OPINION: “We met in the library…”

Emma Schirmer, Contributing Writer

On my phone, hidden in the deepest, most unsuspecting folder on the third page of my phone there is an app. It’s bright red, has a cute, clever fire graphic and brings a crushingly heavy weight of shame with it.

On my phone, under the finances folder, lurks the infamous social dating app: Tinder.

Now, I always said I would rather die alone than subject myself to the awkward and cringy, Gen Z and millennial game. The vision I had for myself was that of an ambitious doctor that barely had enough time for herself, let alone a whole other human being that was romantically attached to her. She had goals, she was busy curing autoimmune diseases, ardently chasing notable scientific feats and creating code for robotic limbs. And, theoretically, of course, if I did want to be romantically involved with someone, but I believed I did not need an app to find love.

I’m at a college of more than 30,000 capable, possibly available, adults like myself. Surely, I would find someone.

Before coming to college the only relationship I had been in was a long-term heterosexual relationship with one of my friends. I was painfully unprepared for the college dating scene, especially after fully coming out of the closet as bisexual. Admittedly, curiosity was slowly eating away at me. I had gone through most of my first semester very single and realized that maybe I did want to dive into that particular social scene now that I had settled into college life. So, on pure impulse and 3 a.m. delirium, I pressed download.

And oh boy, has it been a rollercoaster of a ride. Hell, it’s been such an unexplainably outlandish experience.

I don’t think I was particularly looking for anything on Tinder. I had few expectations going in, despite the surprising success rate people around me had with it, whether that was being in a committed relationship or safe casual sex. All my friends seemed to use it, so my mentality was in a “Why not?” whim. And while it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park, it has also allowed me to grow to realize what I am looking for.

That’s the interesting thing about Tinder. It is now a normalized phenomenon.

Tinder is no longer only used for casual sex. The site’s sociologist, Jessica Carbino, found by going through data and surveys that more and more users are actually looking for committed relationships. And while, yes, people looking for something non-committal are still a decent part of Tinder’s demographic, it’s not an overwhelming presence.

Tinder is now a subcategory of the dating genre. It’s made a name for itself. It’s a staple in college culture; and within that, specifically hookup culture. It is readily accessible with the tap of you fingers. It provides a simple, relaxed landscape to explore the dating pool around you. Because what silly past Emma didn’t realize is that it can be surprisingly difficult to visualize potential partners when your list of options is 30,000-strong.

Think of Tinder like a grocery store. You go in with a list of items you need to fulfill a recipe. Well, turn food into a list of attractive qualities you require for love or friendship or good sex, and suddenly you’re roaming the isle with hundreds of colorful options trying to get your attention with quippy jokes and swoon-worthy phrases. And to top it all off, the music is even provided to set the mood thanks to Spotify.

You get to clearly define the marketplace for everyone in a, let’s say, seven-mile radius if you want to include University of Richmond, which I highly recommend in my personal experience.

People question how useful it is in terms of starting invested relationships when the first thing you see is a picture. A purely physical swiping system could not possibly give way to anything beyond surface-level attraction, which has been noted as a key feature of a “hookup” app. To that I say, read the bio. Most of the time, if a person is there for purely one thing, you’ll know —  they’ll be pretty upfront. Once you weed out what you don’t want it, becomes a lot more straightforward. If you want casual sex, don’t swipe on people who clearly don’t, and if you want something committed don’t swipe on people who want the opposite. Trust me, it saves a lot of confusion and heartbreak.

Tinder to me is like a condensed eharmony. Instead of reading paragraphs of trivial information, you get the basics, the core of what that person wants you to know. And that is part of the beauty of Tinder to me: all that information unravels naturally on dates, late nights together and meaningful conversations.

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