Tinder and the Lost Art of Conversation

Tinder and the Lost Art of Conversation

Like any old-fashioned person, I discovered Tinder when people got over it. I installed the dating app on a business trip to Hong Kong, with the intention to uninstall it when I returned home. But I was single so I thought: what the hell, might as well use it for people to meet the next psycho (me).

I am deeply impressed with how Tinder works. I like how it studies my swiping behavior, allowing me to match with younger men who are UP graduates, working as accountants or engineers, and who are actively seeking a relationship. At the same time, the guys I match with can get their fill of detached writers with commitment issues and bipolar tendencies.

I’m not going to talk about the “life lessons” I learned on Tinder or the evils of using it. I’m a late bloomer so many think pieces have already been written harping on its flaws while I hooked up with guys on PlanetRomeo. What I want to talk about is how we have lost the art of conversation and how it has affected the way we date.

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For those who are even more old-fashioned than I am, the app works like this: you are presented with people based on your location, gender, and age preferences. You swipe left if you don’t like the person and you swipe right if you do. After swiping, you are presented with the next course of the meal, the last dish a forgotten memory. You can only send messages when you both swipe right, or you ‘match.’ That’s where the fun begins.

If you think matching with a guy you like is Tinder’s greatest challenge (and triumph if you do), think again. It’s actually talking to them. It’ll start innocuous enough. I send the first message, we talk about where we’re from, what we do, and what our interests are. Then for some reason… the conversation drifts off and soon we lose interest. You’re lucky if you even reach this stage: many times you match with someone and they don’t even send a message or even reply. At first I thought it was buyer’s remorse. But my friend C, my Tinder godmother, said, “They’re probably busy or are suffering from dating fatigue. When you’ve been there a while, you can feel all small-talked out.” Well, that’s a relief. At least it doesn’t always mean they regretted swiping right.

After days of mindless swiping (and meeting the 967th geek and the 732nd sapiosexual), I thought: whatever happened to letting our relationships bloom, like the first flower in spring? Whatever happened to exerting more effort in developing friendships? In the age of social media where everyone will be famous with every click of the refresh button, we demand instant gratification. This pace has reduced us to filtered photos, thoughts in less than 140 characters, links without any context, and selfies with totally unrelated captions composed of quotes or Bible verses.

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Because of Tinder’s lightning-fast pace, we have lost the tender getting-to-know-each-other phase. All our relationships are undercooked, and we move on before we realize the full potential of the match. That could be our future boyfriend, best friend, worst enemy, murderer. But we are eager to meet someone new at the first lull, when we’re already itching to swipe again. Its speed has desensitized us and has increased our dating appetites and our fear of missing out. Is your match not as interesting as you’d hoped? There’s always a new guy on the horizon, just waiting. All you need to do is swipe right and hope their expectations are low.

I believe in the slow burn. I believe in asking questions, observing non-verbal cues, piecing together off-hand remarks to understand a person. People are wonderful contradictions. Even if you’re not looking for anything romantic, you learn so much by observing, and yes, conversing. Most importantly, this works best if it goes both ways. After all, conversations are a two-way street.

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The art of conversation is dying the way of the dodo bird and starlets’ careers. It’s a shame that people can no longer carry a conversation, and reply with ‘hehe’ and ‘LOL’ when there is nothing left to say. I dread the day when I will receive a reply filled with emojis. But I am still hopeful. Like I said, I’m old-fashioned. I still believe I’ll meet someone, someone who I can talk to about the profound and the mundane, and when there is nothing left to say, we won’t whip out our phones and swipe again. We’ll kiss.

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