“You clearly hate me so I’m just going to leave,” said the dark-haired man with a chiseled jaw and thick stubble who took me out Friday night.
Tinder, the most popular dating service among 18-30 year-olds, allows users to swipe left or right on potential dates based on a few pictures and a short bio. It’s amazing, especially in a big city like Chicago, where hundreds of people in your age range live within walking distance. An infinity pool of possibilities or half-price all you can eat sushi at a strip mall, depending on how you look at it.
Friday, I went on a Tinder date.
Guess how it went. He seemed fine at first, tall, good-looking and all that. His bio reads “Swipe right if you like coffee, working out, walks on the beach, and making bad decisions.” Of course it did. We chatted back and forth throughout the day. He joked about running a drug cartel and not being very smart before asking to meet up at a bar in Lincoln Park.
The entire date lasted less than an hour, if we count the ride there. He delivered bad jokes and line after line about his business, dog, and workout routine. By the end of that ride I hated his false confidence and righteous attitude so much. I knew I was over it. I think he knew too. We get out of the car and start walking when he tries to hold my hand. “Sorry, no” was all I could say while planning my escape from this handsome weirdo. But he beat me to it, and left.
Tinder works like this, two users swipe right on each other creating a “match,” which then
allows them to exchange messages. This is where most interactions die. Not because people aren’t cute, cool, or funny enough, but because trying to impress a stranger that is also trying to impress you over a chat message gets old fast. Slowly letting the conversation die is so much easier than putting yourself out there on what is basically a blind date.
The hardest part about Tinder is meeting the people you match with. Believe it or not, last night was a success, we gave it a shot. Tinder dates are notorious for ending badly. I think I’ve finally realized why.
People will go out of their way to seem like a different person, a person they think you want. And because of mainstream media telling us what’s cool and what’s not, that idealized version of themselves is mostly the same. It’s generic and generic is boring. This goes for dating in general, but the anonymity features on Tinder make it especially easy. Enhanced photos aren’t even the problem but the entire user presence—their bio, messaging style, jokes, the gifs they use, the photos they choose to display—is so often a rip off of someone else.
So what went wrong Friday night? Overcompensating, and being overly focused on whether I was buying into the fantasy version of himself he served up. He never gave it a chance.
Because people who lack originality and insecurities are boring. Vulnerability isn’t the enemy, people.