Every status update since the dawn of Thomas


Saturday, 22 February 2014

F*** Tinder

I am not going to come out of this blog post looking good: I will come off like a tragic loser and an unattractively bitter one at that. So I’m not sure why I’m even writing it, or if I really want you, dear, precious reader, to know about the failed, desperate, furtive goings on that happen behind the curtains of my suave and professional public persona (guffaw). But gosh, dang it, the tradition of painful oversharing for laughs is well established here, and such is one’s chagrin, that what the hellfire – on we go.

Fuck Tinder. Yes, fuck it. It has destroyed my fragile ego.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a mobile phone app that has been neatly described as speed-dating on your phone, a game of two-way hot-or-not, or a kind of dating game of "snap". You swipe through hundreds of pictures of men or women pressing “yep” or “nah” and if – and only if – you both hit “yep” to each other, it lets you know and you can start chatting. You can select a handful of pictures of yourself from facebook, write a few “about me” lines, set gender, age range and distance preference, and that’s about it. My first impression was one of revolted horror at the shallowness of it all but, of course, one uneventful night in the clutches of a howling gale of unquenchable ennui I thought “Go on - have a look. It’s a bit of fun.” And, yes, it is thoroughly addictive.

This season's themes

Unsurprisingly, it has a reputation as the app of choice for casual hook-ups, so I was kind of intrigued, if dubious, about what levels of seedy decadence I might be about to discover – but there has so far been disappointingly little in the way of shocking or sexy pics or advances, nothing much more racey than endless selfies of glammed-up duck-face pulling types in figure-hugging dresses, proudly displaying their shiny legs and cleavage in the traditional nightclub setting. No – rather this season’s key themes for female Tinderers seem to be sitting at a pub table gurning with a fake moustache, sitting in a festival field with pretty facepaint sprinkled around one eye, Halloween costumes, sky and scuba diving, skiing/snowboarding and horse riding (if posh). Business as usual, then.

A ludicrous amount of pictures contain three or more people which adds the extra cryptic challenge of “who the shit am I supposed to be looking at, ffs?” to the mix, swiping through until you spot which face all five pictures have in common. It’s like a fun family Wii game. Almost as many profiles contain what appears to be a boyfriend in at least one shot, probably a misguided attempt to say “Look, I was desired once – I’m a catch. With baggage you have to live up to. Aren’t you jealous already?” - No. And an alarming amount have simply put up four of five pics of their wedding day, without the common decency to at least crop the guy out. I did think this must be just sheer idiocy, vanity, or a shorthand for “Look, I’m recently separated/divorced – deal with it” - but I rather suspect it’s actually a shorthand for “Look, I’m an adulterer/swinger – you up for it?” - No.

Only about a half put anything in the "about me" bit, but I’ve started all but ignoring it because most tell you virtually nothing and I could largely have guessed the content anyway – Ah, yes, let me see... I expect you think that "life is for living", I expect you just want someone honest and caring, and I expect you love adventure, going out, live music and good food (I, of course, hate all these things). Occasionally the bio will reveal the person is massively annoying or a hideous idiot, but mostly they're thoroughly unremarkable. I suppose I am more likely to like if I find a profile with an "about me" that makes me chuckle or think "That's hellish cool", but these are so rare as to be practically mythological - and I wouldn't expect or demand such a bio from something as superficial as Tinder anyway.

Scything through vast swathes of faces

So, I’m starting to sound ever so choosy and sneery and up-myself, I know. No wonder I’m not having much joy. But, ah! Dearest, beloved, magnificent reader, no, no, no. I have been open of mind, broad of taste and liberal in my Tinder approach – after all, the casual, non-committal nature of it encourages one to experiment. I have not fallen into either the Scylla or Charybdis of only going for instant heart-flutter perfection on the one hand, or only what I think are sensible and appropriate choices on the other. Once you get your steam up on this thing you end up scything through vast swathes of faces and I have spread my yea-saying finger far and wide – from comfortably imaginable matches to “How the hell would that work?”; from reassuringly natural no-nonsense types to the intimidatingly glamorous; from probably too young to probably too old; from the “Hell yes!” to the “Hmm, dunno, maybe, at a push”; and have included an eminently reasonable variety of shapes, sizes and styles that are broadly in the ballpark of my tastes.

