It’s a busy rush-hour morning on the Tube and you can’t wait for the hustle and bustle of the surrounding crowds, all as eager, all as manic to get to work as you, to cease. You have got your headphones in and are blasting some rock tunes – something to blast out the outside noise – something by Metallica maybe? Your sleepy waning eyes suddenly race open as your morning coffee finally catches up with your routine and you feel the jolt of life juice awaken you. Your eyes scour the train as, with this new lease of life, you have suddenly become interested in people watching. You see the avid book and Metro readers, the fellow music listeners, the rush-hour sleepers. Your eyes scan everyone, and then you see her. Her hair may be perfectly curled or straight, blond or black, eyes may be blue or green, she may wear glasses or she may not. From all the singles out there in this city, and just in this train carriage, she is the only one that caught your eye. At this point attraction may appear superficial – its only physical so far – but the boys or girls eyeing up their prize in the carriage can choose to risk it and ask out the attractive woman, or man sitting across from them.
Dating is a risk, and being shot down face-to-face may feel like the peak of rejection and the end of the world. But, asking out a date verbally and in person is what we are usually used to. It allows you to establish rapport from the get-go and get to know what you like or dislike about the attractive individual – attraction grows from physical fancy to a social personality level. Plus, a big bonus of meeting in-person is that there is less space for surprises than in the sometimes untrustworthy big bad world of the internet. There’s less of a need to fixate on whether she actually has all four limbs, whether her make-up cakes too much, whether that is her natural hair colour, whether he is actually 6-foot, whether he is ripped enough, whether he will end up a player. Or, worse off, if either is a catfish.
If the dater does not get a movie-type perfect meet then meeting someone can be tough, and may prompt lonely and horny guys and gals to become Tinderellas and Tindergents – to enter the dating world of the 21st century.
Tinder pushes out the need to be socially awkward in front of a stranger and allows users to choose who they find attractive before the need to interact socially. The smart phone app allows users to view potential partners nearby and decide on whether they find someone attractive or not by swiping right or left. If both swipe right, then the users can contact each other and chat over the app. The app clearly has its allure as an estimated 800 million swipes happen every day.
But what about the not-so-glamorous side of Tinder? There is an argument that suggests that cutting out the social interaction, and purely focusing on the physical makes users superficial. Sociologists at Manchester Metropolitan University conducted a study in which they questioned male Tinder users in Manchester and Cheshire on their dating habits. When presenting the findings at the British Sociological Association’s conference in April, study author and senior lecturer in sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University Dr Jenny van Hooff, said: “Many of our respondents felt let down on meeting a woman and on feeling a visual representation hadn’t been accurate.
“Some of our respondents felt that this breaking of trust was a licence to use their date as they saw fit, thereby speeding up intimacy and undermining it at the same time.”
If a woman – as an example match on Tinder – is not physically as attractive as her picture then men were reported to feel that there had been a “breach of trust”, and that the breach meant they were now allowed to treat her “as they saw fit.” That sounds like a dangerous mindset to have, a dangerous leading-to-assault kind of mindset.
Daters are not objects, people are not objects, people are people. But often in our hectic lives the space for dating shrinks and we look for a way to compensate and speed up the intimate stuff – skip the uncomfortable first dates and get to the good stuff. That’s understandable, we hate to delay gratification, and want the prize as soon as an idea enters our heads. But people are people and they will, most likely, always be different from us. Speeding up intimacy undermines the pace that the other person wants to take the relationship – be it serious or casual or open – no matter the type of relationship both sides deserve respect. Its a two-way street, a 50% stake on both sides that makes the parties equal in the contractual union.
Tinder is all fun and games, just try not to get hurt.