The Travails of Tinder
Gabriel Pogrund looks into how the app is affecting our campus.
‘A fear of boredom’ spurred college dropout Sean Rad into the world of internet start-ups eight years ago. His first fairly dull project, Orgoo, synthesised your online platforms into one space – and flopped in months.
For all its detractors, Rad’s next venture is far from boring. Tinder has matched 100 million sex-hungry singletons since its launch and caught fire at UCL, condensing the uncertainty of a predatory night out on into a streamlined “chirpse” at the touch of a finger. In being able to issue a leftward swipe to decline, one can separate wheat from the chaff in seconds, bypassing the squalid Moonies pull and the overpriced, severely hydrated shot of Glen’s.
Tinder publishes your interests according to Facebook. Perhaps “Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman” was literary avant garde when entered in year 7, though my outdated interests are of little actual importance to an app obsessed with aesthetics and the art of selecting photos attractive enough to entice nearby users. The caveat is that they must be realistic enough to avoid disappointment when online Lothario finally meets you at a local pub or the Bloomsbury Farmer’s Market.
Search ‘am I pretty or ugly’ on YouTube today and 572,000 fourteen-ish year old girls appear divulging some their profoundly sad insecurities: “Is my face is too wide?” “Are eyes are too small?” “Are my teeth are a shade too yellow?”
It’s the latest craze resulting from an indispensable part of the adolescent experience, vanity.
True, the days of pathological mirror gazing and grooming before your first disco at the local Parish hall are over, but maybe now the tweenage fixation with appearance is not. Tinder is all about sex. So, as long as a dispensable shag within a twenty mile radius remains its raison d’etre, so too do looks remain you and your phone’s prime concern. Rad claims the app has led to 50 marriages, yet how many would have happened without her flattering snap in a fetching jumpsuit from TK Maxx or that pic of his bronzed bust and gelled scalp on the beach in Cos?
The concept is nothing new, it must be said. FaceMash, Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild developed into a slightly bigger site, Facebook, that you may know of – but began a desktop-based equivalent of Tinder. Similar apps like Badoo and Grindr, the gay community’s version with 7 million members, also pre-date the app. Students nonetheless claim that Tinder has revolutionised their dating experience. Select a five mile radius on Gower Street and scores of students appear. Pizza to share at Icco, Charlotte Street, is an increasingly well-trodden tradition if your initial conversation bears fruit.
Urban myths galore surround the app at UCL. There is the undergraduate who left the swanky Bloosmbury apartment of her latest squeeze on Tinder, a Physics PhD student, to see a close friend walking in for some similar treatment. And the committed couple of six months that chanced upon one another on Tinder and met in Tottenham Court Road’s illustrious Subway for a meatball marinara and some no-strings sex. There’s also the tubby Frenchman who masquerades as an absurdly handsome, blue-eyed beau, coaxing numerous disappointed girls into a drink at Phineas.
The one night stand looks an increasingly stress-free pastime to partake in. All you need is an iPhone, lukewarm small talk and a good holiday snap or two.