Guest Post: Tinder Lyfe 3 – The Nuances of Messaging

Time for Tinder Round 3, everyone! My clever, hilarious wyfe V is back, this time with some nuggets of wisdom related to two of the most pressing issues facing our society today: harnessing our self-worth as we swim through that sea of fish; and, what to say when we’ve encountered a flounder worth falling for… or at least, a flounder worth texting:

I love learning about other people’s perspectives on online dating and its myriad platforms. OkTrends, Vice’s online dating horror stories, and especially this lady’s Ted Talk. I love them all. It seems like nothing brings out an author’s voice like discussion of the successes and foibles of their romantic (and anti-romantic) gestures into this electronically-enabled wormhole.

Representing yourself in a flattering-yet-accurate way is not something that comes naturally to most people, especially when all you have to work with are snapshots and a paragraph or less. Words and images can seem suddenly inadequate when tasked with recreating a right-swipeable version of a human being.

It’s really not surprising, then, that we Tinder-ers see so many profiles that seem like parodies of each other, and in turn, the profiled. I’m talking here about profile pictures that involve posing with fish or sedated tigers or vacation shots that show the (Potential Tinderella) P.T. from a distance, with their hands raised in awe of a sunset on a Tibetan mountain. Or captions that tell the reader that the P.T. is AMAZING, so you BETTER be just as amazing if you want to slime up your dick in her pussy. See also: likes; hanging out with friends, family, dog/cat, dislikes; “fake people,” “short people,” “fat people,” “poor people.”

Traditional wisdom asserts that an individual is not the best candidate to judge how others conceptualize them. This may be why it’s generally considered bad taste to write your own eulogy. Our personal bias is an automatic disqualification. When dating, however, we must project a relatively flattering version of ourselves while slowly revealing our vulnerabilities. There is no Tinder profile that will perfectly represent the other complicated human on the other side of the wormhole.

As I wrote in my last post, some P.T.s may reveal their vulnerabilities too quickly for my or your particular taste. (See: How To Tinder, Part Deux: Self-Description)  From my perspective, a P.T.’s use of a cliché on their profile is both the exposure of a vulnerability—maybe they’ve internalized the cliché—and a way to hide one’s vulnerability. A commitment to individualism can be lonely.

Maybe you really love fishing, and you’re proud of that catch. Maybe that stock inspirational quote really DOES sum up your current worldview. Perhaps you are medically unable to even consider being seen with anyone whose height is not measured at 6’2” or more. If you’re on Tinder, you’re going to see a lot of people who you think are boring, or who you don’t think are tall enough, well-traveled enough, or artfully tousled enough to warrant a right-swipe.

Don’t worry about it.

Take comfort in knowing that there is something about everyone that someone else in this world will find absolutely distasteful, revolting, morally reprehensible, or—worst of all—hopelessly, shamelessly uncool.

These people who resent you without knowing you, and those who you resent without knowing are not your P.T.s.

After eliminating the absolute NOs, there are a still a lot of people in the world, and while I encourage razor’s-edge-of-cool, established-neural-pathway-searing originality at every turn, no one is that well-read, creative, and flawlessly styled at every moment of their lives. Neither a perfect personality nor symmetrical facial features are necessary passcodes to romantic success. I personally subscribe to the (clichéd) philosophy that you can’t help who you love.  Seen from the other direction, there is likely someone in the world who can’t help but love you.

Have I convinced you of the value of being yourself—your flawed, fascinating, sometimes-hokey self? Great.

I want you to be equally convinced that there are people in the world who aren’t right for you, and be totally ok with this.

This is the hard part, though: its up to you (and your P.T.s) to decide who is right for you, and who isn’t right for you. It’s also up to you to initiate conversation with your matches who you WISH would start the conversation with you.

The reason for this extensive preamble is two-fold:

  1. I am solidly on the side of a charitable attitude toward other Tinder users’ self-representations. I recognize the difficulties, both technical/aesthetic and emotional in crafting a digital self that is truthful without over-sharing, confident but accurate, and flattering yet comfortable. The point is to swipe right on people who intrigue you, and to swipe left on people who don’t do it for you. And always remember you can change your mind and un-match anyone anytime.
  2. After we’ve painstakingly built these profiles, it is necessary to engage in the crapshoot that is actually messaging other humans.

I think that other writers have thoroughly covered that some people are creeps, and that they will act in unpleasant ways when P.T.s try to interact with them. Other writers have also thoroughly covered what NOT to say to P.T.s. See Example 1.  Example 2. I will reiterate that harassment of any kind is never alright, nor should it be tolerated.

If you are a straight lady: message dudes first. They love that.

If you are a straight dude: message chicks first. They love that.

If you are any variety of queer, or potentia-queer, message P.T.s first. They love that.

If you are a dog or a cat, I think it’s cool that you can read. I’m impressed by your ability and honored that you chose to squander your groundbreaking talent and valuable time reading my writing.

As a reward for the hassle of initiating conversation, know that your P.T. is grateful that they no longer have to overcome their shyness, insecurity, and inability to think of “something to say” in order to begin interacting with you.

But what do you say? What is “something to say”?

I don’t know. I rarely remember the first thing I’ve said to someone. It doesn’t matter that much. What matters is saying SOMETHING. “Hi,” “hello,” “nice tits,” and “;)” are nothing.

Since you’re saying something, you might as well go ahead and reference something that you think the other person would like to talk about that also interests you.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m sorry. I don’t know you. And I don’t know your P.T.

I don’t have an algorithm that can vanquish false starts or eliminate small talk. Maybe you could start by mentioning something topical you’ve read lately. Like a blog post about Tinder and why I think we shouldn’t prejudge imperfect people with imperfect profiles.

PS, Did you know that every time you open up your Tinder app, the first few people you will swipe through have already swiped right on your profile?

If you want to take a better selfie, take a 10-second video of yourself “selfie-ing” and then screenshot the instant where you look the best. I still don’t recommend too heavy of a reliance on selfies.

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