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A major Tinderance

The art of deciphering a Tinder profile

It was brought to my attention today that my peers log into Tinder with a wide array of intentions. Basically, it perplexed me that my friend actually slept with someone she met using the app. My personal philosophy is this: use it sparingly, don’t respond when someone messages you and never meet in person.

Now, since writing that last sentence, I’ve started to question why I bother at all. It’s a mystery — but I guess the only succinct reason I can give, without digging into some deeper Freudian psychoanalytical explanation, is that it’s fun.

I go on Tinder sometimes for 10 minutes in the library when I need a break, usually rapidly swiping left (A.K.A. “no”) until I see someone semi-attractive, browse through a couple of his pictures and decide to graciously bestow my personalized stamp of approval. When I see a guy friend, I almost always “like” him. It’s my little way of saying, “Hey!” But maybe that’s just me…

In an Opinion column last year, one writer wrote these sorts of apps promote “superficial judgment.” She wrote about how it is inconclusive and demeaning to “like” someone based on one picture. I agree with this in theory, but when it comes to sex, who cares about theory? Admit it — this is exactly what you do in person too, especially when potential sexual activity is involved. Or at least possibly involved — because like I said, my body is never up for grabs through a Tinder exchange.

On the other hand, to regress to the psycho-analytics I said I wouldn’t bring up, there’s a smidgen of glee involved when you “like” someone and the words “You’ve Matched” flash on the screen. Showing yours and your “partner’s” pictures side-by-side, it begins to feel like an online matchmaking site (note: Tinder is not that kind of site).

It’s the same feeling you get when you catch someone eyeing you at a bar, or when a friend tells you her friend thinks you’re cute. But allow me to repeat: a smidgen of glee. Not more.

Then there’s the guy who messages way too quickly with a, “Hello Valerie, how are you doing?” That’s too formal — you should just write me a letter. There’s the guy who says, “Sup girl?” Then after two days of no response, he says, “Good thing your good looking because your deff not getting by on your personality.” He’s got a good sense of humor, but he’s too eager and has no grammar skills. One time, I got a, “Hi match :).” I humored myself by responding “Hi lighter :).” He didn’t get it.

The main determining factor, though, when appreciating a match is what his first picture looks like. I not only judge what his physical features are, but what exactly his picture is of. It says a lot — what picture would you want to communicate first to a potential lover? It speaks louder than a Facebook profile picture. It’s your mating call. It’s what you like about yourself and what you’re proud of.

There’s the guy whose pictures are all with his fraternity brothers. One is always from Foxfield. I almost instantly swipe left. For one, I don’t have time to study all of the faces and decipher which one is the boy is in question, and two, this guy is almost certainly doing the same thing at Trinity, lost in a crowd of khakis and Patagonias. Then there’s the guy with the selfie, laying down on his pillow with a straight face and tattoos down his neck. And the one flexing his bicep while holding a fish he just caught. Need I continue?

What they choose to write says a lot, too. What would be the first thing you’d want to communicate with actual words to someone you could develop relations with? How will you impress him or her and grab attention? You have to focus on what you think your viewers are looking for.

“UVA Law 2016.” You’re pretentious.

“What’s your favorite Pokémon?” Too old-school.

“I don’t know how else to say this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” Funny, you just told me otherwise.

“Don’t sweat the petty stuff and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.” Now we’re talking! Figuratively — not literally. This guy merits a swipe right just for that.

Maybe I am naturally quick to judge, or maybe this app does promote “superficial judgment,” but I think it’s just a mere reflection of what we’re actually doing when assessing someone’s persona in real life. First impressions leave a major mark on us psychologically, and I don’t hesitate to argue our general assumptions about 98 percent of the people we meet are based on interactions which reveal less about them than a Tinder profile can — at least when you have my deciphering skills.

Valerie’s column runs biweekly Fridays. She can be reached at v.clemens@cavalierdaily.com.


Published February 6, 2014 in Life

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