By Becca Murdoch
Nope. No thank you. Not a chance in hell.
These were just a few -and some of my milder thoughts -on using millennial dating app/hook-up platform, Tinder. We’ve all heard horror stories about online dating, most of them the warnings of our tech-wary mothers, and we’ve all made our fair share of snarky comments about apps like Tinder.
I am not excluding myself from the mix. I too resisted Tinder from the get-go, but out of curiosity found myself downloading the app and consequently spending hours swiping away through hundreds of Tuscaloosa’s most eligible bachelors. Despite matching with quite a few guys, I refused to pull the trigger and let anything happen.
Call it what you will — my mother’s warnings subconsciously warding me off, fear of being kidnapped Taken style, or sheer apathy on my part toward any of these suitors. For some reason, Tinder just wasn’t going to happen for me.
That was true until I was assigned this story and bit the metaphorical bullet for the sake of journalistic integrity. Sorry, mom, your daughter is going on a Tinder date.
A year ago, the idea of a pseudo-date with a complete and total stranger was completely out of the realm of possibility. I thought there were only a few options for how that encounter would transpire: a) I am immediately kidnapped and murdered, proving every parent’s paranoid neuroses to be true, b) I am paralyzed with anxiety and have absolutely nothing interesting to say at all, or c) they are the most boring person to ever grace the planet, and I will have to listen to them tell me about their super-rad intramural team and how much they dominate on the field/court/whatever.
Present-day Becca has found life to be so weird, wonderful and terrible that these fears do not affect her much. The worst thing that could happen is I lose half an hour of my day to no benefit. I mean, murder is of course always the worst-case scenario, but the probability of that happening is so slim, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.
First comes the profile, then comes marriage, then comes an embarrassing story to tell your future grandchildren. Thankfully, Tinder is linked to Facebook, which removes the hurdle of coming up with the perfect username to encompass the entirety of your totally desirable personality.
Now for the pictures; it’s time to cultivate the most alluring version of yourself without borderline catfishing the person on the receiving end. For people like me who rarely upload any photos, this is where Tinder gets tricky.
Do you use the picture from two years ago where you look like you almost have abs? What about that picture of you and your dog? Does that make you look like a sensitive animal lover? Does that even matter?
Maybe it’s safer to go with a few recent tagged pictures, the ones that show that you have friends and like to have a good time, but are also very down-to-earth and low maintenance.
With pictures carefully, but not too carefully selected, we’re on to the bio. How do you show that you’re witty and cool without seeming like you’re trying too hard to appear witty and cool? In my case, a Drake lyric is the obvious choice.
Now that my profile is set, I’m feeling pretty confident. I change the discovery settings to a more limited and far less creepy age range than 18-50 years old and adjust the location settings to show only people within a 15-mile radius. I am not taking a road trip for a Tinder date.
The hunt is on. I start swiping right for the cuties with potential and left for the hard passes – there is a significantly higher rate of left swipes. The Tuscaloosa Tinder population is slightly disappointing and led me to developing a list of red flags that issued immediate left swipes.
Becca’s List of For Sure No-Go’s
Group Pictures – Which one are you? There is no way anyone would hide themselves in a picture with 50 other dudes if they have a reasonably human-looking face. I am not going to play I Spy in your pledge class photo. There is no way not to be disappointed in this situation.
Sunglasses – Or really any other instance of intentional face concealment. I don’t know if you just don’t have any good face pics or if you’re trying to hide a Sloth-from-the-Goonies-esque disfiguration, but either way, I’m wary.
Blatant Display of Alcoholism – Why do you have to be double-fisting two Natty Lights in your very first picture? I get it, you are clearly killing it at college, but this is just tasteless, and not just because it’s Natty Light. By the way, ew.
Confederate Flags – Does this really need an explanation? Please don’t be this person or ever swipe right for this person.
As for the bios, I found most to be fairly bland and vague. Hoping to find one potential soulmate that also used a Drake lyric to sum themselves up, I was unfortunately disappointed.
After swiping for what felt like an infinity of basic boys, I accumulated a handful of possible date mates. In a bit of a time crunch due to the article’s deadline, I sent the first shout into the romantic void, a shining example of a modern, independent feminist woman’s power in the dating world. My first message, you ask? Hi [silly ghost emoji].
And so the small talk begins. Where are you from? What are you studying? Insert light-hearted attempts at banter here.
With such a short window of time to charm my matches, it was up to me to suggest a meet-up with one of the more promising (and clearly interested) candidates. The ball was in my court and I decided to play it safe, and what’s safer than Sunday lunch at Chipotle?
I arrived at Chipotle precisely at our agreed meeting time, and then proceeded to wait 10 minutes for my match to make an appearance. Okay, so he didn’t look exactly like his profile picture and could have done without the faded Bama baseball cap, but I didn’t feel completely hoodwinked by his profile.
Our next half hour was spent playing the traditional dating get-to-know-you game. We talked about our hometowns and majors, devoting a surprising amount of time to discussing autumnal weather and wardrobe. He talked more; I was fine listening and eating my burrito bowl. Conversation flowed with some bumps that were few and far between.
It was a fine way to spend my Sunday afternoon. I didn’t feel a world-shaking spark or irresistible chemistry but also didn’t find myself sold into the sex-slave trade the next morning, so I would chalk this date up to a win.
Tinder might not be my preferred way to find love, but I can’t deny that it removes some of the coy complications of dating. People on Tinder are typically clear with their intentions, virtuous or otherwise. Or at least they are when they’re not using the app as a façade for an attempt at investigative journalism.
To all you Tinder enthusiasts out there, keep on swiping.