Dating apps come in generations. In their current incarnation, they comprise a collection of mobile apps in which a user decides if a potential partner’s face is good or if it is bad, and then swipes the face to the left (the toilet) or right (your crotch, hopefully).
Previously, they were personal information scrapers designed as pseudo-algorithmic quiz games (OkCupid, Plenty Of Fish); repositories of lonely divorcees (Match, eHarmony); dedicated enthusiast-facing portals (CougarLife.com, FreeCougarDatingSites.com, CougarDatingSites.com, MyCougarDates.com/us, SeekingCougar.com, CougarFriendsDate.com, et al); and mainstream sites that for one reason or another all began posting horny classifieds around the same time (The Onion, Gawker.com, io9.com, that one Final Fantasy message board). Each time the world moves on from one batch to the next, dating culture shifts along with it—or it could be that’s the other way around—and some things get better, and some things get worse. Whatever it is, right now, that means Tinder and things that resemble Tinder.
Tinder is fine, for fucking. If you want to fuck, and there is someone out there whom you wouldn’t mind fucking and who also wouldn’t mind (or be too inconvenienced by) fucking you back, Tinder is your jam. But fucking is fucking, and dating is dating, and I think most of us would agree that there are a whole lot more people out there who we would like to penetrate or be penetrated by than there are those whom we’d like to date. Tinder’s main virtue is that it doesn’t tell you enough about someone that you’d consider not drunkenly rutting with them, and that is just fine—for fucking. But for Not Just Fucking, maybe an old-fashioned dating profile is more your speed.
Having a dating profile is really awful. You have to be earnest and funny and appear to be not over-eager to get right down to the sex stuff. A common misconception is that a benefit of the traditional dating profile is the chance to outshine your mediocre photos with excessively charming notes about yourself. This is a lie. Nothing can make your profile photos more fuckable. No, the only good thing about them is that they give a slightly higher chance of getting beyond clumsy first-time pawing and, I don’t know, go get some fucking brunch. That is no small thing. That is the entire fucking point of using a computer to do dating! What kind of asshole would surrender the time, attention, and (most importantly) meals that make up his or her dating life to an algorithm and say, I know! What if you make it completely fucking random?
But that’s what the pre-meet chat on Tinder is for, you might think. You don’t meet every match, you meet the ones who are good. I hate to be rude, man, but that is a really stupid thing to think.
First of all, how do you plan to casually mine out stuff like, “hates the gays” or “really pretty racist once you get him going” or “has scrub-ass DC-fanboy opinions about superheroes”? You can’t. They’ll figure you out. Unless your mark really fucks up and does some Humanitarians-of-Tinder-type shit-assery, you are going in blind. We have come too far, reader. We must turn back.
(Since you asked, yes, absolutely this is the shape early-onset millennial back-in-my-day-ing takes on when a certain strain of horny narcissist begins to separate from the social media mores of the moment. I barely understand Snapchat. I never understood Yik Yak, which hand-to-God I just typed out as Tik Tak before reading it out loud. Yeti, get right the fuck out. I am frightened and feeble and not quite 30.)
OkCupid still has about a million active users; the Match.com group as a whole (which owns OKC, POF, and others) has something like 59 million. Whatever. I think even more people should use them, because they are good.
Kyle Wagner never really wrote for Deadspin very much.