Tinder

This is Tinder. It's like Grindr, but apparently the proper spelling adds some degree of class & glamour to the whole operation.

For those of you who haven't had the good fortune to use it, Tinder is an application for iPhone that lets you Like or Dislike people of your gender preference within a determined radius (protip- bump it up to 100 miles. State schools will help you). You connect to Facebook so the app can pull profile pictures and save your information for when you're trying to run for public office or get an I-banking job. Then, if you ‘like’ someone who ‘likes’ you back, the app opens up a chat window. Now you're free to ask for that rimjob you’ve always wanted. The advantage here is the only thing people see, even if you're matched with them, is your first name, age, picture, mutual friends, and shared interests, presumably so you have some intermediary step between "hi" and "rimjob."

Tinder has a website. Tinder's website is useless and has zero information besides a comically large ‘Download’ button plastered across the screen. With a little digging around you can find the Privacy Policy in which they reserve the right to collect your phone's unique ID number, your IP address, location, first-born son & c., & c., & c. Tinder has a commercial, too- a YouTube video featuring someone with passing resemblance to Andy Samberg doing his best Andy Samberg impression as he yells, "excuse me, ladies inside this restaurant... are any of you partially bisexual and willing to experience threeway sex?" (sic).

With a little more digging around you can find Tinder's parent company is something called Hatch Labs, which is weird because they got shut down on Feb. 1 by their parent company. That parent company is IAC, coincidentally the same company that owns Match.com, Chemistry.com, and OKCupid, three of the most popular online dating sites in the country (sorry, Christian Mingle).

Using Facebook photos was actually a brilliant, if unintentionally brilliant, move. Tinder combines the shady pleasure of late-night Facebook lurking with a kind of forced confrontation between people who are lurking each other. Nothing is sadder than a Tinder match without any messages, but the anonymity (if your radius is sufficiently high) guarantees you won't see the girl you were shamelessly hitting up sitting next to you in your Latin class. And plus the "only for iPhone" deal, while coming off as more financially practical than strategic, could be interpreted as quite the savvy marketing plan. Everything from the curly script announcing "It's a match!" to the rounded red & off-white UI elements and action buttons just screams Pinterest, making the whole experience:

1. definitely, without a doubt targeted at getting girls to join

2. more like collecting pictures of cupcakes, or cats, or wedding dresses, or bedrooms, or food porn, or crafts, or colored hair braids, or nails, or things with mustaches on them, or landscapes overlaid with terrible, stupid inspirational quotes, than actually interacting with real people.

So this is where it starts to get thoroughly weird and a little hairy, insofar as how the pictures are actually connected to living, breathing people on the other end. Back to IAC, Match.com & co. for a minute. Profiles on those websites are very clearly attached to people– they're paying for the privilege of having an online copy of themselves out there to date online copies of other people and then with luck those online copies are good representations of the real people behind them and they (the real people) can get together to try to be just a little less lonely for a couple of hours. People spend serious amounts of time tailoring their profiles with the most flattering pictures, details about their personal lives, likes, dislikes, religion, political views, favorite cricket teams, etc. (kind of like how you could learn everything you wanted to know about someone from their MySpace page when you were in middle school). Tinder, on the other hand, takes about 10 seconds to set up and roughly zero effort. Hit a button, wait for it to connect, start rating pictures. Almost nothing in the profile besides the pictures. This emphasis ensures the connection between the pictures and any uncomfortable or unpleasant details about the people in them is rough at best. A wholly, 100% physical attraction deal. See preceding paragraph re Pinterest.

Tinder has been vastly more successful in getting young people to try this type of online ‘dating’ service than any other, but that's precisely because this isn't actually a dating service at all. No college student surrounded by hot people their age wants to meet their next boy- or girl-friend over an app that says nothing about the people you’re rating, so it turns into collecting matches and then doing nothing with them. Getting a match can be a bit of a confidence boost, and seeing the occasional totally unreal-level hot girl is exciting, but that’s all they are. Unreal. People scrubbed of everything interesting. And while "hey– aren't you my Tinder match?" could turn into the pickup line of the decade, it maybe, probably, definitely won't.