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Internet dating: an alternative to the raging club or coffee shop to meet your future partner. From websites to phone applications, the click and type format of chatting up a female is becoming a favoured way of interaction amongst the lonely. The awkwardness of initial face-to-face conversation is removed; when the physical date finally takes place the two people generally have a fair idea of the other’s interests, job and personality. But just as with the bar scene, the online sphere remains dominated by the good looking and the confident, simply because they know how to play the game.
The best research is experimentation. I could have read about other experiences or asked people on thoughts and opinions regarding certain apps, but discovery in dating is about learning in the field. So I downloaded and joined Tinder, one of the most superficial versions of online flirtation available, all to see how effective and productive technology is in finding a suitable mate.
The application, symbolised with an icon of fire, links to your Facebook and brings across your profile photo for all to see. There isn’t much to creating a profile; a few lines of ‘about me’ and up to six photos are used to tempt the chosen demographic. All that follows is locating a desired person through a picture. In my case, this is a female between the age of 21 and 29; the image fills the screen along with a cross and tick beneath the square. Only their age and name is displayed. The user clicks either symbol, completely based on the presented photo, and if that person also likes you a notification will encourage you to send a message to the potential new acquaintance.
My first profile photo was of me wearing a football jersey in my backyard. I was picky about the women I’d click yes to, adding to the already superficial method of choosing someone, indulging in the sin. Very few matches were found; two were from girls in bikinis only linking to their naked websites online, and the other was a female who never replied. If this was to truly be tested I needed to learn the ways of online dating.
I changed direction; photos in singlets, my tattoos showing with sunglasses on, middle fingers occasionally up in sunshine and with a smile. Along with this I threw decision away; I clicked yes to every single person who appeared in the chosen 30km radius. Then came the bites, and here are the results.
I’ll use no name or location of the girls who I engaged into a discussion with; they’ll be signified by a determining trait. The first three I matched with never responded to my beginning of conversation, but the fourth became my first real trial into the strange world of distanced dating. This girl had only two photos on her profile with no description about herself, and only one of the photos displayed her face (the other had her riding a motorbike in the dark, completely covered). 25 years old with blonde hair and a casual smile, I began the conversation with ‘cute pic’. I soon received a reply, telling me she was from a location only ten minutes from mine and was new to this application. After a few messages about travel and our scepticism about Tinder, the biker gave me her mobile number and we began texting.
Soon enough the texting dissolved into sexual desire, and after twenty minutes I’d been sent a photo of an arm covering large breasts. Each day for the next week my phone alerted me to uncovered breasts, a hand covering the female genitalia and then finally the uncovered genitalia, along with numerous headshots with her tongue out and a piercing protruding through. She claimed nervousness about meeting, but eventually wanted to go for a drive to a secluded area and ‘go at it’. A date was set, a time organised, and the pictures continued. She wasn’t a thin individual, but not big either, in between with an open sexual nature and slight shyness that was surprising and surreal. I didn’t follow through with the meet.
Slightly stunned by the first experience, I started to get more notifications from suitors. Number two wasn’t so forward but also had only one facial photo. In ten minutes we’d organised a coffee date and she said she’d only give out number details and a Facebook profile after the meet. I didn’t follow through with the meet.
My rapid-fire clicking started to pay off; on average five matches were coming through per day. The females continued the secrecy with the photos; only pictures of faces, usually in groups of friends, projecting mystery. When added to Facebook I soon realised they were overweight or hid something that would otherwise affect the amount of yes clicks on the profile. Then a girl didn’t follow this path, alone and open in her six photos, a beautiful face, slim body and middle fingers up while projecting the image of a rebel. Our chats had more swearing, more flirtation and a level of openness I’d not expected, and soon she gave me her mobile number and requested a meet that night. What stopped her, funnily enough, was that she partied with a friend and wanted me to bring a friend, but ‘he has to be hot, so send a photo of him or we can’t see each other’. I didn’t follow through with the meet.
Despite these three instances, the final three were the most illuminating. A 21 year old blonde girl and I were chatting deep into the night on Tinder, when I soon tired of the activity. I gave her my number and suggested she text me some time. Seconds later my phone rings, 2:33am, and I answer to the blonde from the app. The talking flows, despite my weariness, and she tells me about how she is waiting to find a man to marry and have children with, so she can begin her career as a housewife. Blondie also suggested we have dinner at a Chinese restaurant nearby, and sent me constant pictures of her nephew with the caption ‘my babeh’ ‘my babbbyyyy’ ‘my boyy’ ‘he just loves his pizza’ ‘isn’t he amazing’. Her mother owns a horse. I didn’t go through with the meet.
At this point I’m beginning to resent the notifications and the ‘hey, how are you?’ messages time after time, which then pushed to my occupation or hobbies or opinions on life. On the verge of deleting I received simultaneous beeps, of who we shall call Kiwi and Potter (the first from New Zealand, the second a diehard fan of the wizard books). Humour and banter pass through the conversations, until Facebook and phone numbers are acquired. Yes, once again the pictures were suggestive of a different image and the level of their desire for a meet-up grew by the day, but these two females demonstrated personality traits I’d seek in a female. I soon realised that I have absolutely no desire to meet them, for I’ve been sucked in by the superficiality of Tinder. You want the girls in the pictures that never reply. The intriguing and the glamorous, the individuals that in a club attract the most attention, they are the target. For if anything was learned in this experience it was this: online, in person, over the phone or across the world, the foundations of dating never change, and will remain the same as technology furthers in importance to our lives.