“It’s like real life, but better.”
One one particularly mundane weekday evening, I decided to plunder the App Store and see what I could find. Now armed with my updated iPhone, I decided I would try to update myself on what was new in social media. Yes, I am now on Twitter (you can find me @4evamaria), but there is something increasingly disturbing about all this rapid-fire spread of information. I appreciate being able to receive quick notices from the local news, from NPR, from the UN. I do not need mid-day reassurance from Cosmopolitan that “Yes, you can find a hot bikini even if you have giant boobs.” Really?! Could we be more crass?
Regardless, I do hear plenty of positive anecdotes when it comes to apps. One of my best friends works for a fantastic one, Google maps saves me constantly, and I adore Spotify for being able to play my music on the go. Lately I’ve heard quite a bit about one in particular: Tinder. Recently made famous by it’s mass-use by the many Olympians in Sochi this past Valentine’s Day. The premise of this app is to locate members of the opposite sex within a 5/10/30 mile radius of you and to expedite an interaction. It’s quite simple in design, really- a sort of selective, tech-based mixer. You are presented with photos, and are given the option to move along (swipe to the left “Nope!”) or give a stamp of approval (swipe right). Yes, this app rejoices in making superficial judgments of people, and you are only matched if both parties “like” each other. Now, a friend of mine had had a surprisingly positive experience using this app: they met up for happy hour, and before she knew it, were attending each others’ company Christmas parties. It may not be the most romantic of stories, but at the very least you’ve expanded your social circle. I decided to take Tinder for a test drive, not expecting much of anything, yet hoping to have enough insight that I might share it with all of you. Hint: it’s certainly not “better” than real life.
It takes about 8 seconds to sign up (only possible if you have functional Facebook account), set your parameters, and start swiping. And I mean, swiping. I was moving through these photos so fast, my hand started to cramp. (Does anyone get carpal tunnel from this?) I was met with a barrage of images, almost all of them discouraging and strangely generic. I’m not sure what disappointed me more, the fact that I was so gladly judging people solely based on appearances, or these people presented themselves so poorly. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the face you present to the public doesn’t matter, that you can’t judge a book by its cover, etc. But, if I chose to go to work everyday wearing sweats, not brushing my hair, and looking like an all-around mess, would you trust me to teach your children? I think not. Take some pride in your appearance, that’s all I’m saying. To further elaborate, here are some examples of the things I saw:
Men hugging their dogs (Ok, so you like animals)
Men in bed with their dogs (Ok, weird)
Men holding massive cans of cheap beer
Men surrounded by women. Need I say more?
Men with mugshot-like photos. Looking like a serial killer is not attracting the ladies, sir.
The John Waters mustache. When was that ever a good idea?
A man. With a Tuba. On a beach. Why?
We’ve all decided the duck-face is unattractive. What makes it even more appalling is that you’re a 32 year-old man doing it.
Despite all the negativity, I can see how this app can be addicting. When you do match with someone, it’s an instant ego boost. You can puff out your chest and say “Look! These people who I think are attractive find me attractive too!” You now have a concrete list to be proud of, as bizarre as it is. After all of the endless scrolling, I became painfully aware of the fact that I was most likely being subjected to the same treatment on another phone. Paranoid that all these people could see me, I quickly deleted the app. If anything, I learned a little bit about myself. Cliché, I know, but it made me feel better. In my humble opinion, you’re instantly more attractive if you can approach someone in person and strike up a conversation, even better if you can make them laugh. And, although I did appreciate the pictures of baby animals that some gentlemen chose to post instead of themselves, how about putting the phone down and looking around once in a while? Pull out your earbuds and smile at someone or say hello. They say that loneliness is a growing epidemic among younger generations, and I can see why. Let go of your electronic best friend, and go out there and meet some people. See real things. Learning how to connect to humanity in a real way is so much better than this app.
Just a thought.