Tinder: the end of human interaction as we know it?

I signed up to Tinder less than 12 hours ago and already someone has tried to have phone sex with me.

I should probably make it clear that this new endeavour is not the result of one particularly lonely Saturday night in front of the television; I am actually in a happy long-term relationship, so this was all purely for research purposes.

After a lengthy discussion, during which I managed to persuade my long-suffering other half that I am definitely not going to run off with a 6ft4 skiing instructor called Eduardo, he (reluctantly) gave his consent and I set off with my notebook and iPhone in hand.

Before I downloaded the little orange app I knew almost nothing about it, so it was what you might call a foray into unknown territory. In a nutshell, though, the proviso is as follows: Tinder works by location, using information from your Facebook account to create a basic profile before suggesting potential matches in your area.

Like an updated version of the original ‘Hot or Not’, members swipe right for yes, and left for no, and if the positive feelings are mutual, the magic really begins and you can start messaging each other.

Unlike in the real world, a person can only begin contacting you if you’ve both ‘liked’ one another, so this should, in theory, eliminate the possibility of any unwanted advances.

It’s only been around since September 2013, but already the app has more than 10 million users worldwide, and quite a reputation to boot.

Type the world ‘Tinder’ into Google, and one of the first results to appear is an article by The Daily Mirror entitled: ‘A third of men on Tinder will swipe right to anything’.

Whoa, that really doesn’t bode well for romantic longevity.

Head on over onto Tinder’s own website though, and it’s a whole different story. Their slogan: ‘Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better’ makes a bold claim indeed, and I’m interested to see if there’s any truth in it.

Despite their slightly sensationalist headline, The Mirror does go on to say that ‘Most people [on Tinder] aren’t just looking for casual sex’ as only 1 in 200 members mention ‘sex’ in their profile, and 56% of people filled out their profile section, rather than just leaving it blank.

Co-founder and CEO Sean Rad said: “For us, Tinder was never actually intended as a dating app. We looked upon it more as a solution to a social problem.”

What problem is that? Call me old-fashioned, but what’s wrong with stepping outside your front door and meeting people in the flesh, like the good old days?

Nikita, 23, from London has been using Tinder since it first because available and says she joined hoping to meet new people.

“Living in London means it can sometimes be difficult to meet new people because everyone seems so wrapped up in their own lives. Tinder is a great solution to that – it’s an ice-breaker.”

It’s a couple of hours into my own Tinder adventure, and so far, my most meaningful conversations have been with a guy called David* who messaged me precisely 2 minutes after I signed up. According to his profile, he’s 24 and works in PR, and his ‘about me’ section betrays a rather appealing dry sense of humour: “I paid my taxes 18 months late. Sorry HMRC. I used my tax rebate to buy more pillows. I’m still not sure about them.”

We’ve only exchanged a few messages, but we’ve been getting along pretty well, probably because unlike most of the other guys who’ve ‘swiped right,’ his opening line wasn’t: ‘Whoa, you’re fit.’

Messaging David is fun. We’ve talked about university, work, our plans for the long weekend, and even some future long term goals. He seems intelligent, kind, thoughtful, and genuinely interested in what I’ve got to say. It’s all going well until he does the unthinkable and asks me out for coffee.

Overwhelmed by a mixture of guilt, shock and another emotion which I can’t quite place (probably more guilt), I close down the app immediately and don’t respond for hours.

Okay, so it’s not like David and I were setting a date for the wedding, but still, I can’t help feeling disingenuous and a little bit mean. I’d even go so far as to say I feel dirty.

Once the initial guilt begins to subside, my first thought is ‘Christ. We only started messaging a few hours ago.’ But is he really being too forward? I’m not sure. I still don’t really know what it’s all about.

Mark, 19, from Worthing said that for him Tinder is little more than a game:

“When I joined it was all a bit of a novelty. I’ve been on quite a few dates but none of them ended up being anything serious. I made it clear that all I wanted was a bit of fun.”

Amy, 25, from Brighton said Tinder isn’t the right place to go if you’re looking to commit:

“I’ve met some nice guys through Tinder but no one who I’d call boyfriend material. I think it’s a great concept but if you want a lasting relationship then maybe look elsewhere.”

But, for one couple at least, it’s not all cheesy chat-up lines and casual sex. Joe Hardy and Melissa Sisson met on Tinder last year and got engaged in March 2014:

“Mel and I matched in June 2013, I asked her to marry me eight months later and thankfully she said yes! At first some of my friends thought I was crazy but now our relationship seems to have gone down in history as a Tinder fairy-tale!”

So maybe Tinder isn’t just a hook-up app after all. Maybe, if you look hard enough – past all the beer-swilling, onsie-wearing good time guys and gals – you might just find your Mr (or Mrs) Right.

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. ‘Do you have Whatsapp?’ is Tinder speak for ‘What’s your number?’
  2. ‘What are you here for?’ means ‘Will you just have sex with me?’
  3. Probably about 90% of members only use it for sex. Either that, or I have astronomically bad taste in men.
  4. It’s very addictive. Even if you’re only using it for the purposes of journalistic research.
  5. It will make you realise that you are shallower than you ever thought possible.
  6. There are a lotof vile men out there. Don’t get me wrong, the same probably goes for women, but I can’t say for sure because I didn’t search for both sexes.
  7. Just because it’s got a bit of a reputation, doesn’t mean to say that a Tinder match can’t be the start of something real. If other people can find love on an app, then there’s hope for us all.
  8. If all this wasn’t enough, now there’s even a Tinder musical:
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