In my grandmother's time, finding a man was easy. She was raised in Calabria, Italy, and a suitable husband was found for her by her family. Hell, they didn't even have to meet first – after a few letters and photos sent back and forth, my grandparents were married by proxy – she still in Italy and he recently arrived in Australia – and by the time they met in person they had been married for some time. Growing up, I always thought this practice sounded rather archaic, and more than a little bit depressing. Of late, though, as the age of Tinder is now upon us, I find my cynical self finding this story rather romantic, mostly because it doesn't involve any 'pictures of men's unmentionables.'
Let me explain. I have a few single girlfriends, from their early to late twenties, who are currently using the smart-phone app 'Tinder' to meet, date, and potentially begin a relationship with like-minded men. Tinder is an expansion of Grinder, the gay app which is used to GPS-locate anyone in the near-vicinity for a hookup. Based on this premise, guy or gal can use Tinder to plug in their requirements – gender, location, age range, etc. Tinder will show you people that fit these categories within, say, 20kms of you, if that is what you deem to be how far you will go to meet them. From then on you will have a parade of eligible partners paraded across your screen, and if you likey you 'swipe right,' and if you no likey, you 'swipe left.' If the person you right-swiped likes you back, you're a match and you're good to go for some scintillating conversation. From what I've gathered from friends and acquaintances, this Tinder is serious stuff – you can go from 'hey' to 'lol' to 'DTF?' pretty damn quick (for those who never watched Jersey Shore, DTF stands for something I can't mention here – google it). Charming, no? I have a girlfriend who insists on only personally meeting guys she is 'physically attracted to'. Fair enough, but I was under the impression that the word physical implied that you were in one another's physical presence; after all, how do you know if you're attracted to someone simply by looking at four photos of them in Singha beer tank tops doing shots off a stripper's stomach in Thailand?
Tinder is popular among the dating sub-set as, unlike dating websites such as RSVP, it's free to use. It's become quite a source of amusement among people I know, who marvel at the amount of 'pictures of men's unmentionables' sent to them (come on guys, no woman is going to be impressed by that. If she doesn't want it on her phone, she certainly doesn't want it anywhere near her). Swooning with the romance of it all? It gets better. Not only has Tinder become another online way for people to deceive, disgust, and mistrust one another, but it has now made social outings a nightmare. If you can get your friends to stop trawling through their Facebook feeds through dinner, fair play to you. If you can manage to stop them swiping their fingerprints off on Tinder, you should be working to resolve the Syrian conflict. One of the many hilarious by-products of this new phenomenon is watching people that use Tinder out on the town. Sitting in a bar with some friends recently, I saw them surreptitiously sneaking side glances at a pair of dudes that were going through their phones with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. 'Look,' my friend whispered to me, 'they're on Tinder! We've probably come up on their app cos' we're in such close proximity! They're sizing us up compared to our Tinder photos!' My friends were mortified. No longer able to hide behind their phones, they were about to actually meet someone in person.We quickly left the bar and ran on to the street, a relative safe zone crawling with people, scrambling Tinder's signal.
It may certainly be hard to meet a person you want to spend your life with in this day and age, and arranged marriages by proxy probably aren't the answer. In the end, I'm a realist, and I know grand romance is not what it used to be. But after spending many nights decoding the tone of a bloke's 'hey,' in a Tinder message with my girlfriend, I think this app is doing more harm than good.