As the only remaining unattached person in my social circle, Tinder, and the apps just like it, become a spectator sport. The reality is quite different.
The mornings after tend to have a numb feeling of familiarity. While the faces and the decor change, the feeling does not. That closeness of the night previous, that shared feeling, enabled by booze, washed away with the same medium.
Sometimes breakfast is had, sometimes not. Conversations prior to my (or their) exit range from deep to hollow, to esoteric to well-meaning. But, all conversations end with a drying out laugh which concludes with “…yeahI’llseeyoulater.”
Even the greatest of connections and whatever in-jokes we’ve barely set in the wet concrete of “us” are solely in aid of keeping the versions of us from last night, alive.
Yes, I’ve just had sex. And will do so again. But, the lack of responsibility is what I return to. The casual meh-ness of it reduces the meaning of the intimacy just shared. While we gaze into each other’s eyes in the most crucial of moments, the eyes look back, with indifference, echoing what I presume mine also read. The act, now consigned to history, returns that desensitised feeling chasing me on the transit home. A mental numbness, playing underneath the song in my ears, shadowing the thumbs I mindlessly scroll, through the matches and possibilities for next Saturday evening.
For the longest time, I’ve accepted that grey impulse as a reaction because of what Tinder fundamentally is. A reaction, for what I presumed was guilt, for purveying an empty pursuit, matched on aesthetics, and for the most part, for one purpose and one only.
But it seems to be something else. While I’ve had fun, and shared moments with complete strangers, without recompense or apology, when the lights come on, the feeling returns. Sure as the use of the winked face, or the corralling of the initial conversation to plans of the weekend.
This is probably the grandest part of Tinder. The myth of possibility. That around the corner, beyond each flick of the thumb, there is that person who will grant you the keys to the love kingdom, bringing you to the same level as that of your taken peers.
For such a social construct it is a lonely pursuit. For those who use it, it is part of the social media loop you fit into your everyday life. Facebook, Twitter, Insta, Tinder, refresh and repeat.
Apparently, and perhaps through the assumptive nature of social media, or as a plot device in a “forward-thinking” Hollywood romcom, fantastic people are making fantastic connections, and living fantastic lives, thanks to refuting the stereotype of the “hook-up app” as complete fantasy.
In fact, those friends I know who sit in the same boat never discuss our Tinder exploits, as, for those who are outside it, it is the lost city of Atlantis, and our exploits in handling the “gold” is demanded in excruciating detail. A common phrase from my married (or near to it) friends is: “If I had Tinder when I was single…phwoar”, as their eyes glaze over with the fanciful possibilities. Tinder is like your Christmas-new skateboard; everyone wants a go. And share with everyone you will, but they don’t want to own the skateboard, for the possibility of a shattered cranium.
This is probably the grandest part of Tinder. The myth of possibility. That around the corner, beyond each flick of the thumb, there is that person who will grant you the keys to the love kingdom, bringing you to the same level as that of your taken peers. A theory which, through sitting on rained bus-stops on Sunday mornings, has not yet proven to be false.
The negatives, despite their legitimacy, are possibilities. That day will come when all options are exhausted, and Tinder returns no matches. But until that day arrives, the booze-induced hormonal collection of names will continue, as that closeness distances us from truth.
We are all lost, in the arms of others.