If we are to consider shopping online to dating, perhaps we should look at a real-world extension of the metaphor. Imagine, for a moment, instead of being a viewbot designed to inflate advertising revenue, you are instead a human being, who requires caloric intake. Upon out on the town, which you can do, having a physical body, you are presented with two choices. One is a three star restaurant, not overly expensive, serving a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins, along with a reasonable selection of ethanol and water mixtures. The other is Super Macs Awesome Johns, a fast food chain which serves a selection of very cheap, overly processed foods, available within 30 seconds of ordering.
If eating were dating, Awesome Johns would be Tinder.
Tinder is not a tool used to meet the love of your life. Like fast food, it is quick, easy, and readily available. It provides maximum reward with minimal effort – promising a wide variety of bland and inoffensive ways to sate your appetite, if not as satisfyingly and completely as dating does.
There is nothing wrong with a quick bite, and there’s nothing wrong with what Tinder provides. While relationships can and do arise out of a quick and easy encounter on Tinder, it can only offer what dating has always offered – what the person you’re meeting is willing to give.
There can be little doubt that Tinder excels at what it does. It provides a simple, intuitive way for people to get in contact with people they find attractive. Instead of a dimly lit nightclub or teenage disco, we can now look through the profiles of hundreds of potential lovers in our underwear on the couch at 3am watching reruns on Dave.
I am no fan of Tinder – but that’s because I’m not looking for potential hook-ups. And in the same way I don’t walk into Awesome Johns and order liver, lima beans and a glass of chianti, I don’t approach Tinder looking for love. Approaching Tinder looking for anything other than a hookup is rolling a dice – and the only difference between trying to attract a sexual partner on Tinder and in meat space (which you definitely inhabit) is now photography students are a lot more appealing.
Conor J. Murphy is a UCD student who drinks a lot of awful beers and writes poetry.