Tinder – it’s like Jstor for your genitals

I’m on Tinder. You better believe it. No longer is Scotland safe. I never would have thought of doing it back in South Africa, but here I am. It’s just me and my phone, and when my like quota is returned to me, a-swiping I shall go. However, it may be of little surprise to you all that Tinder is home to a whole bunch of things that piss me off. Not to mention how people fit it into their own love narratives. We’ve come a long way from getting rejected in person at a club, and now we can be rejected in the comfort of our own homes.

Firstly, what is Tinder? Tinder is a mobile dating app (a term used lightly) that links up with your Facebook, to make sure that the person you are pretending to be doesn’t already not exist. Once you’re logged in, you pick a couple of profile pictures, write up a bio, and your account is created. You then tell your phone what you’re looking for in terms of gender, age, and how far you’re willing to go (geographically not sexually. It’s Tinder, nobody is saying no to anything). You are then greeted, one by one, by the first names and faces of all the people who meet your criteria. If you want to know more, you can tap their picture and it’ll show you their bio, other pictures, and common friends and likes on Facebook.

Then comes the fun bit. Swiping. Tinder becomes a game of “would you?” and you swipe left for no and right for yes. This is prejudice at its most brutal. To Anglicise it, it is a literal survival of the fittest. Your thumb becomes a little windscreen wiper as you swipe away the love bugs, infatuation arachnids, and a couple of slow birds, hoping for a match.  A match is when someone you liked (swiped right on) has done the same for you. You are sent a notification of the match, and only then can you send messages to each other via Tinder.  It’s that simple, and that’s why Tinder turns into a game, and then an interesting account on human condition.

Similar to mobile games, it is most often frequented while taking a shit, pairing two sets of feelings that should perhaps be left separate as often as possible (depending your favourite thing to do with cups). Then, when you run out of people to swipe and you have no matches, you find out how quickly your standards will plummet at the thought of possibly getting lucky. One goes from looking for hot chicks around your age within walking distance, to women that are alive, legal, and require a short swim and a few vaccines to get to. This is my first problem with Tinder, as you have to place each person permanently in a yes or no category, leaving not much grey area. The one tactic used to try and sort this out is perhaps the worst part about Tinder: the bios.

Bios are limited stories that one writes about oneself to completely turn anyone off of ever meeting them. Like a bumper sticker for your face. They are unregulated, unoriginal, and understandably difficult to write. But here’s the basic structure of any girl’s bio:

Start off by saying that you hate bios and never know what to write in them. Nothing gets me interested like saying 500 characters is too much to sum up your life and interests. Then, you’re entitled to tell everyone what you don’t want, rather than what you do.  This can be cheekily close-minded “no torries”, or blatantly prejudice “Spaniards need not apply”, but usually just very vague “No fuk bois”.

but out out

Having narrowed the field by nothing, it is now your duty to tell me that you like animals. All girls on Tinder love animals, and I find some correlation with whomever said that pets are a way of comforting people who have lucked out with their own species. Cats, dogs, horses, anything with a cute face that can’t talk will do. Perhaps this is to make up for those with not so cute faces, who can’t shut the fuck up. For extra points, feel free to tell me, a real person of interest, that you will never love me as much as you love your dog. Guys really don’t want to hear that. “But Rabbit,” you exclaim in between dying your hair and shampooing under your arms, “maybe everything girls do isn’t out there to impress guys.” Well, then you better teach Fluffy how to use Tinder pretty fucking quickly, because if he’s struggling to use his paws to swipe right on your profile, there are a few other needs that he may have trouble fulfilling for you. Although it may bring new meaning to calling your horse “Seabiscuit”.

A very important aspect is to make sure you mention your height and how anyone under your height is pathetic. Unfortunately this trend has not extended to putting down your weight as well. As a chap that’s not particularly tall myself, I’d always found that we’re all the same height lying down, but alas, this is not a popular belief. Perhaps it’s a way of evening out the odds from my brilliant charm, unparalleled wit, and beautiful fucking face.

