Love at first swipe

by Kalah Siegel

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tinder photo

Siegel gives Tinder a try despite her former criticism.

“Are you a parking ticket? Because you have fine written all over you,” read the message I woke up to on my phone this morning.

“You’re like a snowflake: beautiful, unique and with just one touch from me, you’ll melt,” said another message I received yesterday.

“Yo face. I like it,” is the simple, to the point message that chimed in my inbox the day before

If you haven’t guessed where I’ve been meeting these charmers, then you’re probably in some lovey-dovey relationship that makes all your single friends gag. For those who receive the same cheesy pick-up lines, you know the truth: I, Kalah Siegel, have caved and joined Tinder.

My journey started with an article I wrote presenting Tinder’s executive staff as sexist children and knocked the app for being the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with the “selfie generation.”

I still stand by my opinion that the men behind the app are immature, racist and sexist. Considering the recent harassment claims made by Tinder’s former vice president of marketing, these complaints are too apparent to deny.

However, after the article came out I questioned my hasty criticism about the app itself. I felt inauthentic for my quick, negative assumptions about the app.

I clicked download.

I was hell-bent on either proving my criticism, or becoming pleasantly and shockingly surprised that my easy judgment was wrong. I set up my account and began swiping.

For those of you lovebirds who know virtually nothing about the app, a swipe to the right indicates you find the person attractive and/or interesting. A swipe to the left is a simple decline. If you and the other person both swipe right get excited: it’s a match! Once a match is made, you can then message one another through the app to see if there’s any merit to your mutual attraction.

I started noticing patterns of my preferences. Adorable puppy picture: right swipe. Unidentified child: left swipe. Classic picture with the grandparents: right swipe. Every single photo is of a fishing trip: really, do you do anything else besides fish? Left swipe.

Then the matches began, which lead to ridiculous pick-up-lines galore. It’s amazing the things people will say to strangers behind the comfort of their screens. I got everything from marriage proposals to bank robbery accomplice offers (because I look like trouble, get it?).

While it was wildly entertaining and flattering to some degree, my interactions felt artificial. Tinder is like playing a game. Even the verbiage of the app says things like “keep playing,” which promotes an unrealistic dating environment.

As the lighthearted dating-game concept sunk in, I started to wonder if the seemingly normal people I had managed to match were really that; or was I was being catfished by everyone who seemed intelligent, ridiculously good-looking and interesting?

My inquisitive self had to find out. I took my quest a step further and accepted a date offer. A Tinder date is similar to a blind date. Except if it goes terribly wrong, you can’t blame your friends for poor matchmaking skills.

The good news is I wasn’t murdered, which in my mind is a definite possibility while meeting a stranger. Did I meet my soul mate on this date? Probably not, but I can’t deny I had a good time.

My fear of being catfished was not an issue. The guy looked like his pictures and he was just as interesting and intelligent in person as he was over the app. I got to try something new and meet someone new, which in my opinion is what dating is all about.

Most of my initial criticism of Tinder came from a traditional dating mindset. I didn’t like the idea of speed dating while lounging on the couch because in my mind, that’s not how epic love stories are made. Jack Dawson and Rose Bukater didn’t meet on Tinder.

With that being said, I think my Tinder experience has given me a more realistic idea about dating. Yes, Tinder is a game—there are good players and bad. It’s vain and creepy at times. However, it also seems to encompass everything our generation demands in most aspects of our lives. It’s not a romantic notion, but we want things to be instant, efficient and accurate. Tinder delivers on those demands.

Most people I know aren’t looking for “The One” on Tinder. As twenty-somethings, a vital part of being young is experiencing new things and meeting new people. If that means indulging in the occasional swipe sesh, so be it—I won’t judge.

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