At long last, the thing that you've all been waiting for: a blog post about online dating! No one has ever written one of these before.
Outside of briefly dabbling with an OkCupid account a couple of years ago, I am completely new to the world of online dating. Having long ago shaken off its old stigma as being for desperate individuals who can't cut it in the "real dating world," today's suite of online dating services have become one of the main ways in which us wacky millennials seek out romance. Aziz Ansari's recent book on this topic provided an even-handed approach to services like OkCupid and Tinder that acknowledged the conveniences and bevy of choices that they offer while also noting that, at some point, you're going to want to actually get out off of your ass and interact with people in person.
For now, though, forget about that whole in-person thing. It's time to swipe photos across a screen until my index finger disintegrates! I downloaded Tinder and Bumble, set up profiles across both platforms, made split-second judgments about individuals' worth based on photos and slivers of biographical information, and then furrowed my brows in an effort to reflect on the entire endeavor.
I'm currently single and could arguably stand to benefit from these services, but since I'm in more of an exploratory mode here, I kind of half-assed the profiles. The first handful of acceptable photos that I could scrounge up from Facebook were tossed right in, and the profile descriptions partially served as plugs for this website, surely creating an unstable feedback loop of some kind.
And then came the swiping. So much swiping. I was a little surprised at just how easily I was lulled into a hypnotic trance while using these apps, staring blankly at the phone as dozens and dozens of people flickered across the screen. On Tinder, the app makes a point to let you know if any of your potential matches share mutual friends with you (via the Facebook connection), so it was always interesting to poke around in those profiles and get a sense of what their social circle is like. I know that a lot of men are notorious for blindly swiping right on everyone that they see and proceeding to vomit out generic, insipid messages like "hey sexy" to anyone that they match with, so I decided to be selective and only swipe right on people that really seemed interesting.
Bumble is a blatant Tinder ripoff in terms of its interface and functionality, but its central gimmick of requiring women to send out the first message after a heterosexual match is made was enough to give it a different vibe. It's nice knowing that anyone on the other side of the matches that I might make are probably having a less-miserable time, you know? In addition to a photo, Bumble also displays each person's occupation, which gives you at least slightly more context for a person before you make that fateful swipe. Much like with Tinder, I tried to be selective here, only swiping right on profiles that made a strong first impression.
In the end, I saw a lot of strange profiles (ex: the surprisingly ubiquitous "flip off the camera/write about smoking weed every day" combination), saw a few compelling ones, and realized that I would be a lot more popular if I had only professed my undying love of hiking, puppies, and hiking while cradling a litter of puppies in my arms. I also had a fun conversation with a woman who is a professional bassist, has a passion for physics, and is even a fan of The Daily Show: impressive! If you're interested, [NAME REDACTED], I would love to meet up with you and grab a cup of coffee sometime.