The article titled “Tinder and the Dawn of Dating Apocalypse” by Nancy Jo Sales which was published in the well known magazine Vanity Fair some years ago had sparked a social media war between Tinder and Vanity Fair. It talked about how Tinder and other such apps have inspired a new mindset where casual physical intimacy has become more important than romance, relationships and ‘happily ever afters’.
(Italicized paragraphs are direct quotes from the article)
‘It’s a balmy night in Manhattan’s financial district, and at a sports bar called Stout, everyone is Tindering. The tables are filled with young women and men who’ve been chasing money and deals on Wall Street all day, and now they’re out looking for hookups.”
I recently read this paragraph in an article titled ‘Tinder and the Dawn of Dating Apocalypse’ . Had I read this article some years back, I would have wondered about the meaning of the word ‘hookup’. However, now I know it means casual sexual encounters or even beginning of a relationship. The interesting bit is that when this article was published some years back, the people at Tinder, the well known dating platform had taken offense to it and had blasted Vanity Fair. In turn, Tinder was attacked by netizens, which resulted in such a backlash that Tinder’s CEO Chris Payne was replaced within 24 hours after the company’s official account went on tweeting spree against Nancy Joe Payne, the journalist who wrote the article.
The article is quite interesting because it talks about the new age mindset of men and even women when it comes to dating.
“Guys view everything as a competition,” he elaborates with his deep, reassuring voice. “Who’s slept with the best, hottest girls?” With these dating apps, he says, “you’re always sort of prowling. You could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day—the sample size is so much larger. It’s setting up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them, so you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.”
Tinderella Replaces Cinderella
Gone are the days when life was as simple as Cinderella waiting for her Prince Charming. Today’s modern Casanovas don’t want to do the happily ever after. Infact, not even close. All they want is a ‘Tinderella’- someone they can bed and forget.
“He says that he himself has slept with five different women he met on Tinder—“Tinderellas,” the guys call them—in the last eight days. Dan and Marty, also Alex’s roommates in a shiny high-rise apartment building near Wall Street, can vouch for that. In fact, they can remember whom Alex has slept with in the past week more readily than he can.”
The death of romance
If you look at the Indian scenario, most old time movies or even the new age ones, have some semblance of romance even if the guy is ultimately trying to entice the girl into physical intimacy. Time was spent in befriending or courting the girl. However, as the author says Tinder and other such apps have changed the dynamics, at least in the western world. To some, this game would appear more sinister than ever.
“And yet a lack of an intimate knowledge of his potential sex partners never presents him with an obstacle to physical intimacy, Alex says. Alex, his friends agree, is a Tinder King, a young man of such deft “text game”—“That’s the ability to actually convince someone to do something over text,” Marty explains—that he is able to entice young women into his bed on the basis of a few text exchanges, while letting them know up front he is not interested in having a relationship.”
But Marty, who prefers Hinge to Tinder (“Hinge is my thing”), is no slouch at “racking up girls.” He says he’s slept with 30 to 40 women in the last year: “I sort of play that I could be a boyfriend kind of guy,” in order to win them over, “but then they start wanting me to care more … and I just don’t.”
“Dude, that’s not cool,” Alex chides in his warm way. “I always make a point of disclosing I’m not looking for anything serious. I just wanna hang out, be friends, see what happens … If I were ever in a court of law I could point to the transcript.” But something about the whole scenario seems to bother him, despite all his mild-mannered bravado. “I think to an extent it is, like, sinister,” he says, “ ‘cause I know that the average girl will think that there’s a chance that she can turn the tables. If I were like, Hey, I just wanna bone, very few people would want to meet up with you …
A Changed Dating Game
Does that mean that men can no longer be trusted when they show that they are interested in you or even when they utter those three magical words? Does this mean that romance as we know it is over and has simply become a convenient ploy to get cosy with a woman? What is the reason for this change?
“I call it the Dating Apocalypse,” says a woman in New York, aged 29.
As the polar ice caps melt and the earth churns through the Sixth Extinction, another unprecedented phenomenon is taking place, in the realm of sex. Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about a hundred years, has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship. “We are in uncharted territory” when it comes to Tinder et al., says Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.”
People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, but now Internet meeting is surpassing every other form. “It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually,” Garcia says. “It is unprecedented from an evolutionary standpoint.” As soon as people could go online they were using it as a way to find partners to date and have sex with. In the 90s it was Craigslist and AOL chat rooms, then Match.com and Kiss.com. But the lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in You’ve Got Mail (1998) seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today.”
Pressing the right button
Indeed, internet has changed a lot of things in our world, including relationships. However, with the advent of mobile phones, getting someone by pressing a button has become all the more easy.
“Mobile dating went mainstream about five years ago; by 2012 it was overtaking online dating. In February, one study reported there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida. “It’s like ordering Seamless,” says Dan, the investment banker, referring to the online food-delivery service. “But you’re ordering a person.”
Food delivery apps and dating apps have one thing in common. Depending on your preferences, there are plenty to choose from and there is no dearth of options when it comes to the menu.
“The comparison to online shopping seems an apt one. Dating apps are the free-market economy come to sex. The innovation of Tinder was the swipe—the flick of a finger on a picture, no more elaborate profiles necessary and no more fear of rejection; users only know whether they’ve been approved, never when they’ve been discarded. OkCupid soon adopted the function. Hinge, which allows for more information about a match’s circle of friends through Facebook, and Happn, which enables G.P.S. tracking to show whether matches have recently “crossed paths,” use it too. It’s telling that swiping has been jocularly incorporated into advertisements for various products, a nod to the notion that, online, the act of choosing consumer brands and sex partners has become interchangeable.”
When Maggi, was first advertised as instant noodles which cooked be cooked in ‘two minutes’, not many realized that the claim was simply a marketing gimmick. Cooking Maggi was more than a two minute job, sometimes, even ten minutes depending on the recipe. But Maggi could satisfy your hunger more quickly as compared to the painstaking ‘sabzi and roti’ which took time, effort and expertise, which is why it became more popular. The dating apps seem to be following a similar path.
“It’s instant gratification,” says Jason, 26, a Brooklyn photographer, “and a validation of your own attractiveness by just, like, swiping your thumb on an app. You see some pretty girl and you swipe and it’s, like, oh, she thinks you’re attractive too, so it’s really addicting, and you just find yourself mindlessly doing it.” “Sex has become so easy,” says John, 26, a marketing executive in New York. “I can go on my phone right now and no doubt I can find someone I can have sex with this evening, probably before midnight.”
…To be continued
This article by Shailaza Singh appeared in Rashtradoot’s Arbit section on Sunday, 5 September 2021