At a recent dinner party I overheard some of my single friends gabbing about Tinder. “Grinder for straight people,” they said. Call me old-fashioned but what happened to meeting people in-person? Seriously, where can I meet a nice, smart guy who actually wants a conversation and to take me on a date? I don’t want to “hook up” with someone because he’s bored and happens to be around the corner from me.
Tinder. 1: a very flammable substance adaptable for use as kindling, 2: something that serves to incite or inflame. You have to at least give them some credit for the name, although rubbing a couple sticks together for a burning sensation could apply to Grinder too.
I have to try to temper my reaction to these apps, or whatever the kids call ’em these days, with a healthy dose of context. Everything is relative: I cringe at Dubstep the same way LCD Soundsystem leaves my dad with a constipated countenance. Would a younger, looser, more impatient me find a thrill in the instant gratification of sex in my palm (and not the old fashioned way)? I won’t answer that question on the grounds that it may incriminate me, but someone else coming to that conclusion isn’t beyond the scope of my understanding. Sure, it sounds pretty grimy and more than a little dangerous to me now, but just because you don’t like gangsta’ rap, don’t mean ya’ gotta listen to it.
My evasive point is this: yes, the moral fiber of the dating scene seems to be disintegrating before our very eyes, but at least these apps give it some structure and you can simply sidestep the scenes that aren’t for you. Chances are, if you value intelligent conversation, you’re not missing out on anything on Tinder. If you want a warm body to discuss Descartes, carve some time out of that busy Tumblr schedule and go to a book reading, see a play, or jam (total dad word) at a jazz club. These kinds of visceral, spiritual, and mentally stimulating activities are lighthouses for like-minded people. Complaining about Tinder’s lack of substance is like standing in McDonald’s shouting, “What’s it take for a girl to get a grilled Portobello burger with soy cheese around here??” Drive those gluten-free buns to Whole Foods, girl. The genesis of cyber-dating isn’t the end of civilized courtship, it’s just a way for people not into that kind of thing to circumvent it. So follow suit and enjoy a trimmer market now that all the heathens are online.