Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Tinder, chubby thumbs, & the concept of attraction
Last month, I downloaded Tinder. Those of you who have also used the app will be all too familiar with the 'no, no, no, hell no, no, no, ooooh, hello...' confab that accompanies a Tinder browse. For the less acquainted, Tinder has arguably become the most popular virtual matchmaker on the market, thriving on the promise that 'it's how people meet. It's like real life, but better.' Tinder pulls information from your Facebook (not so handy when you've been on Facebook since 2008 and have liked all sorts of erm, embarrassing shit), and presents you with potential matches based on your gender/age selection, location, mutual friends, and shared interests (oh, you like 'mooing at cows' too?! Moovellous.)
The formula is easy-peasy-finger-swipe-squeezy. If you're interested/intrigued/feeling a twitch in your genitals, you swipe right, and if you're not, you swipe left, catapulting anybody you so wish to into the virtual black hole of inconspicuous rejection. Two right swipes create a match, and once matched you can sit on the toilet and send messages to each other such as a casual 'hey Kathy, what's up!', or a hilarious 'how much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice! HELLOO!', or even an infinitely arousing and perfectly punctuated 'hi hun id love to put my dick in u u up for sum fun?' Yes please. Absolutely. U up for a personality transplant?
There are perks to Tinder. It appeals to the immediacy of 21st century living and sits seductively within our extraordinarily busy, technology centric lives. It provides cracking entertainment on a soul-destroying, mediocre Thursday in the office. The set up of the app filters creeps more-so than its online counterparts. And similarly to every other Internet dating initiative in this world, there are non-creepy, innately kind, witty, intelligent, 'not-going-to-take-my-clothes-off-until-at-least-date-seven' people using it, who are suddenly more socially browsable and accessible than ever, and absolutely free tomorrow night. (There's also a certain level of juvenile satisfaction to be taken from left swiping your ex.) I understand why everybody's skipping on the Tinder playground, I'm just not too sure that I like it.
Whilst the Tinderati keep telling me that the app's ultimate thumb workout is a microcosm of real life, there's a fundamental difference. Attraction, righteous attraction, is not bred from a static aesthetic. Granted, we can look at a photo of a total stranger and proclaim within a single, devilish second that we 'soooo would', but attraction as a concept is thoroughly undermined in the virtual world. In actual life form, we are not static. We do not carefully manipulate our presentation to the same degree. We are laughing and socialising and moaning and saying things and doing cartwheels and scratching our balls and seeing and knowing and doing and being. We are existing in our physical entirety, present and alive and animated, and it is this whole presence that determines our appeal to others. To put it simply, if you clock a handsome stranger in a bar and then realise that he's ordering WKDs and slamming his fists on the table, cracking jokes about f*cking his best mate's Grandma, he's probably not going to seem so desirable. He'll get a right swipe on Tinder though. The complexity of attraction and science and human cognition does not cease to exist just because Tinder ignores it.
And whatever happened to the charms of chance and spontaneity and 'accidentally walking into people', anyway? Whatever happened to a bloody good, half-romantic story? No matter how advanced technology may have become, we can't engineer the inexplicable.The magic of serendipity and unforeseen connection is never going to be recreated on a cracked screen, fighting against a migraine and 10% battery. I've spoken to a couple of guys on Tinder who genuinely seemed pretty awesome, but I found myself completely uninitiated after a couple of hours simply because it all just felt a bit too immediate, a bit too compromising of a worthy mutual experience. I'm not asking for the world-changing plot-line of a timeless, classic novel (that would almost be as cringey as my 2008 Facebook likes), but I do now know for certain that I really don't want to 'meet' a man in a virtual setting; a setting where I'm further delaying the reveal of his inevitable flaws and his potential desire to sleep with his best mate's nan. I'm also sick of swiping when I should be wiping. (Still up for sum fun, hun? )
Welcome back, chubby thumbs. I missed you.