“Brydie, you have to try it. It’s so much better than a dating site. It basically replicates the experience of meeting someone in a bar”.
“But I hate meeting people in bars”.
“Sure. Well, uh, I mean, it’s great because it’s so honest. Like, you don’t find this person hot? Just reject them immediately!”
“That sounds kind of mean.”
“Right. Well, you like iPhone games right? You swipe left, swipe right, except instead of birds hitting pigs it's birds hitting ON pigs!”
“That didn’t quite work how you wanted it to”.
“...OK, look, you need to stop sleeping with your friends and it’s either this or quitting sex altogether”.
So I joined Tinder. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, Tinder is an app that finds other users in your area, allows you to look at a few photos and a brief description of them and then swipe left for “Nope” and right for “Liked”. If they also like you, then you’re a match and can chat to each other, with a view to... well, whatever. Tinder describes itself as “Like real life, but better” because it has obviously never seen the 1999 Jude Law classic Existenz and therefore doesn’t understand why that’s a creepy statement.
The conversation above came about at the end of a particularly busy working period which had led to me cancelling several dates. This wouldn’t be hugely problematic- it’s 2014, man! Having it all! Women in the workplace! Sandra Bullock is an astronaut! Etc!- except that part of my work is hosting a sex and dating advice show. So skipping dates was the professional equivalent of a French chef on a butter-free diet or a lawyer who is...uh...allergic to... contracts. (Full disclosure, I know more about tortes than torts and I only 50% regret that pun)
I tried explaining my Tinder issues to friends who, for the first time ever, accused me of being “too picky” in dubious voices that suggested they had trouble shaping the words.
I thought I’d landed on a solution when I realised that I could combine my work with my...work by sleeping with other comedians. I mean, I had to see them all the time anyway! And self-loathing/egomania/substance abuse problems aside, they’re occasionally ok people! But when my attempts to convert my social group into a kind of roving key party started to look like laziness, it was suggested that I go less retro with my free love. Thus: an app. And minimal fondue. But mainly the app thing.
I wasn’t against the idea of Tinder per se. My gay friends had been using Grindr for years to great success and I’d often idly wished I could try it out. But in the grand traditions of reality TV, Kylie Minogue and Sydney’s nightlife, the straights will insist on messing with what homosexuals perfect and thus, Tinder was but a shadow of Grindr’s glory.
It became immediately clear to me that Tinder was Grindr if Grindr got rid of most of the attractive dudes and replaced them with awkward preamble. Given the location function, I was pretty confident most people would be using it for casual hookups but the people I chatted to seemed largely horrified by the suggestion. Instead of some stress-relieving strange, I found myself in circular conversations with self-righteous hipsters who called themselves either “gentlemen” (creepy) or “crazy girls” (tedious), dependent on the gender. This stage reached a nadir with a 20 year old architecture student who recently had a mental breakdown and just wanted to talk to me about Marquez and a girl called Rizzo who asked me to dye my hair red and threatened to block me when I refused. Neither screamed “casual fling” though both screamed, I assume.
After my initial flurry, I let the app lie dormant for a while, pushing it to the last screen of my phone along with “Stocks”, “Apple Maps” and other irrelevances. But when a family trip took me away from my London home to the sweaty swampland of Florida, I decided to give it a whirl stateside. Maybe Americans would be a more entertaining market for casual sex?
Here are a few equations I developed to explain my Tinder findings. “Interests: Manchester United” is to London as “GO GATORS!” is to Florida. Skinny jeans are to London as guns- the kind that kill people and the kind on arms- are to Florida. “I love music” is to London as “Jesus is my homeboy” is to Florida. Murderous aliens are to London as bisexuals are to Florida. Perhaps needless to say, my success remained limited.
I tried explaining my Tinder issues to friends who, for the first time ever, accused me of being “too picky” in dubious voices that suggested they had trouble shaping the words. I think what it actually comes down to is that random sex is often fun and an app that facilitates that is certainly worthwhile. Relationships can be deeply fulfilling and an app that brings people together for that is a great idea. But anything that asks me to swipe on someone’s uncaptioned selfie while simultaneously considering them for the role of Serious Life Partner is frankly taking the piss.
I’m currently visiting my folks in Sydney in an expensive attempt to answer the question “Can you ever really go home again?” (SPOILERS: you can but all your friends will have babies and trains will have become inexplicably expensive) I’d been back a week when I received a Facebook message from a dude I made out with when I was 16. It read “Totally just swiped to the right for you on Tinder! Welcome back!”
Ugh. Anyone for a key party?
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