whenever i hear the word tinder, i reach for my gun

I MUST HAVE CREATED a Tinder account a few times already, only to delete it about 20 minutes after swiping through the faces of strangers. Well, mostly strangers. Let’s say the sole joy of using such an application is seeing how your neighbors market themselves to the world. You see their faces, their ages, what they are looking for. There is a bit of a tragedy in seeing these advertisements though. Why is modern life so hard that we have to market ourselves in such a way? Or is this just another sign of progress? If we can pay taxes and vote online, then surely love can’t be far behind? Usually these photos are accompanied by words. What people say they want. What people say they are looking for. I vaguely remember reading these words at 2 AM. Then I remember deleting my account and uninstalling the app again.

I don’t remember the first time I heard about Tinder. Maybe around the time that I became single again. A friend had it. Some warned me that it was a “sex app,” meaning people just used it to fish for hookups. According to the descriptions on the site, most people using it weren’t looking for that though. They thought they were going to find the true loves of their lives, dependable, reliable partners. Sort of like pet dogs, but humans they could actually interact with. And yes, they could have sex. Maybe around that time, I logged in for the first time, and was offered up a motley crew of the eligible. I wasn’t sure on what basis I was supposed to select some of them and discard others. Attractiveness? Shared hobbies? There weren’t many beautiful women, to be honest. Many had altered their profile photos to such an extent that only the eyes and lips were left. They were like cartoon characters. I was being asked to choose an anime character. 

Some did not follow this pattern. Some women posted photos where they looked away from the camera, creating a sense of reluctance or mystery. Others trained the camera lens on their legs. Or their cleavage. Was this what it had been reduced to? Selecting a new pet human based on breast size or appearance? Maybe some other attribute. Kids, no kids. Distance. Musical taste. 

I probably swiped through hundreds of women. They fell before me like foot soldiers during the Great War. It was a slaughterhouse. The app reshuffled the deck again and again. No, no, no, yes? The ones I actually chose bothered me more than the ones I rejected. Most had a kind of psychotic gleam in their eyes. Why was I drawn to mentally disturbed women? I deleted the app.

Later, a female friend showed me her side of Tinder, the images of men standing beside their new cars, or working out in the gym with their shirts off. I had simply harnessed my Facebook profile photo for my short-lived profile. Alas, it lasted no longer than the Otto Tief government.

(It was taken of me through a window one summer, reading Sakala, and looking very literary).

What horrendous nonsense, really. What a stab in the heart of anything good and honest left in this world. Take your online dating applications and shove them. I have heard there are other apps too out there. I don’t know, if you want to find a new life partner the same way you pick out a pair of discounted snow boots on Amazon, then be my guest. But this tack in life isn’t for me. 

Whatever happened to the old days? Whatever happened to the Nineties, when you just called a girl on the phone and she was forced to speak to you, or at least you would hear her tell her mother in the background to relay the message that she was busy or not at home? Or what of just riding the bus home together and going to a bedroom while the parents were at work? Whatever happened to inglorious college dorm hookups, so blurry almost nobody could remember them? What happened to paper letters? What happened to sharing mix tapes? What happened to seeing a film?

What happened to dreaming and not writing? To sensing and yearning and feeling and not typing or swiping? What happened to not knowing what you were looking for? What happened to waking up in a feverish state soaked in sweat dreaming of her and only her? What happened?

What happened to pretty bar room girls shooting you thrilling glances? What happened to a world without the instant gratification of the digital connection? Will she write or won’t she? Will I be ‘left on read’? Will she like my comment? Why did she like all my Instagram posts at 3 AM?

There was once a quote attributed to a high-ranking Nazi official that went something like, “Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver.” In this case, we could stretch it to, “Whenever I hear the word Tinder, I reach for my gun.” If I had one. Maybe a journal instead.

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