To Tinder or Not to Tinder?

Just last week I had the great pleasure of discovering the new dating app called “Tinder.”  I suppose I am a little late in the game, as my friends in more forward-thinking cities like Chicago or NYC have been “Tindering” for some time now.

To give you a little background, if you haven’t Tinderized your life yet, this app takes your first name, age and profile picture from Facebook and creates a mini profile for you.  You can change the pictures and add a little “About Me” section as well.  It also shares any “interests,” a.k.a. anything you have ever “Liked” on Facebook and matches them to guys (or girls) that you are searching.  You can pick the age range and distance directly from the GPS on your phone to find people you’d be more willing to date in your area.

And so, with all my pictures carefully chosen and a clever one-liner in my “About Me” section, a ventured on to check out the men in my city.  I opened the app and immediately a guy’s face pops up.  His name was Kevin, he was 25 and he loves the outdoors.  He was an average looking guy and we had similar “interests” in Cardinals Baseball and the Saint Louis Zoo (how precious).  At the bottom of his simple profile, there was an “X” on the left and a heart on the right.  I click the heart.

Why not, right?  Everyone likes to know when someone thinks they’re cute so I figure I am boosting his ego a bit if anything else.  As soon as I click the heart, a new screen pops up that says “You’re a Match!”  My eyes light up with joy and now I’m addicted.

On Tinder, if a guy likes your picture and you like his, this new matchmaker screen pops up and the communication lines have opened.  You can message each other and talk about whatever you think the other person wants to hear.

This is where my problems begin.  I highly dislike text message conversations.  No one can tell how funny I am in a text message.  My cynical tone falls flat against the screen of my phone.  I end up sounding like a huge bitch or a giant idiot…or both.  It’s usually both.  I feel like even saying “hi” I sound like an ass and thus, my conversations with any new guy ends instantly.

My first match, Kevin, messages me instantly and says the ever so eloquent, “Sup?”  I immediately start to dissect his question.  How should I respond? Should I sound equally dumb so that I don’t intimidate him with my intelligence?  Is he asking how I am feeling or is he asking what I’m currently doing? Does he like, really want to know about my life?  I decide to respond with the equally blasé, “Not much. You?”

Twenty minutes later, I stare at my screen, refreshing my Tinder every thirty seconds or so, waiting for Kevin Tinder’s response.  Since you can’t see last names, I gave everyone the last name Tinder.  Still nothing.

Okay, so, he hated me.

Our future relationship is officially over.  I decide to return to the Tinder profiles and forget about Kevin Tinder.  It wasn’t meant to be, I decided.  I swipe through a few more guys before I find a new future boyfriend.  This time I think I will have a more interesting response and that will keep him interested.  But what would be interesting? I could tell him I am watching a funny movie.  Guys love funny movies.  Or maybe that I am about to go to the gym? (Even though we all know I am sitting here with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of wine).

I have not been then stressed about a conversation since my last job interview.  Every word mattered and one slip could turn to radio silence.

I’d bee on Tinder for a full 24 hours before I told my girlfriends about my new obsession.  I wanted to have at least one ongoing conversation with a guy before I let them in on my secret dating strategy.  As fellow outdated St. Louisans, they were equally unaware of this new Tinder World.

One friend quickly met Keith Tinder, a Navy officer new to town.  My friends also gave their guys the last name “Tinder.”  It was our not-so-subtle code that we met said guy on Tinder.

They became equally obsessed.  It was like a bad drug.  No, it was like the bad side effects of a good drug.  It was the hangover without all the fun of drinking.  There was a moment of euphoria upon finding a match, knowing a guy out there in the world thought you were cute and then thirty seconds later you crash into reality and you’re back on the search to find someone to match with.

Craving attention from a cute guy or being told you’re beautiful is not a new thing for women.  Or men, really.  Who in this world doesn’t like being told they are good-looking?  It’s a universally wonderful feeling.

And yet, just like online dating websites, Tinder already has a bad rap.  Online dating is much more prevalent now, but there are still plenty of people who are skeptical of anything other than the old fashion 3D dating game.  If you’re not running into your future husband in the grocery store or at a happy hour, it’s just not right.  One of my married girlfriends was particularly against online dating.

“How do you know they are who they say they are?” she asked.

“How do you know the guy who buys you a drink in a bar isn’t a murderer?” I retorted.

I agree, it’s easier to make yourself seem more interesting online, putting up your best pictures, properly doctored through Instagram; where in real like “what you see is what you get.”  And yet, there are stigmas when it comes to meeting people in the real world as well.  You can’t meet anyone for a long-term relationship at a bar, those guys just want to get in your bed and out the door before the sun comes up.  Maybe at the mall? No, he’s obviously gay or shopping for his girlfriend.  The grocery store?  Maybe, but what is he buying?  All junk food? No thanks, he’s probably a lazy slob.

Stereotypes are everything.  And everyone everywhere is prone to snap judgments.  It’s nearly impossible not to scrutinize every little thing people do and say.

After five stressful days of half-assed Tindering, I decide to drop my account.  Not because I am against online dating, but I found that the guys on Tinder might be as skeptical as I am.  What if I am not the blonde in the picture?  Or what if the picture is four years old and twenty pounds lighter?  I suppose they don’t know the reality that is me any more than I know about them.

And besides, my sarcastic nature is so much easier to take in person than on paper.  I think I’ll take my chances at the grocery store.  You can find me in the booze aisle.  Er, was that too much information?