An open letter to Tinder:

tinder social image

Words by Tim Sujak

Dear Tinder,

Today marks the one year anniversary of our on-again/off-again relationship – the hot and cold union between you/Apple touch screen/my right thumb. I still remember the first thing you ever said to me…

By downloading this application, you agree to restrict 62% of ALL swipes and corresponding messages resembling “Heyyyy ;)” – and variations thereof – to fall between the sanctioned ‘real thirst’ hours of 10pm and 2am. Correct spelling and grammar is upheld as the standard prior to these times. Under no circumstances are you to employ single letters or numbers as substitutes for full words. Any combination of the two – no matter how clever – will result in the immediate termination of your account and the swift launching of your phone into the deepest reaches of the cosmos: in space, no-one can hear you meme.

Also, please keep obvious indecent proposals somewhat tasteful – “semen demon” just isn’t fun for anyone.

I honestly can’t believe we’ve lasted this long, Tinder. Sure, I’ve flirted with other dating apps – maybe even created a profile or two. I even closed you in the background whenever I strayed, out of respect. But here I am, tapping and swiping again. You’re the little flame that never goes out – no matter how many times I delete you. In fact, midway through writing this, I had an illuminating conversation.

With a girl on Tinder. Regarding Tinder.

Which is now in my blog article about Tinder.

The point my match made was that there seems to be this discrepancy between how people present themselves on Tinder and what they’re actually like in person. She suggested it’s something that reveals itself in the first hour of meeting face to face: sometimes it’s the size of a modest thigh gap; other times, a gaping chasm that not even my drunk ego could fill – but no matter what, it’s always there.

Granted, the fact that inconsistencies exist between the ‘virtual’ and the ‘physical’ self is nothing new: the internet is one of the most efficient ways of exploring those varying degrees of difference. Which got me thinking: just who the hell am I on Tinder and the subsequent date? I know that I’d hope to be an accurate ‘virtual’ mirroring of my ‘physical’ self to my match, but let’s get (meta)physical: can I have any true idea as to what that actually is? And is it even up to me – or my date – to decide?

Are we really the person who messages coolly on Tinder – dedicated practitioners of “blasé, concise responses” only? Surely we haven’t any place to hide over Snapchat moments – they have sound and video.

Facebook is basically a shrine to the self before either of us had any idea the other existed. Perhaps each of us are only really ourselves once we meet in person – me, a tangled mess more at odds than headphone cables condemned to life in a pocket of skinny jeans, while you have an alarm armed and primed to go off at exactly one hour past. 

Maybe we’re realest the second each of us has disappeared from view and we’re left wondering just who the fuck that was: if not us, then where were we? And how in the hell did we let that gap widen so much in such a short amount of time – wide enough to swallow a Friday night whole? 

One time, I got matched with a slice of McDonald’s pineapple from a ‘Create Your Taste’ Grand Angus.

I’m still awaiting matches from the rest of the burger, though they’d better come soon: I haven’t eaten in five months, so as not to spoil my appetite. Why? I appreciate a torturous chase.

The question of who we are remains, though – it hangs in the air like the smell of Choice cigarettes. My answer’s no better because it’s as solid as smoke and as satisfying as a ‘seen’ message sent with no reply.

Here it is, an indulgent selfie-analysis: what we project out through Tinder and Facebook, and over Snapchat and text – even in person – might just be different apps on the one OS. Some apps are similar to others, and others mightn’t be at all, but each one serves as an idiosyncratic part of a somewhat cohesive whole. Whether those parts are ‘accurate’ representations of you isn’t important if you consider that each one is very much ‘real’ – your date can vouch for that – and a minor discrepancy can say more about you, regardless of whether you’re in a sharing mood or not, than a 2 hour lecture on what you’d like to be ever could (15 minute coffee break included). Which is just terrible news for those of us not entirely sure of which apps we should keep open most, which ones we should take a break from, and which ones we should never ever open again.

But I think it’s okay not to know – at least, not while I’m two drinks down at this rooftop bar.

Uncertainty, indecision, change, self-discovery: they’re just small yet significant states in the grandiose territory of being in your twenties. And let’s face it, they certainly come with being human, too.

Your twenties, though, are an ideal time for this sort of intense, deeply personal scrutiny – you’re mature enough to understand the ‘why’ but not yet too stubborn to disregard the ‘how’. But fuck my life, if at 23, I still have no idea ‘how’, and I just barely got onto the ‘why’. Well, at least I can take comfort in knowing which ‘me’ wrote this article, no?

Still, Tinder – I wonder what’ll change in another years’ time between us. Maybe you’ll give way to living busy, a demanding career, and semi-professional alcoholism. Or maybe I’ll be thumbless by then, having to resort to swiping with my nose. 

Tim Sujak is actually a professionally-trained human in the art of chasing cars he has no intention of driving once he manages to get behind the wheel. Follow him on Facebook to see exactly what he’s doing when he should be paying attention to the road.

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