The dating phone app Tinder has been picking up a lot of notoriety recently. I've been using it myself, and to avoid burying the lead, let me say that I think Tinder is awesome. It’s natural and superficial and addictive and just new enough to be a little weird. It’s all those things, but the app definitely understands what it is, a digital prosthetic, a technological resource that allows you to expand a specific niche of your social life based upon who you already are. It's exactly what social media should be.
For those unfamiliar, Tinder works as "hot or not" meets online dating. The app pulls pictures of other Tinder users from Facebook, giving you the option to say "like" or "nope" based on a small set of criteria: 5 or fewer pictures, common Facebook friends, shared Facebook interests, whatever that user has decided to write as their tagline, when they last logged onto Tinder, and how far away they were when they did it. This is all the information you have to decide whether or not you "like" someone. And a Tinder detractor would tell you that it isn’t much information at all.
As I mentioned in my first sentence, I’m not a Tinder detractor. The amount of information is actually a strength of the app, making it closer to real life socializing.
What do you know about a stranger at a bar, in a bookstore, at the coffee shop, or on a plane flight home before a conversation begins? Ignoring all arguments for Sherlock-levels of observational powers, I’d say that you know more from Tinder’s menu-item presentation than a random, live sighting. The difference between a Tinder meet and the live stranger meet is that conversation on Tinder can only begin after both parties have "liked" each other. If nothing else, there is an implied assumption that both parties are attracted to each other before the conversation ever begins.
With that one conversational lubricant added, everything about Tinder is much more like real-life dating than online dating. There are no profiles and questionnaires in which to concoct an imagined chemistry. There is nothing but the conversationally undervalued "hot" factor from which to build upon. To anyone that believes a person's willingness to choose between asking "Why are you here" instead of "What do you do," is of equal importance to the answerer's response, the lack of imposed connections leads to a much more organic process, which seems to be people's primary detractor from online dating.
Let’s put this in analog terms. For guys, Tinder is the resourceful, albeit non-traditional, wing-person of that stranger in the bar walking up to you and saying, "Hey, my friend thinks you’re cute." That’s an empowering piece of information. For girls, I don’t even have a good analogy, but the main takeaway is that only guys you’ve deemed as attractive or safe or interesting or whatever are allowed to talk too you (it’s scary how much I get women). There is no way that can be a bad thing.
A hypothetical: Let's say another Tinder user "matches" with you. You both find each other attractive, so it should be easy, right? Not necessarily. It’s always an inherently awkward thing to start chatting with someone based on little aside from mutual attraction, it’s a backwards discovery process from the mystery of attraction that exists upon meeting a live person. So how should you proceed? Check out Tinderlines.com for what some people consider good ideas (at the very least, they're hilarious).
My recommendation is to treat a new conversation on Tinder's messenger no differently than you would a face to face. Why not? You know nothing about the personality of your "match," so every conversation will be a dance texted with crossed fingers. I would say it's more art than science, but the beauty of this app is that it gives you a greater mathematical chance of not only meeting a significant other, but just meeting cool, open-minded people that are, at the very least, down for a minimal level of social-life expansion.
You are as attractive as you are, and maybe only 9% of the population has chemistry potential with your brand of attractiveness. If you want a more active social life, isn't it just easiest to use a technology like this to put more opportunities in your relational pipeline? It at least seems logical.
I’ve heard several reasons that single people are against being on Tinder. It’s "weird" or "awkward" or my personal favorite, "I’m not that desperate." Whatever. Pathetic excuses. These are the kind of people who see all the angles but never have the stones to play one. If Moneyball were a movie about dating (it’s probably a porn at the very least), these non-desperate people would probably be real-life Yankees, or they're the Yankees' model girlfriends with no needs to gain an edge when it comes to discovering and securing talent (whatever "securing" means to you). But most of us are Billy Bean, not Brad Pitt, so why not use Tinder? It's really just an extension of you.