The next thing you just have to do is tell me what to do if we match. This is my favourite, being ordered around before we actually agree that we like each other. First, although you identify as a feminist, you need to tell me that as a guy I have to message first, just because. Ok fine, I suppose gender roles are only an issue when they’re an issue to you, but I can live with that. Next, you got to tell me that you do not respond to my just saying hello or asking how you are because it’s boring. Alright, that makes sense. Then, you need to tell me that everything that you’ve ranted about in your bio is also off limits as a topic, since you’re tired of talking about it. This also includes all outlying factors on your pictures. Finally, having ruled out all communication outside of sending dismembered body parts of family members, you need to have the audacity to add “feel free to ask me anything J” at the end of it all.

However, bios are useful in having some flagwords to pick up on that will tell you more about the person than you need to know. These go beyond the obvious “vegan”, “cross fitter”, or “genocidal ethnic cleanser”. For example, the next  step in most bios is to avoid clear orientations so that I don’t know what you want. Searching for guys, girls, or guys and girls is filtered by your own search, but people feel the need to mention that they are bisexual. If you feel the need to, then fine. But now pansexual , sapiosexual, demisexual, and barrsexual are thrown into the mix. I’m not tearing into people’s orientations, it’s just that all of those terms pretty much fancy ways of telling me that I am eligible and that’s all I need to know. Except for the last one, which I made up in case you were about to get offended, to show you how little you know what you’re talking about.

Tinder only allows you to sign up as male or female, which does actually feel a bit archaic. They seem to be in discussions to try and accommodate people without pulling a Facebook and listing 71 different types of genders (which is actually what it does have). Practically, aligning all sorts of genders and orientations is a programming nightmare, one that Tinder has fallen a bit behind on and now has to play catch up to. I agree your parts are of little concern to other people, but if you’re matching with them on Tinder, it literally becomes their fucking business. The gender thing is getting pretty confusing these days and I’ve not made my mind up on it yet. I feel the socially-constructed genders people have trouble with are not as concrete as they are made out to be, but that’s a rant that requires a bit more research and a lot more thought. For now I rate people can believe gender to be fluid, as long as they respect that we’re not all into cocktails. But such is the spice of life, and maybe some things are just an acquired taste.

hole out

I enjoy reading bios, and had no idea how sexy some people find the Oxford comma, but apparently most don’t even get that far. It’s all about the profile pictures. The first one is the most important, as this is the one that shows up when most people make the call, even though up to six can be uploaded. Once again, there are a few tactics that the women this side employ:

First of all is the classic selfie, strategically taken in a way that you can’t see their body. Fair enough, and if you’re not confident in your face, feel free to make it as low quality as your smartphone will allow. Ensure that the picture says that your eyebrows are more important than any person has ever been or ever will be. Then, put a whole bunch of group photos, often with the same group so I have no idea which is you. Dictate in your bio which one you are rather than going through the laborious task of actually finding a picture of yourself. It’s amazing that, in a world where beauty is pretty subjective, in a picture of two girls, the profile will always belong to the one you’re less attracted to. Law of probability suggest that this cannot be. Law of probability is wrong. It’s kind of like needing to try a USB stick three different ways before it fits. It makes no sense, but we know it to be true.

Next is the boob-shot. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a boob man myself (that is a guy that’s into boobs, not a guy that has been bitten by a radio-active boob – thanks Ed Byrne) and I also believe in playing the hand that you’re dealt. If the Divine Potter saw fit to put some extra work into you, show them off as much as someone who exploits their nice legs, eyes, or smile. But there really needs to be a bit of tact. British girls own clothes that defy all sorts of laws and often make the nicest part of a girl look not so nice. It gets a bit much when five of your six photos are 90% boob. The same goes for pouting or “duck face” where girls put their lips together as if they are about to fellate a straw scarecrow in an effort to look a bit more like a Kardashian. Top it all off with the dog filter from Snapchat, just in case you were starting to look original.

cunt out

So I made my profile. I got six photos of just me at various angles. They are all singular pictures so it is clear who I am, but unclear that I am shorter than a lot of people. I then wrote a titillating bio, highlighting my likes, interests, and opinions, and pointed out that I am South African because being foreign makes you special. I then included a conclusion, since most of the girls can’t read (due to their education not age, Tinder won’t go lower than 18, I checked). Finally, I omitted the fact that I don’t think Harry Potter is that good. Denouncing Harry Potter on Tinder is the equivalent of hacking off your dick and throwing it into an on-coming wind so it returns to slap you in the face as its last function it will ever perform.

