Like many teenagers who grew up in the early years of 21st century, I've also gone through a period when Mig33 and mIRC were the defining digital platforms for connection, although I never was an avid user. Some of my high school friends met their boyfriends or girlfriends by being online religiously, but I’d never really been interested in spending hours chatting with a complete stranger, let alone dreaming of finding a sweetheart on the internet.
After the decline of Mig33, mIRC and other similar online apps, Tinder entered the scene and took the digital world by storm. Many people in my circle talked about it and how fun it was. Still, I was that person who would rather do something else, even gone fishing if I had to, than got involved in an online dating scheme. Until some weeks ago.
After a little encouragement from a male friend, I finally succumbed to the dark force, even if I was rather late to the party. I’ve been mostly single my whole life and was fully aware of the stigma associated with Tinder. Even two of my close friends, both male, warned me about the consequences (or lack thereof), but I wanted to test the water.
I uploaded the safest photo of me that was not showy by any definition and wrote a short description of who I am: a soccer enthusiast – mainly because I’m bad at describing myself in an “About Me” section. Then Tinder presented me with a human catalogue containing hundreds of pictures of people based on proximity and other filters (age and gender). I just had to swipe right when I fancied someone (similar to “like” option), or swipe left to skip him then moved on to the next person. If we happened to like each other, then I found my match. Simple as that!
For a week I was matched with a number of strangers – Indonesians and foreigners. Twice I struck up a conversation to exercise my feminist power, but mostly my Tinder matches were the ones who hit me up first with a simple “hey,” while the rest remained silent. From there, Tinderland is exactly like what I expected it to be – a virtual world comprising people who generally have no interest in knowing who you are, and who are, instead, driven by an absolute efficiency.
In an ideal world, online dating would be like what we see in the movie You've Got Mail. I love that movie, though I’m adamant about not letting myself be swayed by the dangerous expectation of meeting a soulmate through the internet. These days, however, online dating platform is the second most popular way of finding a suitor, after meeting through friends, according to a study by the University of Rochester.
But after visiting Tinderland for a week I can tell you that the exchange of sincere, smart, witty conversation (like that in You’ve Got Mail) is not on the menu. Instead I was served with lines after lines of what resembled “fast food” ranging from endless mundane talk, to pushy request for Line ID, to sexual innuendo. And they come within minutes after a matching process was completed.
At one point I was attracted to a guy who is a photographer and whose Instagram feed shows him to be adventurous. He was good looking too. I did not immediately give him my Line ID when he asked. The next thing he did? He unmatched me.
Then I gave my Line ID to two Tinder matches: an Indonesian and an Indian, because I thought our conversations were relatively better compared to the others. The Indonesian guy was all right. We both like soccer, so most of our conversation revolved around the sport. My Indian Tinder match came a little too strong, however. He sent messages like “send me your selfie now,” or “when will you have time to chat?”, “I miss talking to you.” He even voluntarily sent his selfie and double texted me several times.
The worst experience for me, however, was receiving chats that seemed to ask for sexting. I automatically unmatched the guys who did this regardless of their identities.
These experiences have led me to conclude that most inhabitants of Tinderland don’t care about the books or music you like, or whether you believe in supernatural beings, or how you view the world. They have no interest in developing a chemistry with you, which of course takes time. The whole time I felt that had I not shared my Line ID to my matches, they would’ve unmatched me in a heartbeat. Efficiency.
Tinder supplies us with mass-produced, quick-and-easy-to-get attention which has become a mainstream culture today. If one chooses to take it slowly, the other party would be pushy, or else they’d end up ghosting you. The choices provided by Tinder are too many and all you have to do is swipe and chat, and the rest is up to you two. But chances are they will turn into another hit-and-run interaction.
So I decided not to meet any of my matches and to uninstall the app. Just thinking of sitting through an awkward instant date or of the possibility of some strangers getting the wrong idea is enough to send chills down my spine. It’s not healthy. I think when it comes to romance, I might be better off finding it on IRL.
Rosa Folia has a master’s degree in International Relations from Universitas Gadjah Mada. After Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia announced that she wasn’t good enough to be a diplomat, she began her journey as a writer, editor, and blogger. She has been a massive fan of Liverpool FC since 2004 and has been dreaming of working for the club one day. Read her blog here www.kompasiana.com/rosafolia or follow her Twitter @folia_deux.