Tinder is the latest development in virtual social interaction, combining the randomness of Chat Roulette, the self-editing of Facebook and the perversion of Adult Friend Finder to forge one demented and equally addictive cyber love child.
Tinder is an automated matchmaker that uses your Facebook profile and GPS location services to bring you into contact with various other (presumably) single adults to browse through like an intimacy fantasy catalogue. Users receive pictures from the application to their smartphone, in which they can either “like” for a possible “match” or “swipe” into virtual oblivion, and view the next photographed hopeful in an ever-growing sequence of social and romantic laziness. Since the development of social media in the early 2000s, users have been subject to stranger stalking by the dirty-minded members of the virtual world. Tinder is taking the idea of “Facebook creeping” and making it socially acceptable.
Working under the slogan It’s like real life but better, Tinder aims to further inflate the notions of superficiality, arising from the assumption that looks are the lone catalyst of human attraction. It’s hard to argue that beauty is not at least a primary spark of romantic interest, but it is the most fleeting. There are a few more important human subtleties like sense of humour, practiced values and romantic chemistry, all of which cannot be conveyed (at least not honestly) in a photograph or profile.
Even Tinder rooting their matchmaking in physical attributes is innately flawed. It ignores the basic fact that all the images and virtual representations of individuals are highly self-edited. People essentially become the stars of their own lives, hyper-inflating their images to an impossible standard. No one ever looks like they do in their most carefully angled photograph or targeted caption. They talk about the treatment of sexual or romantic relationships like it’s online shopping— somehow the clothes never look as good as they did on the airbrushed model.
No longer does one require courage to start a real-time conversation with a love interest, for the looming threat of rejection has been completely abolished. Forget romance. Forget charm. Just click away. Sadly, without the risk of consequence, the social interaction is no longer human. With a virtual shield to hide the insecurities and the slips-of-tongue, the best you can hope for is highly scripted games of conversational chess.
The sheer volume of users and the influx of photos make the task of “settling for one” all the more daunting. It’s the same as choosing a meal at a restaurant that has a novel-size menu. When humans are overwhelmed with options, they have a harder time reaching a decision out of the fear that they are losing the options dismissed by that single choice. In an age of cultural entitlement, where we want everything at our fingertips instantly, I fear that we are sacrificing the most complex characteristics of our humanity for the sake of convenience. Simplifying human attraction to the heartlessness of a cellphone application is no doubt a step in the wrong direction, subjecting romantic interaction to the industrial principle of quantity over quality. At best Tinder is a growing cesspool for superficial communication. At worst, Tinder is the lethal dagger in the bleeding heart of chivalry.