I don’t have photoshop this side, so I’m going to have to describe the perfect profile picture that women seem to be looking for:

  • A shirtless muscular man
  • Riding a horse
  • While walking an androgynous dog/cat
  • While reading Harry Potter
  • While listening to the 1975
  • With a man-bun and beard
  • With an adequate amount of tattoos
  • With a look in his eye that apologises for the patriarchy
  • And the lump of a wallet in his jeans that shows he’s not that sorry (for you, he’ll even pretend that it really exists)

So, in the face of all of this kak, why do people use Tinder? Well, this is where opinions are divided. Tinder gets a bad rep as a “hook up app”, saying that it is only used for hook ups, one night stands and such. This is why it is so quick, easy, and anonymous. Joining it, even if you are doing it to meet people or find love, gives the impression of wanting a short-term pull. But Tinder also has a great reputation for being a “hook up app”. You can meet people close to you, check them out online, check them out in person with some friends, smash, and then go on your merry way. We lead busy lives, and I need much time to be miserable on social media.

wat out

My problem is where people like to fit this into their whole love story. Tim Minchin has a fantastic song called If I Didn’t Have You that he wrote for his wife. The one verse goes something like “I’m not undervaluing what we got when I say / the role that chaos inevitably plays / in the inherently flawed nation of fate / it’s obtuse to deduce that I’ve found my soul mate at the age of 17 / It’s just mathematically unlikely that at a university in Perth / I happen to stumble on the one girl on earth designed specifically just for me.” Whatever your philosophy on love, you are likely to have a problem with internet dating, and you will definitely be wrong.

Let’s start with absolute fate. If you believe that you are destined to meet that one special person out there, then, technically, no amount of programming can come in the way of that. Ok, so you don’t quite believe in fate, but you do believe in a soulmate. Like Aristophanes in Plato’s The Symposium, you believe there is another half of you lurking around looking for your edges to fit into theirs. Many have said that search filters and algorithms take out chance meetings and other random factors. Tinder is actually comparatively open on that front, not allowing you to automatically block people on the base or race, religion, and other factors that many online dating sites do. But, if you think about it, Tinder is allowing you to fly through hundreds of people a day. If anything it’s helping your chances in hunting down this special person, while still not completely eliminating the chance of you meeting someone the more traditional way. Think of it like this: if you wanted to find that one special terrorist, would you want to shoot through a whole bunch of photos on a screen, or just hope that you’ll bump into them at Spar? Hell, if you continue on that train of thought, Cupid is just a terrorist with limited weapons: he invades places on historically significant days just to shoot people to make them follow his way of thinking. So it’s all relative.

But no, you’d rather side with Bertrand Russell, and think of relationships as something to escape loneliness. Tinder works for that too. Sharing a swipe with an avatar is better than drinking alone. Ok fine, you’re like Minchin (the song dude) and you believe love is not pre-determined, but built up over spending time with someone you’ve felt a connection with. Once again, Tinder fits the criteria. I don’t really think any of these philosophies work out in the real world, and my only problem with Tinder was what the quality of person on the app would be like. But now that I’ve joined, I feel the standard of person online has improved significantly.

So then why such an outrageous title? What is Jstor? Jstor is a digital online platform, home to thousands of journal entries and other academic papers. When doing research, this is one of the places you check to get information. You type in search words, put some restrictions, and search from there. This is one of the early stages of writing a thesis. That’s not to say that we don’t find value in books, especially those that can’t be found online, but online platforms are just a good place to start. No too many years ago, there was no Jstor and people writing theses had to walk around the library itself and take out physical books to add value to their work. Whether the theses would have been any better had an online platform been available is up to debate, but what we can say is that the theses definitely turned out differently than they would have with more information available. That’s exactly what Tinder is with relationships. It’s a sped up, condensed version of something laborious that we used to have to do. It has not replaced the previous was of “checking out books” but it has made it a lot easier, and lots of us tend to take books out manually anyway. Especially those with massive titles.

Rabbit out (of love. What am I without you? Not too fucking bad)

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