I must have liked in the region of sixty or seventy women now. And how many of those do you think have liked me back? Hmmm? How many, dear, majestic reader?



You heard me. Four. Count ‘em.

One of those was very promising – we got chatting effortlessly over a couple of nights, all fun and no pressure and hit it off well. I asked her out and she seemed excited and nervous and over the next couple of days we started pinning down the details of where and when and what we would like to do and then – silence. I left it a bit, gave a brief prompt and – more silence. And the next day she disappeared.

Another match seemed to be reading off a sexy script and almost immediately asked me to put my credit card details into a webcam site where I could see her "cam". I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason I got the impression she was only after me for my money.

Another one was someone I said “yes” to by accident (it’s very easy to do).

And the other one was a friend taking the piss.

All of these appeared in the first couple of days of using the app. Since then – not a single match, despite ever increasing numbers of thumbs-ups from me. I tell you, the fun addiction soon starts to feel a touch desperate, then like pissing into the wind, and then downright alarming. I mean can it really be? Can it really be that out of sixty-odd mostly appropriate-looking women that I think are reasonably attractive, not one of them thinks “Yeah, maybe, he looks alright”? I mean to say, I carefully selected pictures that make me look more handsome than I actually am in real life, and everything. It’s just an insult. Are things really that stacked against me? Can the outlook really be that bleak?

Hot-sex gigolo lifestyle

This is the point at which I’m sure you – YOU – wretched, blasted, insufferable reader, are tempted to pipe up from the complacency of your stable relationship or hot-sex gigolo lifestyle and tell me I’m doing something wrong, and here’s your advice... well, respectfully, *bullshit* and get-to-buggery with that bollox. There is nothing to do on Tinder, before the chatting starts, aside from select some decent pictures and not sound like a weirdo in the tiny bio, if you do one at all. I’m savvy enough to know what is a flattering picture and what isn’t, I'm self-aware enough not to put up anything that makes me look (too) weird, tragic or shoddy and I have even taken friends’ feedback on my choices.

And besides, people’s tastes, temperaments and sympathies vary radically – surely even the most half-hearted collection of so-so pictures would chime vaguely with someone out of seventy people. Not everyone is going to unanimously swipe "no", thinking “I don’t like his receding hairline” or “That pic is a bit pretentious” or “Ooh, I don’t know about that shirt”. I’m a normal-looking man. I have nice eyes, ffs. Maybe I need a skydiving shot?


So what is going on? Other people I know who’ve used it regularly seem to have multiple matches on the go at any one time. Maybe an awful lot of people install it, take a couple of brief looks and then never touch it again. Maybe the further away ones aren’t casting their net as wide, so will never see me. Maybe I just haven’t given it enough time – there are an awful lot of people on there to trawl through. But these excuses only go so far.

I had the (possibly horrifically sexist) notion that because men tend to be more looks-oriented than women – and Tinder is all about looks – the deck may be stacked in favour of pretty females who can pick and choose – in that any half-presentable woman who dresses well and takes a good picture will be inundated with likes from all corners, in a way that a half-presentable man might not – and therefore have a high likelihood of scoring a match in the first lucky handful of blokes they say “ok” to, and never make it far enough into the morass of men to get round to the likes of me. But I don’t really believe that – as long as the amount of looking and liking is fairly even between the sexes, it wouldn’t make any difference what gender you are. And the point of Tinder is that it’s the looking that’s entertaining and addictive - you don’t just stop the second the first person pops up to chat.

The final possibility is that my phone installation developed some bug, meaning for some reason women weren't seeing me or matches not coming through – of course! It is funny that all four (four!) matches appeared within a couple of days and then nothing, isn’t it? Yes, it is. Very suspicious. Ok, I’m going to believe that, lest my ego go foetal in the corner in a ball of weeping mess.

Huh. No. I dunno. All I know is Tinder has been a disappointment. Fuck Tinder. I’ll give it one more week.