College is a time for experimentation and expansion of horizons. Some students take a more, um, licentious route than others. Nearly everyone loses some kind of interpersonal or sexual inhibitions when they are on their own for the first time, and a lot of people end up with one-time sexual encounters with strangers, no strings attached. It’s almost like a game. Cursory Eye-contact with a stranger in the PIKE basement turns into a 4 AM Stride of Pride back home faster than you can say hook up culture. However, I’m SO not here to talk about no-strings attached sex in college. I’m writing this to discuss the thing that, these days, turns finding a date or one-night stand into an ACTUAL game: Tinder.
I went through my first year of college without getting the app. I didn’t see its value when it comes to actually meeting people, and using it to find a one-night stand just seemed creepy. However, a couple days ago, my sister, good friend, and I, decided to download the app out of irony and intrigue. And, let me say, I have realized tinder is melting pot of intentions and personalities. There are those who are simply looking for dates in their areas, those who think a swipe to the right is code for “yes, I want the D”, those who are just looking to play the game and get little ego boosts from matches, and, people from the absolute strangest parts of the 10-mile “discover” radius.
I now aim to share my ten most interesting realizations and experiences that I have had during my short stay in the world of tinder. Without further ado:
1. Straight boys have no idea what constitutes a good profile picture
Since the dawn of time, humanity has mused about the fundamental differences between the sexes. While I don’t claim to be a philosopher or a humanitarian expert in any capacity, I think I’ve figured out the rudiments of the gender gap: straight girls slave over their profile pictures. Straight guys DO NOT. Look, I don’t consider myself a particularly beautiful person. However, each of my profile pictures is held to magazine-cover standards. I run around, looking for the perfect balance of natural and artificial light. My pre-profile picture makeup takes twice as long as my everyday face. I spend so much precious time trying to create angles that say “I’m pretty. And natural. And fun. But also witty. And smart. HAHAHAHAH YAYA LOVE ME.” Straight boys on Tinder? 50% of them are sporting mirror pictures, under unflattering florescent lights. Others are staring into the camera without a hint of a smile or even a smirk. Some photos are from just plain weird angles. These boys have never heard of afterlight or the Luxe feature on Instagram. Hell, they’ve probably never even plucked their eyebrows before a selfie-session. Damn. Boys, please up your selfie game.
2. Many boys on tinder are highly opposed to shirts.
Look, I appreciate a glorious, All-American six-pack as much as the next woman. But Tinder has a very high skin-to-shirt ratio compared to the real world. Not that I’m complaining. However, please know that if you’re using your abs to overcompensate for any other facet of yourself, we will find out. Do with that what you will.
3. Tinder is a bona-fide free for all, and apparently that also includes standard conventions of the English Language.
If there is one thing that many tinder users DON’T like, it’s using punctuation. I received a message on one occasion that was “so wut type of thing do u like?” Um, I like it when people know how to spell the word “what”, for one thing. Sorry. Try again.
4. It’s a common occurrence to receive a message that simply reads “sex?” or “dtf??”
This makes the whole frat-party DFMO scenario look like a Victorian courtship ritual.
5. You may, if your match is especially forward, receive a complimentary, um, visual.
My advice, make a dick-pic drinking game. If he includes a number, drink. If he sends a picture and then asks if you like what you see, drink more. If it’s a mirror picture, you may lose your faith in humanity, so get off tinder and finish half the bottle.
6. Swiping right on a friend or acquaintance can lead to a pleasant surprise.
You know that guy in high school who you thought kind of looked like a member of the Kennedy family and always made you blush when he ranted about the New York State income tax? Did you happen to come across him on tinder? Swipe away. He will never know (s/o to the app’s founders who knew how badly Gen-Y handles rejection.) Also, if you end up with a match, it’s one hell of an ego boost. Even if you squeal in delight, screenshot the match, and don’t actually talk to him. It’s fine.
7. On the same token, swiping right on a friend or acquaintance could mean absolutely nothing.
It could also serve as a “wave hello”, an acknowledgement of their presence. So it could mean nothing. OR EVERYTHING. Mixed signals are the best*!
8. A lot of guys in tinder have other girls in their profile picture.
That always puzzles me. Is that your girlfriend? Do you want to prove that you hang out with cute girls? Am I supposed to be jealous of her? Idk. There was one guy who had a prom shot as his profile picture, and he and his date looked eerily similar. Like, brother-sister similar. Ew. If I wanted to see that I would read Flowers in the Attic.
9. Check the distance
This is actually a matter of safety. You can set your distance preferences to a certain number of miles away from you. Tinder will also tell you how far away you are to a prospective match. The other day, I “matched” with someone who messaged me saying it was his first time in New York and he wanted to know about it. I had no intention of talking to him and ignored his message. He was shown less than a mile away from me. That got me a little nervous. Less than a mile? He’s somewhere between my home and the library? Creepy. What if he tries to find me? This might be my constant anxiety talking, but you can never be too sure. If someone is close to you, distance wise, think before you swipe.
10. Using Tinder is not a shameful practice.
I had my doubts, figured that using a dating app produced some sort of stigma that you were thirsty or lonely. I was petrified to find people that I knew personally. However, if you find them, remember that they are on Tinder as well. You’re both “guilty” here. Additionally, it’s nothing to feel guilty about. While those in older generations might remain skeptic about tinder and apps like it, the truth is that it provides for entertainment, little ego boosts, and may even lead to friendships and relationships, if you want to use it for that purpose. So, swipe away, my friends. But use your judgment.