It has never been easier to meet people. We have apps designed to help newcomers to cities find other newcomers, for soccer enthusiasts to find other soccer enthusiasts, and, of course, singles to meet other singles.
The app that gets brought up most often as one of the most common and popular is Tinder. Articles titled ?10 things Tinder gets wrong? or ?I met my soulmate on Tinder and so can you!? get written up almost every hour. For the most part, these articles don?t bother me. I know how I use Tinder and why I use Tinder ? I don?t need to argue with people about how they?re using it. But last week I came across an article in Wired that I disagreed with. I wanted to voice my counterargument to the piece and, as I try to write more about sex, relationships, and technology in general, thought it would make sense for a weekend post.
The article is called ?Sorry, But if You?re Married, Browsing Tinder Totally Makes You a Snake,? which is both intriguing and slightly insulting right off the bat. If we?re being honest, it?s rarely that being referred to as a snake is a good thing?unless you?re discussing the size of a cock you recently encountered. That may be considered a compliment to the gentleman you were with. But in this situation, being singled out as a snake isn?t a positive notion.
The question posed in the article is whether or not it?s okay for a married person, whom I assume is in a monogamous relationship, can use Tinder without the intention of actually contacting or talking to anyone. The author?s response is that, while he believes the reader in question is inherently good-hearted, Tinder is not a place for monogamous, married people and they should refrain from joining it, even if there?s no intention of ever actually doing anything on it.
?But the truth is, as fascinated as many of us married people are by Tinder, it?s just not a place for us,? the author writes. ?We are an invasive species. You?d be occupying a space you just shouldn?t occupy. The moral question here, I realized, hinges not just on your good faith toward your wife but on your good faith toward the many strangers you?d also ? just by virtue of setting up a profile ? be entering into a relationship with.?
I don?t think the author is wrong per se, but I do think he isn?t well informed about how people use Tinder. Yes, some people use Tinder to find others to date. I use Tinder to find people to fuck. But I also know plenty of people who use Tinder as a way of looking for new friendships and, even more interestingly, use Tinder as a way of boosting their own confidence in themselves.
Everything about your Tinder profile is a specific image of how you want the world to see you. You tell them you?re interested in hockey, poetry, and love sitting at home in your underwear binging 30 Rock for the tenth time. You pick a flattering selfie, a group shot with friends, and a funny photo to show off your sense of humor and unique personality. What you?re asking for on Tinder, more than anything else, is for someone to read your description, flip through your photos, and decide that you?re either attractive enough or cool enough to warrant a like. It?s not a great system, but when a message appears on screen alerting you to the fact that you?ve matched with someone, it does help boost your ego a little.
For so many people, it can be tough or downright anxiety inducing to meet new people ? even just for friendships. Having an app like Tinder where you can very specifically say that you?re not looking for anything but just want to meet new friends or see what all the hubbub is about can be a big, emotional relief.
There have been times in my life where I?ve needed to feel some kind of external validation and I?ve turned to Tinder. I wasn?t in the mood to meet anyone, I didn?t want to have a simple hookup, and I was in a relationship. Although it was non-monogamous, there was still the fact that I was laying in bed flipping through people on Tinder instead of talking to my partner at the time.
I don?t think there?s anything wrong with this. I think people are drawn to checking out other humans and Tinder makes it feel like a game. ?Do you want to chat or keep playing?? is a message that comes up on screen after you?ve matched with someone. There?s a sense of playfulness with the app because it?s not asking you to invest in someone; instead, it?s asking you to swipe through people like you would a catalogue book.
There?s a lot to be said about the way we approach human beings as dinner menu options at an all you can eat buffet, but in this specific regard, what the reader is asking for is validation that it?s okay for him to swipe through a series of people he has no intention to meet. Maybe they needs something to do while on the subway. Or maybe they need a new activity for pooping.
The one aspect I will agree with the author on is that the readers should tell his or her partner. He or she has a right to know, and ultimately, there?s no harm in exploring on Tinder. But hiding something from a partner is never a good idea.
What this comes down to is being more open with our partners about what we need out of a relationship or our personal life. It?s important to be open about all of this to avoid feeling like you have to look for other ways of getting it. It sounds like this reader just wants a boost for their ego ? for someone to like him just so he or she knows they still have it.
Here?s an important aspect of this situation to bring up: They don?t want to engage with people, they want to engage with the app. They want the app to respond, not a person. It?s easy to forget with apps like Tinder that these are real people. It?s why it?s become so easy to ghost someone that you?ve been talking to for three weeks on it. In a way, we forget these are real people and because of that, we can go about our own ways and not care about what we?re doing. If we don?t actually know these people, then how are they different from the hundreds of people we Tweet at every day or the millions of people we walk past in our cities?
There isn?t one, and that?s where the reader is coming from. The reader isn?t thinking of anything beyond what they need in that moment, and although that may be seem selfish, I understand it. It?s what so many Tinder users rely on the app for and I don?t think it?s something we should villianize.
Now, if the reader did start engaging with people beyond what they had intended, didn?t tell their spouse, and intentionally led on others using the app for a more direct purpose, that would be a problem. As the author points out, that?s being entirely selfish and, in turn, hurting others. But if the reader uses Tinder in the way they suggest, as a method of boosting their self esteem and alleviating boredom, I see nothing wrong with that.
And I bet you the majority of Tinder users on the app for similar purposes wouldn?t either.