So . . . I joined Tinder last week.
I’d been meaning to do it for over a year. A coworker met his long-time girlfriend on it. Another coworker was having some luck at it. And, the straw that finally broke my back, my niece egged me into doing it. So, one uneventful Sunday, said niece helped me set up a profile.
However, I didn’t want to approach it from a normal angle. Not that I would know how to do that, anyway. The last time I braved the online dating world was . . . a decade ago? A lot had changed since then. Various articles even stated that the advent of Tinder rewrote the “rules” to online dating.
With that apprehension in mind, I decided to approach this venture as a thought experiment. How would the participants of a dating app as fickle as Tinder respond to a balls-to-the-wall tea man? I mean, that’s what I was, right? Why lie about who I am?
As such, I totally tea-manned my Tinder profile.
The full profile read (after some tweaking):
“Single, 5′ 9”, never married, and I don’t have kids. To keep this short, I’m a tea guy and a writer. Sometimes, I even combine those two loves. Sometimes it even makes me money. On the side, I’m a fan of anything sci-fi/ fantasy. I don’t drink or smoke, but getting “tea drunk” is a thing.
I’m on here because I think it’d be nice to share a cuppa with someone else for a change.”
Short and sweet, like a a Taiwanese Gui Fei gong fu session.
I mean, I didn’t want to scare potential suitorettes with my tea geekdom.
Sometimes, I was unaware how . . . excited I got when explaining the minutiae of teas and tea gardens.
Hell, just look at this blog!
Oh yeah, I should perhaps explain what Tinder is and how it functions. For those out there who just now emerged from their tea huts for the first time since 2012. Totally understandable; here we go . . .
Tinder operates along the same lines as old-timey websites like Hot or Not and Face the Jury. You set up a quick profile, and you upload a bunch of pictures. Like so:
After that, based upon your (albeit sparse) options—gender preference, age range, location—you can peruse other profiles. The lead photo for your potential target will come up, and you swipe right if you like it; swipe left if you don’t. You “swipe” because . . . this is a smart phone app. No website. Choosing a suitor is a finger-“swipe” away. And you keep doing that, ad nauseum/rinse-repeat. If you happen upon someone who also “liked” your profile, this handy-dandy li’l notification will pop up.
The first time you see that, it’ll be like a Vegas slot machine rush. Blinky lights will go off in your mind, and your heart will skip a beat. It’s highly addictive. Stupid endorphins.
The unfortunate thing about the platform is that you cannot see who likes your profile before a match is made. They show up as a mosaic blur. And Tinder will tease you relentlessly with it. Seriously, it taunts you in the match queue.
But if you click on the mosaic, this happens.
That’s how they get ya. Tinder is basically a “freemium” video game made manifest as an online meat market. It’s diabolical and ingenious in its simplicity.
As I mentioned above, though, I wasn’t interested in approaching this in the way it was advertised. Tinder earned a reputation for being a hook-up site. I considered myself too damn old to play around. I was a tea guy looking for tea gals; that’s it.
My niece also convinced me to join Bumble, and . . . *sigh* . . . we’ll get to that later.
To be honest, I expected nothing from this endeavor. I didn’t consider myself particularly good-looking. Average, sure, but no Adonis. One wouldn’t consider me entirely “fit”, either. And my chosen profession could neither be considered a career or successful. I wasn’t even sure what my dream job would be, even if it stared me in the face.
The odds were pretty well stacked against me from the get-go. That and I had a deserved reputation for being both (a) cowardly and (b) insanely picky. Narrowing down my Tinder to teacentrism proved that. And, trust me, it’s incredibly difficult to make tea drinking sound like a badass hobby.
Fascinating, sure . . . but not badass (to “normal” people).
My first night, I approached the app with equal-parts realism and trepidation. I began swiping. By Hour 3, I felt a little bit . . . wizardly. As if I was trying to Jedi mind trick these women.
The swiping motion felt oddly similar.
Imagine my surprise, when at midnight of my first day with the app, I hit upon my first match! I sent off a message before heading to bed. By the morning, there was a reply! My heart fluttered a li’l bit on gimpy wings.
For a couple of days, we exchanged messages. The dialogue started off small, but I didn’t mind. Even the deepest of conversations required small-talk beginnings. However, things got ugly-ish fast.
We talked about the city of San Diego. I knew it quite well; I was born there—spent my first nine years of life there. My 1980s childhood could’ve been directed by Spielberg; suburban cul-de-sac and all. (Sans crash-landing aliens.) Great place to visit, but no one could pay me to live there again. And, for some reason, that sparked a debate about the treasures and detriments of the greater San Diego area. In a few short hours, the dialogue died.
I went back to swiping.
