To swipe or not to swipe: Tinder use at Colby

“White cis male looking to oppress.” The bio of one of the guys I found on Tinder. Ah the gems you find on this infamous app. Everyone has a fun (mostly not-so-fun) Tinder story about some weirdo who messaged them some crazy shit. From these experiences, no one seriously thinks you can use Tinder as a legitimate dating app, right? It’s all for entertainment, right?

I mean, I am a fan of the cheesy pick-up line, but really, how many times can you hear that shit over and over and still call it entertaining? Why do we download this supposedly dead-end app? One junior who asked to remain anonymous and whom I’ll refer to as “Swiper No Swiping” said that after downloading it at her cousin’s wedding when she was bored, she expected “absolutely nothing from it” and spent the whole first night “dorkin’ around” on the app. A senior who also requested to remain anonymous and who I’ll subsequently refer to as “McLovin’” said “I thought ‘This could be entertaining’” and that he downloaded it only for “shits and gigs.” It seems like no one I talked to actually downloaded it for its purpose. A sophomore who (surprise!) also wished to remain anonymous and whom I will heretofore refer to as Tinderella said she only downloaded it for fun, because she just “expected to see some weirdos” and that it was only a game to her. Everyone has the excuse that they only downloaded it out of boredom or because their friends made them. I mean, I downloaded the app last Finals Week as a last ditch effort to find another way to procrastinate.

Many people are quick to say that the only reason they have Tinder is for entertainment. McLovin’ said that he has “never once actually utilized Tinder for its actual intended function of like trying to meet up with people.” Tinderella explains that she “definitely [doesn’t] think that people use it to find hook ups. [She] think[s] tinder is used at Colby more as entertainment.” She states that it’s about fun, it’s like a game and not too serious. Two of my friends matched with the same Bowdoin hockey player and decided to send him the exact same message to mess with him. Another of my friends communicates strictly with GIFs on Tinder. People definitely use it to mess with random people online.

Others admit that they use it for a self-esteem boost, because who doesn’t love swiping right and seeing the fateful “It’s a Match” pop up on your screen. “It feels good to know that someone you think is attractive thinks you’re attractive too,” explains Tinderella. McLovin’ agrees. He says that “it’s like self-regulatory almost… like, I matched with all these attractive girls, so I must be attractive.” This isn’t always true for everyone. When first confronted with the link between self-esteem and Tinder, McLovin’ stated bluntly, “not matching with hot girls is not really a self-esteem boost.”

Despite meeting her previous boyfriend on Tinder, Tinderella said that she never expected to meet her boyfriend on an app like that, and that she wasn’t even on the app looking to hook up with someone. “It was more just boredom that brought me to Tinder, and then we just met and really got along. I really haven’t told many people because there is such a sigma around it.”

There is  a stigma around Tinder. No one wanted to be interviewed for this article; all my sources are anonymous. Come on guys. Why are we so scared that we like to judge people online? What’s this taboo? Tinderella explains that ideally relationships start in “some sort of rom com meet-cute, but in this day and age that’s just not what happens.” Tinder relationships aren’t as rare as one would think. McLovin’ admitted to knowing a couple people who met on Tinder and Tinderella said that her best experience on Tinder was meeting her last boyfriend there. But even for Tinderella it wasn’t the not-so-simple simple meet on Tinder, hook up, become a “thing”, DTR (define the relationship), become BF/GF. She explained that they “never made it a hook up thing or anything we talked a couple times and ended up getting coffee because why not. I think everyone should realize the limits to online communication with people you’ve yet to meet.”

How do you hit it off with someone without ever speaking? And with so many options at our fingertips it seems unlikely that we’ll commit anything substantial to this Bowdoin Economics Major named Josh versus Blake, the UMF Linebacker. New people are coming into the deck all the time, so why give any effort to this digital person than this other one? At Colby, you don’t even have to.

Interestingly, of Colby’s hook up culture, it’s easier to find a hook up on a Saturday night while you’re drunk in the Apartments than on Tinder. Think about it: drunk on a Saturday night to find a hook up all you have to do is wander into an apartment playing “Promiscuous” by Nelly. There are many advantages to Colby’s hook up culture. You a) don’t have to talk to your hook up before hooking up (literally just grab his/her/their face and you’re set), b) you don’t have to go anywhere far (an icy Chapel Hill can be dangerous though), and c) it’s not even necessary to know their name. It creates this weird paradox, where Tinder, mocked for noncommittal hook ups and dead end online interactions, becomes more commitment than actually hooking up with someone at Colby.

McLovin’ explained that on Tinder “there’s definitely no risk,” but at Colby, “you see people you don’t want to see every day.” There’s an added level of safety on Tinder because in the end you can just unmatch and walk away, while at Colby if you try to do that, you’ll end up bumping into them in line at Take 4.

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