What I Learned from a Week on Tinder

Originally published in January, 2013 on mommyhasapottymouth.tumblr.com, the mouthful that is my former blog.

Author’s Note: I was introduced to Tinder by a male friend a couple weeks ago after a long night of drinking, and we spent a good half hour swiping, judging, and laughing at this obvious train wreck of a dating app. Being a married woman, I was fascinated by the absurd, attention seeking photos that some of these girls were posting. I was equally fascinated by the reactions and thought processes of my guy friends on the other end of it all. I thought, “THIS is perfect material for a quick blog post. This shit pretty much writes itself.” I created an account and planned to stay on just long enough to make some humorous observations and provide some witty tips. I titled my post, “What I learned in 30 minutes on Tinder” and started writing. But then I found that MY experience… the process, the story, and the people behind those Tinder profile pictures… was equally as entertaining, if not more so, than the casual observations that got me here in the first place. Who is using this thing? Why? What are their expectations, or do they have any? What happens when a married woman jumps in the mix? The answers to these questions and more may or may not surprise you, but I hope they at least serve to entertain you. This is Part 1 of the Tinder Saga: What I Learned from a Week on Tinder.

Send me a Candy Crush or Farmville invite, and I will defriend you. Wear clothing featuring an Angry Bird character, and I will assume that you’re the byproduct of a romance between your father and his second cousin. But show me this crazy game all the cool kids are playing called “Tinder” on a Saturday night after a few drinks, and I will be hooked.

While technically a dating app, Tinder truly feels more like a game… an addictive, soul-crushing game. The speed at which you can scroll through potential candidates, assigning “yay” or “nay” based solely on looks, seems more like Hot or Not than eHarmony. That spike of dopamine you get when your frantic judging is briefly interrupted as “It’s a Match” takes over your screen is the same, addition-causing spike that occurs when you see that little, red Facebook notification pop up on your phone. And the fact that you’re quickly able to slip into a mind numbing, time wasting, comatose state sure feels more like playing Candy Crush than dating.

And though the company has never specifically claimed to be a dating app, the choice of the word Tinder would suggest they intended otherwise. Images of “sparks flying,” “fire starting,” and “kindling” are the same used to describe the beginnings of hot, romantic flings. It primes the user to feel optimistic about his or her chances of experiencing some special chemistry with an attractive match. But given the obscene amount of narcissism, hedonism, and instant gratification that accompany this “game,” I feel that the “easily combustible,” “blazing inferno,” and “up in flames” qualities of tinder could easily apply, as well.

So to test out this match-making, people-meeting, disaster-waiting-to-happen game, I did what any normal, married woman would do… I created an account and fully submerged myself in the world of Tinder.

THE EXPERIMENT…

Step 1- Set this Bitch Up

Now, despite how horrendously awful Apple searches are, the correct Tinder app came up as the first suggestion. The other app recommendations that pop up when you search for Tinder were surprisingly accurate, as well. Vanity, mindless addition, narcissism, juvenility. Yep, that pretty much sums up the entire Tinder experience.

APPS

To set up your Tinder account, all you do is log in via Facebook and give them access to all your information, your tooth fairy money, and naming rights of your next born child. NBD.

PROFILE1

Step 2- Glimpse, Judge, Swipe, Repeat

Seriously?!!! Okay this is just ridiculous and depressing. Out of the first ten or so pictures to pop up, at least 80% were under the age of 30, half were dumb enough to post pictures of themselves with other girls, and one guy was photographed with his boyfriend. And they call it Tinder? I’m starting to think that Fire Extinguisher, Wet Towel, Airtanker, or Thoughts of Grandma in Her Lingerie would be more appropriate names for this blatant waste of my time. <think of baseball, think of baseball, think of baseball…>

ROUND1_blurred

Oh. Wait. I can change the settings. Phew! I was starting to feel like a pedophile, and let me tell you, it is not all it’s cracked up to be. I set the minimum age to 30, remove my kid’s names, and explicitly state that I am married.

Game on, Garth!!! Ok this is way better. I don’t have any set criteria for “right swiping,” per se, but I like to positively reinforce those who have a decent profile pic. A picture of yourself (solo) flashing a good smile will automatically get you through. Pics with half-naked girls, your mom, your biceps, or (sorry, single dads) your kids, will automatically get you “left swiped.” I’m sure you’re all lovely people, but it’s not my fault. My finger is the one doing the swiping, and my finger thinks your picture is awkward for a dating app.

Then your screen fades to black, and you barely make out the words “It’s a Match!” because your heart starts beating 1,000 times per minute and your dopamine levels spike as if you’ve just freebased a bowl of pure Blue Sky. I don’t care if you’re married, single, gay, straight, Elven, canine, whatever. That shit just makes you feel good.