A handful of days flew by without incident. A few aspects of “Tinder culture” crystallized as I swiped along. Within the age range I selected—27-to-41, using the XKCD dating age theorem—a pattern emerged. Women in their late-twenties to early-forties seemed preoccupied with the following activities. In no particular order: (1) Yoga. (2) Wine. (3) Whiskey. (4) Running. (5) Wine. (6) Mountain climbing. (7) Coffee. (8) Adventure. (9) Podcasts. (10) Craft beer. (11) Dogs. (12) Did I mention wine?
Oh, and most of them ended their profile descriptions with one parting statement: “No Trump voters and no dick pics.” As if the two concepts were somehow related. The ones that didn’t adhere to this pattern were unappealing to me, adhered to alternative lifestyles I didn’t find palatable . . . or were just downright fake profiles.
And I didn’t match with any of them. To their (and Tinder’s) credit, I was a hard case. I had my own hang-ups going into this. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke (pot or cigarettes), I was nowhere near outdoorsy, and I was allergic to yoga. That and I was hesitant to swipe right on anyone who had more than one child from a prior marriage/relationship. The complete dearth of matches was mostly my fault.
Yet I still felt that the women on Tinder likely preferred a version of me more along these lines.
To add insult to idiocy, there wasn’t a tea drinker among ’em. Coffee drinkers aplenty; no tea. After a solid week of swiping, though, something interesting happened.
Someone “super-liked” me. I heard many considered this Tinder function a bit of an eyesore. Basically, someone could press a star-shaped tab announcing that they really liked your profile. When their profile showed up in your swiping pool, that star would be visible on their profile; thus giving you an early indication that they already favored you. However, most women rarely used this feature. Many even announced in their bios that if they did do it, it was an accident.
So, I asked this new match, “Did you super-like me on accident?”
Sure enough, they un-matched me seconds later.
I deleted the app shortly after that.
Now, on to Bumble.
Bumble was released in 2014, two years after Tinder. The app was started by women that worked at Tinder HQ, who left because of sexual harassment and discrimination. As the ultimate “eff-you” to their former overlords, they released their own dating app. Superficially, it was similar to Tinder—save for one important difference. In the case of heterosexual matches, women had to make the first move. Basically, Sadie Hawkins Tinder.
From the get-go, I could see a difference between the two platforms. Bumble seemed sunnier, cozier. Even though there was some cross-pollination between the two user-bases, the same people who appeared on Tinder let their hair down more on Bumble. Profiles were more informative. The whole atmosphere was more microbrewery than meat market.
And I sucked at it.
Keep in mind, I signed up for Bumble mere minutes after Tinder.
While going through the above rigmarole, my Bumble match queue looked like this:
For almost a week.
The first three days I started swiping, this happened:
For the record, I live near Portland. Three hundred people move here everyday. I found it hard to believe that they ran out of people that quickly.
By Day 6, I finally matched with someone.
We bantered about tea and sight-seeing for three or so messages . . . but then she stopped talking to me. Over a typo. My smart phone’s keyboard typed “yippy” instead of “you”. Apparently, this made me uneducated in her eyes.
Bumble was more welcoming than Tinder, certainly, but the expectation of caliber was much higher. Particularly for those in my age range. If you weren’t successful in some way, consider yourself left-swiped.
I deleted the Bumble app, too.
But perhaps I’m being a little unfair.
Allow me to explain in—albeit—a roundabout way.
Earlier in the week, I cleaned a really nasty toilet at work. I clean a lot of nasty toilets; it’s part of my job. In this particular case, someone tried to flush a banana peel. Our maintenance engineer had to use a gas-powered snake to remove the blockage. This resulted in the porcelain bowl looking horribly scraped. I came in after with a pumice stone brick to buff out the hideous scratches. After about thirty minutes of buffing, the pumice stone looked like . . . um . . .
This happened completely by accident, and my bellowing laughter could be heard down the hall. Naturally, I showed it to everyone. At the end of the week, it dawned on me. I just did the occupational equivalent of sharing a dick pic. And that’s all online dating was, the metaphoric equivalent to a pumice stone brick being ground down into a phallus.
No matter how much work one puts into themselves, their activities, their strategies, the outcome was still mostly out of one’s control. All one could do was prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and laugh about it, either way. Granted, there were awful people out there who did terrible things to each other. But, generally speaking, most of the people on there wanted the same thing: to like, be liked in return, and possibly loved. That’s all.
Who was I to poo on that?
Tinder and Bumble simply required a time commitment I couldn’t keep up with. The more you swiped, the more likely you would match. Those apps were like dogs, they needed constant attention. I needed a dating app that was more like a cat.
One I could pet between naps.
I haven’t completely given up on online dating, nor have I thrown out the possibility of meeting a whimsical tea woman that way. But in the meantime, I still have a bit of work to do on me. That way, when the time comes, I’ll be the tea man worthy of their affection.
Wish me luck.
Shut up, Ben.