Tinder not the best place to find your ‘match’

By Channing Kaiser / Columnist

As generic relationship advice, your grandmother may have once told you that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But in the jungle that is college dating, this statement often isn’t true. We care about our appearances and those of others a lot.

Look at Tinder. Tinder is a smartphone app that centers on judging people’s appearances. Think he’s hot? Swipe to the right. Not digging the neck beard? Swipe to the left. If you both “like” each other, then you’re “matched” and can exchange phone numbers and awkwardly start messaging each other.

Tinder functions solely on a hot-or-not premise. There’s no way of knowing if a person likes 19th century British literature or Nickelback until you both like each other’s photo and start a conversation.

If you want to have a one-night stand with someone based on mutual attraction and consent, go for it. But understand what you’re buying into when you participate in this culture, especially with apps such as Tinder. There’s a good chance that the person doesn’t care about your passion for karaoke or Benedict Cumberbatch. He or she liked you because he or she thought you were hot, and that may be the only reason he or she’s sticking around.

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According to one survey in the 2011 HBO documentary “When Strangers Click: Five Stories from the Internet” in regards to online dating, women are most afraid of meeting a serial killer, whereas men are most afraid that the woman will be fat.

To test this study, the guys behind Simple Pickup, a male-driven dating site, conducted a social experiment. They had a conventionally attractive woman get several dates using Tinder. Before the dates, they used makeup and body adhesives to make her overweight, by what I estimate to be about 100 pounds. Then they sent her on her way and recorded the men’s responses.

They were horrific. Four out of the five men bailed with bizarre excuses ranging from “I’m married” to going to the bathroom and never returning. Some got visibly angry.

Then, they tested the reverse scenario, adding body adhesives to a guy. All five women stayed for the entire date and were kinder and less blunt than their male counterparts. One even gave him a kiss at the end.

Both studies say a lot about gender responses and concerns when it comes to dating, but is it really surprising the guys were upset? 

Tinder isn’t your average dating site. There are no dating profiles, nothing to give obvious clues to your personality. It simply presents a photo as a source of attraction. 

The experiment doesn’t say what kind of communication the people had besides agreeing to the date. If they’d had lengthy conversations about their mutual love for Nicolas Cage, then the men’s rude responses would be less justified. But if all they did was like each other based on their profile pictures and then arrange to meet up, I’m not surprised it unfolded this way.

Let me be clear: I think the men’s responses were insensitive and sometimes flat-out mean, but I don’t think you should expect anything better coming from Tinder. This is what happens when appearance is the linchpin of attraction.

There’s a fine line between preferences and prejudices, between preferring fit girls and fat-shaming girls who you don’t think are skinny enough. Tinder users, specifically men, blur the lines between the two.

Although Tinder is often thought of as a hookup, not dating, app, I do know several people who have met their significant others through Tinder. 

Sometimes, a profile picture is enough to hint at a personality. Are those mountains in the background? He must be outdoorsy. Swipe right. Is he holding a red solo cup? Too much of a partier. Swipe left. Why’s he kissing a girl in that photo? Does he already have a girlfriend? Swipe left and gag a little.

We live in a society that tries to praise ignorance of physical differences with expressions like “race doesn’t exist,” “everyone has a beautiful body,” and “no girl ever needs to wear make-up.”

But Tinder throws all the blindfolds out of the window and allows you to judge people on physical differences. It’s a place that allows both preferences and prejudices to thrive, not distinguishing between the two.

If you truly want your grandmother’s words of “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” to be true, then stop supporting Tinder or other similar apps. Tinder is all about appearances, so if you want something more than that, don’t participate. You know exactly what you’re signing up for.

Write to Channing at [email protected]