Wait. There’s another one. And then another.

MATCH

Can we pause for just one fucking second? What the hell is going on here?!!! Seriously. That’s three out of three. Did they completely ignore the fact that I’m photographed with another man? Or not read the tagline that explicitly says that I’m married? Or do they not care? Ok this just got extremely interesting. Now I need answers…

My phone dies, and I don’t have the right charger with me. Fuck you, Apple, for changing the dock connector. Will resume later.

Step 3- Start Completely Fucking with Tinder

Tinder, you have my attention. If I was able to get matches with pictures of my husband, what would happen if I posted a picture of myself solo? OMFG what if I posted a picture from my wedding day?!!! Hahahaha!!! Done and done.

EXPERIMENT

Step 4- Say a Sweet Farewell to Your Dignity

I found myself starting to talk to a couple of these matches, most (if not all) of which had read my tagline and were fully aware that I was married. I already had all the material I needed to write about my experience- observations, snarky comments, tips- but I stumbled upon something completely unexpected. These guys were actually talking to me. I came up with some questions on the fly and took these opportunities to collect qualitative data. They shared their impetus for joining Tinder, their love stories, their own observations… and they did it all without being creepy or weird. Of course, there were a few sweethearts who gave me their phone numbers (unsolicited) just in case “I’d like to fuck” or “explore findings and make inferences together.” What was supposed to be a 30-minute trial run of a hedonistic, shallow dating app ended up turning into a week-long exploration into the psyche of the Tinderizing male.

SOME CASUAL OBSERVATIONS…

1. People come here for a variety of reasons, not just to hook up. I read somewhere (Wikipedia, duh) that 1 in 5 people actually meet up with their Tinder matches. This is far lower than 66% of other mobile dating users, suggesting that either Tinder users have really horrible closing skills or that it truly is more than just a dating app.

WHY

2. Guys don’t give a shit if you’re married. To be more specific, there is a distinct subset of Tinderizing males who don’t give a shit if you’re married and will explicitly tell you as much. This may or may not come as a surprise to many of you. The one exception seems to be if you post a picture of yourself from your actual wedding day. I assumed this was because it was too blatant and “in your face,” but one of my new Tinder friends thinks it’s because I was giving off the vibe that I am “freshly, happily married” and that guys may “interpret that as an open threesome invitation.” Well, if that’s so, then no one on here seemed to want to have a threesome with my husband and me. Rude!

MARRAIGE

3. As with any game, there are strategies. In hindsight, my “strategy” was to right swipe based solely on a good (i.e., not effing awkward photo), sense of humor, or potential for an interesting conversation. It seems that the males on Tinder take a slightly different approach.

STRATEGIES

4. I HATE Ke$ha. I was a little ambivalent about her before, but slight annoyance has turned into pure, unadulterated hatred. As if developing Tinderitis wasn’t enough, I literally couldn’t fall asleep the first night because, “It’s going down. I’m yelling TINDER!” was stuck in my head on repeat. On repeat. I don’t know any other fucking lyrics. And I’m fairly certain that it is now stuck in your head. All I can say is that I’m really, really sorry. Shit. Sorry.

5. I now look at every male between the age of 18-50 when I’m out in public and wonder to myself, “Did he see me on Tinder? Oh, fuck. Are we matched on Tinder?!!!” You know that feeling when you trip and fall on your face in public but can’t tell if anyone has noticed? And it’s just awkward and awful? Well, I now have that feeling approximately 50% of my day, every day. So if you’re reading this, and you see me somewhere, please make it less awkward for me and just call me out on it. I would literally prefer for you to point and laugh at me than knowingly say nothing.

TO SUM IT ALL UP…

Despite the obvious debauchery and hedonism that accompany the use of a dating game such as Tinder, I still managed to find some real humanity buried in there somewhere. I discovered guys who on there simply to sit back and witness the shit show, grown men who aren’t above having a real conversation with a stranger, and sweet souls who are actually looking to find someone special (in the wrong place, of course)… even the ones who were blatantly horrible people still managed to provide some head-shaking entertainment.

But when all is said and done, I will be deleting this app for good. I am surprised to find that it will actually be hard to let it go. Meeting new people- kind people, interesting people, weird people, horrible people, all of them- has always been a fascination of mine. And if Tinder does one thing really well, it is giving you access to these crazy people all in one accessible, low-commitment, highly entertaining mobile app.

Habitat for Humanity House in Limbo, Waiting to be Instagrammed

MOORE, OK

After a series of devastating tornadoes ripped through Texas and Oklahoma in the spring of 2013, Habitat for Humanity stepped in to help rebuild and support the affected communities.

