In defence of Tinder

a to zIf you had told me two months ago that, after a week of torrid stories about dating app Tinder, I would be leaping to its defence via blog, I would have laughed in your face. In fact, when my brother mentioned an article he had read about Tinder in Vanity Fair about three months ago and suggested I give it a try, I did indeed laugh in his face (though, it was via text message, so I laughed in his general direction). But, here I find myself now, having had some Tinder experiences of my own, wanting to point out its merits. Surprised? Yeah, me too.

So, for those of you who may have been establishing an abode under a rocky outcrop for the past wee while, Tinder is a wildly successful dating app – allowing singles to meet other singles. Isn’t that just internet dating? Well, yeah, but with a few key differences. Firstly, it is based on geographical distance – so you could say you only want to meet people within a 10k radius (added benefit? avoids weirdos from Hamilton. Sorry Hamilton…). This means if you are on a work trip to Wellington and fancy meeting someone you can.  Secondly, it is much more basic that most internet dating sites. It doesn’t care what you do for a living, what qualifications you have, what you do in your spare time. In fact, most guys I have seen simply just have their photos up and nothing else (though, a tip – if you have terrible photos, and so so so many seem to, it might pay to talk yourself up a bit with some text. Unless spelling and grammar is a problem for you, in which case you can move on anyway). Thirdly, it is an app for your phone that allows you to swipe to the left if you are not interested and to the right if you might be interested. If you like them and they like you then you have a ‘match’ and are connected via the messaging part of the app. So, there you go, Tinder for Beginners.

I was definitely of the view a few months back that Tinder was all about ‘hook ups’ – finding out who was ‘available’ and ‘interested’ in your general vicinity and meeting up for the purposes of you know what (I am sorry, the Catholic school girl in me still requires me to use euphemisms here). My knowledge of Tinder was based on pop culture references* (like this brilliant Jono and Ben sketch) and a few horror stories I had read about it in the media (for example the Gold Coast balcony story). However, I was chatting to a work colleague and she mentioned that she had been dating a guy for a while who she had met on Tinder. So I peppered her with questions – wasn’t it just for hook ups? Weren’t the guys all sleazy? Isn’t it really risky? Which she answered so well that I roped in a friend and we both signed up for Tinder that night. Just to, you know, try it out…

I made clear on my profile that I was looking for a relationship, so that has probably helped put off guys looking for something…simpler. I have also added a bit of text about myself – so that they know I am ideally looking for someone smart, social and open to in depth discussions about movies (cos really, they are all deal breakers). Despite these limitations I still had a decent amount of traffic to start off with, and found myself chatting to around three guys who all seemed pretty normal. One in particular seemed decent and interesting, so after a few days of chatting we arranged to meet up. Of course, being the sensible and safe person that I am, I made sure to make it a public place of my choosing, and that at least one friend knew where I was and who I was with. As it turned out, the precautions were unnecessary as Trevor (not his real name), was indeed a decent bloke, and by the end of the date I was thinking – hey, maybe this Tinder thing isn’t so bad after all! As it turned out – while Trevor was a lovely guy – after date two I had to pull the plug due to complete lack of chemistry/spark. But, for a first Tinder experience, it was a pretty good one.

So, to everyone who has been hating on Tinder recently, I will say this. There are no more risks involved in meeting a guy on Tinder than there are in meeting a guy randomly at the pub. In fact, it is probably far less risky. For a start, you get to decide you are interested first – you don’t have random losers coming up to you and following you around all night (They can’t, because you haven’t matched!) Once you have a match you then get to chat with them online and use this to determine whether or not they might be a serial killer. Sure, it may not be full proof, but at least you get to do it from the comfort of your couch and usually in a pretty sober state. I would suggest we are better judges of character while sober via the internet than we are five drinks down at Danny O’Doolan’s at the Viaduct. And you can then be in control of when and how you meet up. Of course you should be careful and of course you should scarper should your gut tell you something dodgy is afoot (and again, your gut is probably more reliable in this type of scenario than the ‘out drinking with your mates’ one).

As my colleague pointed out, Tinder is the online equivalent of meeting a guy at a bar. You judge them solely based on what they look like (shallow, but true) or maybe if you recognise their friends (Tinder links to Facebook so if you have friends in common, which is likely in tiny wee Auckland, it will tell you). This is advantageous for people like me who might dismiss people if they vote National, didn’t go to uni or work as a lawyer (only one of those three things is true…honest ;-)). I might meet them, fall head over heels and THEN find out they vote ACT and decide ‘who cares’ (though really, that is very unlikely). Though it does mean a lot comes down to the photo. And there are some TERRIBLE photos on there. Like, seriously boys – what are you thinking??? Though, full credit to the guy with a photo of him in his grey track pants holding a tabby cat also wearing grey track pants – genius.

So, that is my experience of Tinder – not so bad at all. If you have your head on straight, take some precautions and use it sensibly, then Tinder could well be the dating app that finds your future wife/husband. I am still working on that…maybe the guy with the cat photo is my next match 😉

*For further Tinder amusement a recent episode of New Girl featured a Tinder-like app called Dice and some hilarious pearls of wisdom from Schmidt about how best to utilise it. Also new show A to Z (only on TVNZ On Demand and well worth checking out) had a similar app featured in its second episode, again to amusing effect.

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