don’t write ANYTHING in your profile, or you only include your Instagram handle, it seems like your strategy is to attract people based solely on your photos/attractiveness, which makes me start questioning things. I get that this is basically how Tinder started: judge people as hot or not and go from there. But if you have the chance to share a little about yourself, thus elevating Tinder from a purely appearance-driven hookup app to a mere simplified, normal dating app, why not? A little about yourself can help make Tinder more than a meat market. :)) Since the app maxes you out at 500 characters, no one’s asking for a Master’s thesis.
3. FAITH: At this point in time, I’m open to guys outside my faith background, since my goal is just to force myself out on a date or two. That said, Tinder Guy whose instagram handle is “@SadisticBro” I may not be the girl for you. I won’t feel bad when you reject me for being @JesusGirl86RepentAllYouSinnerzzz
4. MESSAGING: If you message me, and I’m not offended/weirded out, I’ll write back. (Even if I am weirded out, I’ll probably still write back due to the entertainment factor.) I might not respond very quickly, but that’s only because if I was checking the Tinder app every twenty minutes, I’d be concerned. There’s a big wide world with things to do and people to see and checking Tinder can only take so high a priority, I think.
5. LEVEL OF NAKEDNESS: If you have shirtless selfies -and especially multiple shirtless selfies, I just can’t swipe right. Maybe I’m supposed to be wooed by your shirtless self, but I just really feel a little weirded out at this point. Its like, Pic 1, Pic 2, Aaaah there’s a half-naked stranger right in front of me. I don’t mean to say it’s wrong, I just feel a little weirded out and somehow voyeuristic even though I didn’t ask you to take your clothes off…
6. WHY THE HURRY?: If you ask me out in your very first message, I’ll dodge you and throw out a potentially irritating question to test your willingness to converse. Your haste makes me skeptical: do I really seem JUST THAT COOL that you wanna hang out after learning a whopping <500 characters about me? Doubtful. Now you seem either bored, overeager or just interested in, you know. It’s okay if you are any of those things, I’m just looking for something a little different, so you probably wouldn’t like me, either.
7. SNAP JUDGMENTS HAPPEN, FOR BETTER OR WORSE. I’ll try to give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you do something that just seems odd, I might just back off with no explanation. I do feel a little bad about this, because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but from what I understand, there is a very good chance you do the exact same thing…
8. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ll keep your identity private but I do reserve the right to share anything you say or do with my brother and his girlfriend as soon as I arrive back home after our date. And/or tell anyone else who seems a worthy recipient. I won’t be mean, but I will be honest and possibly detailed.
So guys, all the best, and hope you find what you’re looking for! (Especially if you’re looking to say, empower and affirm the existence of those you talk to and maybe further humanity in some small way through the Tindersphere. That may be idealistic, but I’m holding out hope.)