Kay Houston, a 79-year-old resident of Moore since childhood, has praised the efforts of local volunteers, stating, “They have been working day and night since the storm. I have back problems. I couldn’t even bend down to start sifting through the rubble. They moved bricks, dug out memories from my childhood, and kept me company. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for these strangers. They’re my angels.”

And over the next two years, these “angels” cleaned up the mess, raised funds so that Kay could live comfortably despite having nowhere to go, and even started building her a new home. “Last I heard, they finished construction in December. But I’m still waiting for the go-ahead to move in,” she said, a glint of disappointment in her eyes.

We caught up with Jenny Platten, head of the local Habitat office, who revealed that the permitting process has been completed. “All we’re waiting on now is for the house to be Instagrammed.” She continues, “We had a team of volunteers from the local college help with the painting, planting, and finishing touches. A sweet little blonde girl wearing a Habitat for Humanity t-shirt and carrying a really expensive handbag asked me to take a picture of her, but she hasn’t posted it on Instagram. Until that happens, there’s not much we can do for Ms. Houston.”

But Kay Houston claims that she will not be discouraged. “They have done so much for me already, I cannot be anything but grateful. These things take time, and I can wait.

Patten says she has seen this happen again and again in recent years. “Choosing the right filter can be very stressful, resulting in indecision and avoidance behaviors. And if her eyelashes didn’t appear long enough, or there was a funny wrinkle in her t-shirt, that’s an entirely separate round of edits that need to be made. She concludes, “We just need to have faith that the girl will take credit for her community service. Until then, it’s a waiting game.”

 

Note: This is a work of fiction and in no way represents the opinions of Habitat for Humanity. They are a badass organization that does amazing things for those in need. To find your local Habitat and see how you can contribute, click here.

 

 

Word of the Week: Agápe

“To love is to will the good of another.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

Not to be confused with the adjective used to describe my husband’s jaw when he sees me in something other than yoga pants, the Greek word agápe means love. (On second thought, maybe it is the same thing.)

In fact, the ancient Greeks had at least four words to define what we in English lump together as loveÉros is the form of love meaning sexual passion. (Nevermind, this one better describes the feeling when I’m wearing real clothes. Maybe we should start calling a dropped jaw éros instead of agape?) Philia is the affectionate love of friends and family. (And this would be the one that describes the feeling when I am wearing yoga pants.) Storge is reserved for the natural love between parents and children.

And agápe? The selfless love of others.

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis describes this love of others over self as the greatest love of all. “[Love] is a state not of feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.” It is a love of inclusion, not discrimination. It is a love of giving, not receiving. It is a love of humans, not personal agenda.

When Christian leaders denounce marriage equality under the guise of love, it is not agápe. When politicians use scare tactics to turn their backs on those in need, it is not agápe. In fact, I could not find a single Greek word that meant “the love used to justify discrimination and idleness.” Mother Teresa described it best when she said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.”

Agápe is Mother Teresa washing the wounds of lepers.

Agápe is New York City firefighters rushing into burning buildings on 9/11.

Agápe is the plight of Martin Luther King, Jr. to free an entire people from the binds of inequality and injustice.

Agápe is not “separate but equal.” Agápe is everything.

Word of the Week: Schadenfreude

“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” – General George S. Patton

This is quite possibly my favorite word, and I can’t even say “in the English language” because there is no English equivalent… which only heightens its appeal. While the feeling it represents is arguably one of the most detestable experienced by humankind, the word itself has the amazing ability to evoke so much. This one word explains why we are secretly happy when a young, hot celeb gains 70 pounds during pregnancy, why many waste countless hours watching train wreck reality TV, or why I am so easily entertained by Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. As Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when YOU fall into an open manhole and die.”

Though admittedly hateful, it does seem morally justifiable when an individual or society feels that the suffering party deserved what was coming to him. This conjures up images of Bernie Madoff being led away in handcuffs, the career of Tiger Woods going down the drain after news broke of his “alleged” affairs, or Flanders having to sell off all his possessions in the third season of The Simpsons. One of my all-time favorite songs, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” illustrates this form of Schadenfreude beautifully.

Abhorrent or justifiable, it appears that the feeling of schadenfreude is simply part of being human. It’s widely studied by social and evolutionary psychologists (like my hunky college professor, David Buss) and is a key component of Social Comparison Theory. Simplified, when people around us are suffering (particularly those we tend to envy), we feel better about ourselves. And when we feel better about ourselves, we are happier, more optimistic, and more productive. Given that it literally pays to be optimisticit’s easy to see how the occasional dose of Schadenfreude may serve to benefit everyone.

In the end, it turns out we’re ALL haters.

(For those (nerds) who want to explore this further, I recommend The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature, available aquí.)

Originally posted 7/9/2013 mommyhasapottymouth.tumblr.com, the mouthful that was my former blog.