Monday, August 26, 2013

OMG, I Joined Tinder (then left)

So yeah, as I have remarked (griped) about before on this site, dating in New York City is just about the worst thing ever, and with an extra layer of despair for the ladies in this town.  I have had just about enough of it and many times I press my hands together and vow myself to celibacy for the rest of my days but then yeah, that thing called sex-drive and life-drive reminds me that I am full of shit and I hurtle myself back into the fishy sea. 

My personality type is all A, so proactivity is essential when facing any problem.  The problem to solve is my lack of love life which is totally new to me (for the past 10+ years I have been a serial monogamist) and thus I haven’t a clue what to do to fix it.  Then in comes the internet.  There are a lot, like a gazillion, sites and apps that are specific to this first world problem of finding love or a variation of it.  I have shied away from things like Okcupid because it seems like too much effort and being an Asian woman is like wearing a giant target for all those freak fetishists out there.  I did want to try something though, for the curiosity of it, the wishful thinking it might actually do something, and to see how these sorts of things work and what that means to the bigger human social experiment and how it reflects these times.

I came to choose Tinder because a friend of mine has been using it for a while and they love it.  They are male and he showed it to me and I was like “that’s insane!”  He had gone on a few ‘dates’ and nothing serious came of any of them but he said it was fun.  So last week, August 21st to be exact, I downloaded the app to my iphone and entered the vortex that is Tinder.

So here’s how it works.  You sign in via your Facebook account, (nothing is posted or revealed on your actual Facebook re: your Tinder use) then it auto selects your main profile picture and includes up to four other profile pics.  It had me as male at first so that was weird but you can change this and then you can go to the “Matching Preferences” section and you can select if you are interested in males or females, the age range (mine was 27-34, I’m 31) and your search limit in regards to GPS distance from you (I have up to five miles).  Then you can click on “Recommendations” and the GPS map thing loads from your current location and up pops a picture of a person near by that fits your preferences.  You see a picture of them, their first name, their age, and how many shared friends and shared interests you have (via your Facebook account).  You can click onto the person and see some more pictures of them, if they have, and also a tagline, if they have.  If you think that person is cute then you swipe to the right.  If you don’t, then you swipe to the left. 

At first I was really bad at swiping so I swiped a few people that I didn’t think were cute by accident, oppsy.  But then I got used to it and I basically swiped to the left (Nope) like 99% of the time.  It’s actually boring, sad, bleak and a bit annoying to have to go through so many human beings.  Also, when you see a person you know in real life, it’s like ‘eeek’ and ‘lol’ at the same time.  There were a few guys I thought were cute and these were also those that I shared a lot of mutual friends with (20+) and also had lots of shared interests with.  On Facebook, I currently, to date, have 1,049 ‘friends’ and 101 interests. I have a variety of networks but most are in the arts, music, or literature so having more shared associations was to me a real ‘this is not so creepy and pathetic’ factor.  This actually became a rule, if there were 0 shared things I immediately swiped to the left.

So you swipe swipe swipe and if there is someone that you swipe to the right, ‘like’, and if, when they see you on their phone, they also swipe you to the right, you get a “Match” and there is a folder like thing that shows you who you liked that also liked you.  When this happens you are allowed to chat with them through the site.   So over the past 5 days I had 15 matches, of those I only meant to like 6, (as I said, I was bad at the swiping at first) and of those I chatted with 4. 

There was this one guy, lets call him Patrick (all names changed) that was one of my first actual matches and we had a lot of shared friends and interests and he looked sorta crazy but in a good way.  We chatted a lot when we matched and then he asked for my actual phone number so we could text off the site.  We texted a lot the next day.  We then made tentative plans to see each other that night.  Previously in the day, another guy named ‘Michael’ matched with me, he said he knew of me and that we should get off the site and chat via Facebook. 

I went to a party with some friends and drank a lot of tequila.  One of my friends kept saying ‘where is Michael’ to some of her other friends.  In walks Michael.  The same Michael from Tinder.  My face gets hot.  I sorta look the other way, he looks the other way.  Then my friend introduces us and we look at each other and are like, ‘yeah we sorta know each other’ and she says, ‘oh good, how?’ and I think I said ‘we just liked each other on Tinder.’  I had told her I was using it earlier in the night.  We all start laughing and he shows her how it works on his phone and then we walk away from each other.  I feel like my face is going to melt off from embarrassment.  She wants me to talk to him but he is busy and I feel really really dumb.  I decide to leave after a while and I feel like a total idiot. 

Then Patrick texts and wants to know if I want to still meet up.  It is already 1:00am and I drank A LOT of tequila. I figure sure why not, why not explode myself via Tinder all in one night.  We meet up at a bar and talked for about two hours.  It is really odd to meet a complete stranger and you both know the other person thinks they are cute.  Really weird.  Anyways we talk, it’s fine, there isn’t much chemistry but it’s not unpleasant.  We know a lot of the same people.  There was a little knee to knee touching but nothing else.  He walks me to my door, no hugs or kisses just a 'nice to meet you goodbye.’  I again feel like a total idiot.  

The next day I feel like trucks ran over me physically and I feel emotionally drained.  There are no texts from Patrick.  I friend Michael on Facebook and said it was nice to meet him irl, no response returned.  I look at my Tinder and think, ‘Jesus f-ing Christ.’ 

I try to give it another go, but after those two interactions I feel totally disinterested about Tinder.  Yes, there are people out there that you could potentially like that may like you but after the easiness of swiping and the distanced and affected form of communication that is texting, the actuality of meeting a stranger in whatever context mediated through this app is not very easy or comfortable at all. 

Using Tinder was certainly eye opening in many ways.  It is great that a thing like this exists in some ways because it does serve a need, the need and want to meet people in a city that is full of busy lives and micro communities.  It is also always fun to flirt and to have that surge of sexual or romantic potential.  This app is definitely about surfaces though; judging a book/a person, by their cover is definitely what is happening.  This is interesting to think about though, the ways we represent and project ourselves online and how real, honest or reflective that is.  Going through all those faces, the concept of a ‘type’ is cemented.  We are all a type; the way someone looks and presents themselves online reveals this type so quickly that it is surprising in the honesty of that reduction.  This also is at odds to the totality of a person.  They might fit your idea or want in another person but at the end of day who they are, their personality, their chemical mix and if you actually like each other can only be known by meeting and interacting with them in real life. 

So after five days, one date, one accidental meeting and zero progress made in the thing called my love life, I have deleted my account from Tinder and will just try it the old fashion way.  Well, maybe in a few days or weeks, this whole thing made me want to vow my single celibacy oath again but I know that won’t last long.  When I do want to play in the dating game again, I’ll know that there are options on the internet that could possibly make this more accelerated, more addictive, and more removed in some ways but I will count my losses and hope that the whole universe, magic, cupid thing will eventually make things happen.