Generation Tinder

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Speaking as a millennial myself, I think it’s safe to say that we truly are a generation of firsts. We were the first generation to be brought up with the internet and this, in itself spawned many other firsts. We were also the first to spend our teenage (and resulting) years on social media. And finally we are the first to experience being ‘Generation Tinder’.

Since its launch in 2012, Tinder has taken the world by storm. Somehow doing what so many dating websites before it couldn’t, by making online dating ‘cool’. It seems that the app format was the key feature that made all the difference. Being single nowadays, the app seems almost a necessity. The odd thing however is this, the release of Tinder – and many resulting app-based online dating formats such as Bumble, Happn and Grindr, – have actually made it harder to meet people. I’ve spoken with many friends and colleagues who, being in long-term relationships, have never been single at a time when Tinder was available. Often they speak of it wistfully, “If only it had been around when I was single, it must be so easy.” Ironically, if you speak to any single person with a lot of experience using the app, the majority verdict seems to be that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Personally, I’ve been single and using Tinder on and off (with varying levels of exasperation) for around four years. I’ve been on a handful of dates – some have been enjoyable and others merely bearable – but I have never even come close to anything that resembles a successful relationship off the back of it. On the surface, the premise seems like an obvious and winning formula. You are matched initially based on a handful of photos and a small ‘about me’ segment, which users can choose to fill in to a certain level of detail, if any. Then, if you both ‘like’ each other based primarily on looks, a conversation is opened and you can talk further, deciding whether or not to meet for a date. So, why isn’t it working?

Let me just state, Tinder does work. It has been known to happen. I defy any single woman out there using the app (or a variation of it) to tell me that they haven’t been told, at their lowest ebb, “oh but my friend Rachel met her boyfriend on Tinder and now they’ve been together for 3 years – he just proposed in Paris!” Of course it works for some people, just as there must be many people the world over that met their partner at the supermarket. But that doesn’t mean that every time I pop to Tesco I do so in a cocktail dress and heels. Then again, we also have the other side of Tinder – the people who use it as an app primarily for hookups. But, despite what many might may think, these people are in the minority. It really seems to me that most people using these apps are searching for a genuine human connection.

The problem with Tinder, however, is something previously unbeknownst – it has made it much harder to meet people in person. This human connection we strive for is best sparked face to face. It’s the little things that really create an image of a person; how their voice sounds, their discreet movements, the way they interact with you. This is what you cannot judge from a small selection of photos and short bio. But with the technology at our fingertips to see an entire phonebook of people – all who are geographically nearby, within your chosen age range and, most importantly, single – it seems much more of a risk to approach someone at a bar. Many women that I have spoken to have discussed a noticeable drop in men coming to talk to them on nights out, and I would guess that men feel the same way. But this is where Tinder’s power actually is; it created this problem, and due to it we feel that the only way we can meet people now, is by using dating apps. It’s a vicious cycle of matters of the heart.

Perhaps this is why studies are coming to light that prove that millennials are having less sex than previous generations, contrary to popular opinion. Sure, dating apps make it easier than ever to have a casual one-night stand, but for many of us that just isn’t what we’re looking for. What we actually are embroiled in is a cruel game of “grass is always greener”. With so many prospective partners at your fingertips, most users are potentially speaking to several different people at a time – it’s almost impossible to keep up. And when every swipe leads you to another fresh match who’s to say that you couldn’t find someone better than the person you’re currently talking to?

I can’t be alone in having a selection of what I call “The Lost Boys of Tinder”. These are the men you matched with, spoke to, maybe even went on a date or two with – who now sit dormant on your Facebook friends list or phone contacts. Occasionally, you might even be lucky enough to receive a 3am text of “you up?” from one of your lost boys, but otherwise they are never to be spoken of again. Somehow you both knew it wouldn’t work – but either one of you is desperately clinging on, or neither of you can actually be bothered to go to the effort of deleting the other. I tend to be in the latter camp.

So we singletons continue on what often seems like the fruitless task of trying to not end up alone. And in order to hopefully aid many others in finding true love, I have some parting (and heartfelt) advice to men on what to put on your Tinder profile:

  1. Stop telling us all you’re “new to Tinder”, we know you’re not.
  2. A joke never goes amiss.
  3. Avoid telling us all what you don’t like in women, e.g. “If you draw your eyebrows on, swipe left.” You don’t know anything about my eyebrows, pal.
  4. Tinder picture rules: never ONLY selfies, at least one full body shot, try not to use Snapchat filters. Follow my guidance and watch your matches soar.
  5. Don’t EVER use a group photo as your first photo. We can’t be bothered to work out which one you are. We assume you’re the least attractive.
  6. We don’t need an essay, one paragraph is enough.
  7. Being a bit cheeky is fine, encouraged in fact. Being obnoxiously so, is not.
  8. Just try and spell things correctly.

Go forth and match, my friends!

Follow Hayley on Twitter @hayleylbrown

 (Artwork via @thepoopculture)