Brown hair, Blue eyes…Swipe…Swipe…
All these faces…All these names….All these photos…All these people with their hobbies..
Their friends…Their lives….or at least the part of their lives that they’re comfortable sharing with the world.
Partly truth, Partly lies…
They share the most perfect part of their lives….
This one has a nice smile.
This one has pretty eyes.
This one looks funny.
This one looks lonely………..
Because isn’t that why we’re all doing this? Isn’t this why, no matter how it begins and despite what our true intentions are – Aren’t we all trying to swipe FOR someone? TO someone?
Yet why don’t we admit it? Why are we uncomfortable saying, “I’m on this stupid app because I’m lonely” even though more often than not, that is the unspoken truth.
Instead we make laughable excuses like, “I just fool around on it when I’m drunk or I get tired of playing Angry Birds.”
And that might be true for some, but I think the vast majority of people do hold out hope that while we check our phones for likes, approvals and self validation, we check Tinder (or any of the other dating sites), because we’re lonely and caught up in the hope that someone is out there…. somewhere. Maybe it’s a nighttime lonely where someone is looking for a band-aid in the form of a hook-up where they can escape from the grind of everyday life with a beautiful stranger. Maybe it’s a Friday night lonely where someone doesn’t have a lot of friends and really just wants to go out with someone. Maybe it’s a lonely that someone feels after coming home after work to an empty house.
Regardless, no matter what people are looking for, they (or we) are looking for someone no matter how much we convince ourselves and our friends otherwise. If we weren’t lonely, we wouldn’t be checking. We weren’t be looking.
I wonder who he’s standing next to in that photo?
Are they his friends? Would they be my friends?
Is that person his brother? Would he like me?
Is that his dog? Does he bite? (The dog…Not the guy!)
Does he really like fishing? Does he really like that team? I wonder if that’s his mom??!!
All these questions that we ask to go along with the stories we make up about these beautiful strangers who all look like the “people postcards” that come with the picture frames we buy. All staged and suspiciously happy while carry a mystery in an intentionally “real” way, or at least as “real” as someone could be under flattering angles and a photo filter.
So I swiped and I swiped and I swiped myself silly as I flew past my potentially soul-mates, because I have no trouble admitting that I do get lonely sometimes, all while sitting at home with my pj’s and wine. At first, Left..Left…Left…because I was shy, nervous and not quite understanding what would happen if I did swipe right. Would they know? What if they didn’t swipe right on me? Would I remember that I was rejected by that particular stranger?
But this isn’t Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. This is Tinder. And Tinder makes it impossible to spy, cyberstalk or hover without interacting, nor can you browse and debate, like one does in a store while debating over a pair of shoes. Should I buy them? Are these cute? Should I go for it? But you can’t decide! So you instead go about your day, all while thinking about those beautiful shoes in the window that you’re sorry you didn’t buy. But that’s ok. It’s possible that you can still go back for them. But that’s unfortunately not how Tinder works. There is no going back (Unless you delete the app, NOT YOUR ACCOUNT and reinstall. Sometimes and I say SOMETIMES, you will see a match that you previously denied show up again. I’ve heard this works if you feel you made a mistake. But I wouldn’t know anything about that, so try at your own risk….*wink*)
In most cases, however, Twitter is not like the store that you go back to for the shoes you’re sorry you didn’t buy. Tinder is a sample sale. If you see someone cute, you have to buy right then, right now by swiping right. There is no holding and no go back. You make your choice now! So I did eventually come around, because as I mentioned in the beginning of this. I was in the game! I was jumping in the pool (minus the bikini) and ready to play. I knew I had to if I was going to be successful in this venture. No playing yields no matches and no matches yields no ringing bell that says, “You’re a match!!”
It didn’t take too long for me to shed my inhibitions. I’m a girl in her thirties! I’m the cool, confident girl! But that would be a lie. I wasn’t confident. I still didn’t feel that this swiping/matching game was really for me. But what did push me from “ney” to “yay” was that addictive, ringing sound that I inevitability translated as, “He thinks you’re pretty!” that gave me the self-validation needed to keep me going through this exhilarating and overwhelming process. But my initial success on this didn’t keep me from asking, “Is this really what people are doing now and how do I turn this mindless, endless swiping into something real?” Sure he thinks I’m pretty, but who is this person?
But I pressed on by swiping and swiping until I thought I reached the end. It’s true. For a minute I thought I reach the end of Los Angeles’ Tinder. It finally said, “No More Matches in Your Area.” But sure enough, the next day there would be more. More men. More options. More judgments against the seemingly perfect “people postcards” that left me asking, “Are more options really better? How am I going to focus with all these men constantly appearing in my feed like a retro AOL Buddy List? How was I going to see who they really were without wondering who this next person is?”
And my least favorite thought during this process? How was I going to get THEM to focus on ME? How do I get their attention with all their options… all their people… all of which vying for their attention?
(The below photo is of me at the DVD Journey of a Dress exhibit which gives an accurate impression of how I felt.)
Experts say that people typically form a first impression of someone within 33 milliseconds. We meet someone and whether we like it or not, 33 milliseconds is all we get. We are the society of snap judgments where judging people as they are currently trying to wow us is the unfortunate norm. But what about when they aren’t with us? Is it safe to say that given how little time the typical person takes to make a first impression when meeting some who is standing in front of us for the first time, is it possible to mindlessly swipe past people on Tinder even quicker when all we have is a few photos of a person and a brief “About Me” section?
At least that is how I began to see things the more time I spent swiping through these matches. Because as much as I began to hate myself for being this picky and judgmental towards people I didn’t know, it was necessary if I wanted to accomplish what I said I wanted to do. I wanted to meet new people and date, ideally more than one person at a time. But why was I not interested, or didn’t think I was, interested in most? Am I really this judgmental? Is this how I am in person? In real life? Do I discount people as I am right now on this app?
But what other way is there? How do I make a choice when I don’t have much to go on, and in some cases, nothing to go on. So instead, I tried to pretend I was in a crowded bar, like so many compare Tinder to. Who would I pep-talk myself into talking to? Who would I want to talk? Who would I want to talk to me? Who would cause me to run in the bathroom to fluff my hair and check my teeth?
Photo: Taken by Me of Me at the DVF Journey of a Dress Exhibit
This piece was also featured on The Fickle Heartbeat – http://thefickleheartbeat.com/2014/10/23/swiping-soulmates/