Tinder: If You Stop Laughing, You’re Going to Cry
So I finally checked out this Tinder app they have for your Obamaphone, and Good Lord – I’ve been laughing for two days straight… mostly because I’m worried that, if I stop, I’m going to climb up onto the rooftops and howl at the sky for the Elder Ones to wash this blasted heath clean with the Color Out of Space.
Ah, where to begin?
Q. How do you make a casual-sex hookup app for straight people?
A. Say that it isn’t about casual sex, while embracing the dynamics of anonymous rutting.
The dating scene’s been changing at an accelerating rate. Five years ago, you’d be embarrassed to admit that you’d met somebody online; Internet people were creepy, after all. Ideally, you’d meet through social connections; even meeting at a bar was considered acceptable (note the raft of movies coming out with mid-thirties couples who met at a bar, had a conversation, and kicked things off with a one-night-stand). These days things have swung full-circle: talking to a girl at the bar is considered creepy, it’s far more pro-social to get to know somebody “safely” online, since they have a real, verified, bona-fide Facebook account to demonstrate what an upstanding citizen they are – and let’s not forget, on the Internet nobody can see you blush.
When the dating sites first came out, they were considered low status due to the fact that if you needed to use a dating site, it implied that you didn’t have any real-life friends that you could hang out with, as if both of you were some sort of social pariahs. However, with the ongoing atomization of individuals, they started to become more popular. The bar scene changed from one where you met strangers, to one where you displayed yourself for strangers. The music got louder, the groups were more tight-knit, and the mating-ritual of the Club Scene took over.
What if you wanted to get to know somebody before you slept with them? What if you wanted to actually have a conversation first? In that case, you went over to the dating sites and messaged back and forth. Only now, the dating sites have become equally worthless.
There are a number of factors at play here – that topic is a whole article unto itself – but what it boils down to is that girls are using their iPhones as affirmation engines: when you message a dame on Plenty of Fish, you become just another thirsty guy, stroking her ego. There’s nothing going on with those sites – at least, not where I live.
Enter Tinder, an app which bypasses all that pointless communication, where you decide to +1/-1 somebody based purely on their physical appearance (even if you read their bio it’s restricted to less than a paragraph).
That’s what Sally Newall of the Mainstream Media asks, utterly failing to comprehend the most basic premise of Media Studies: that the Medium is the Message.
It’s natural. You ‘like’ people in the same way you would in a bar – on whether you find them attractive at first glance. A little shallow, yes, but let’s face it, it’s what we all do on a night out anyway.
As I swipe left-and-right on the women that Tinder offers up to me, I can’t help seeing the existential farce: the wall is never more obvious than when you contrast 18 to 32, in immediate succession, time and time again, both of whom are offering themselves at the same price. I wind up being far too generous in my rankings – choosing +1 far more often than I should, simply because hitting the -1 forces me to realize how thoroughly I just dehumanized a person “2/10, would not bang – begone from my reality!” (of course, the +1 is equally dehumanizing, but the -1 requires that you, personally, toss them into Cthulhu’s maw).
When you encounter somebody in real life, you see a whole host of attributes on them; their body language, their tone of voice, their clothes, the list goes on and on. The style isn’t always the same as the substance, but they’re at the very least correlated. Sometimes you might even see somebody whom you can like and admire despite not wanting to use them as a cock-cozy.
Contrast to Tinder: a handful of carefully chosen photos define the person. Not their written self-description – not the full-movements of a person in motion, existing in time – but the still-frame snapshots. The pure, distilled ego. An archaeological artifact of a dead civilization. Any connection to the inner self is ephemeral at best.
For instance, I could put up photos emphasizing:
- My military background
- Outdoor adventures
- My spiffy collection of suits
Each of these has some esoteric relationship with who I actually am, but taken in isolation they’re utterly meaningless. I am nothing but a face and a style; there is nothing human in a manipulated still-frame.
Next, let us consider Tinder’s pre-commitment. Prior to chatting with your Tinder “match” (get it? GET IT??? I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying!) you both have to +1 the other. Since you’re going off of gross physical attributes, the other person is nothing but a marionette for a sexual fantasy. The internalization of pornography is complete: you are both objects to be used by the other, not for yourselves (since you never entered into this equation), but for some imagined audience behind a non-existent camera lens. Your superego is watching yourself watching yourself have sex. As Tracy Clark-Ford noted, after hooking up with her favourite porn star:
There’s no need to go into great detail — do a Google search for “porn” and you’ll find an approximate representation of what followed between us. It’s exactly what I had breathlessly watched him do many times before, but this time it seemed mechanical and theatrical. Instead of being entertained, I was doing the entertaining, and I suspect he was too — but for whom, exactly? We were the only audience.
All of which is to say: It was like nearly every casual hookup I’ve ever had. Here were two strangers connected only by their fantasies of who the other was.
The medium is the message.
Personality is no longer a factor; neither is the development of a personal style, something which interplays with the internal-self. You are marketing an image and a persona. She says yes to your image, you say yes to hers; when you meet, your personas are likewise constructed – inoffensive so as to enable the bedroom (after all, you’re both horny). Eventually the two of you retreat from prying eyes, and two fictional characters have sex as you both try and ignore Nietzsche’s yawning abyss – wondering the whole time if there’s really another person present, or if you’re just imagining it. Is any of this real?
Cave, cave, Deus videt. Where once was Man, there is now nothing but degraded pigs spewing their effluent onto the sheets.
Don’t say you were never warned: Logan’s Run predicted this with the prescience of all good science-fiction.
Heck, I even had a “Dan” show up as one of my “matches”.
Who needs comedy nowadays? Dante’s is all around us.