The VICE Channels

    Love in the Time of Tinder

    Written by

    Daniel Stuckey


    Image: Flickr

    I was recently home in Seattle, attending a wedding between a couple of old high school classmates. I was tripping out at the parade of familiar faces that'd aged ten years when I was suddenly accosted by a couple I did not know:

    "Hey, are you Dan Stuckey?" a youngish guy with blonde hair said. 

    "Um, yea...?" 

    "Well, kind of a long story, but I wanted to thank you. You see, if it weren't for you, we might not have met."


    "Well, Robert and Graham told me they have this friend, Dan Stuckey, and that I should check out your articles on Motherboard. And I got to reading a piece you did about Tinder–"

    "Oh yea?"

    "Yes, and well, it was a Tuesday night... so I downloaded the app, I wasn't doing anything else. And that's when we met. So, thank you."


    'Real-life Klout,' I thought to myself. I instantly retreated to my phone and explained what had happened to a couple of friends and my editor.

    I'd been thinking it was time to do a follow-up report on the über-successful, matter-of-fact dating app. Shortly after my initial take on Tinder was published, strange things started happening; as if in competition with Craigslist for the platform in which shallow Internet exchanges integrate with real-life:

    I started receiving e-mails from other companies, insisting I try their apps; I became a consultant (as if I have the authority); I made some new friends; I received technical and emotional support questions; I found myself in Tinder-related circumstances a lot. One of my close friends is constantly making Tinder the go-to group activity at meals.

    At first, I didn't have a lot fun with Tinder. I obsessively played with it, had a handful of matches, but only ended up going on one spontaneous, boring date. 

    Investing time in having lengthy Tinder conversations felt like it defeated the app's true calling. Not to be crude, but words are sort of overkill in the Tinder-space, right? I figure if we bank on this app for a first-sight type of feel, for a we-both-know-we-sorta-wanna-fuck type of feel, then the app should compose dating logistics like Mozart.

    I was also hesitatant because I thought it might be too early for anyone to be taking the app very seriously. Of course, everyone knows the key to a successful dating app is when users say they "don't take this very seriously." That is—only to a certain degree. I still think Bang With Friends overdid it.

    Eventually, I met the perfect girl. Yes, the date was like a Mozart concerto; we both had a nice time. OK, we might have gone too far at first, but I started singing the Tinder gospel loudly. And then she disappeared coldly, without explanation. Maybe she'd just needed a fix. I felt foolish and used. Five weeks later, she became a part of one of those wacky New York City coincidences. A coincidence in which I'd end up taking several-hundred photos of her when I had agreed to help a stylist-friend one afternoon with my camera. Damn it, universe Tinder!

    Star crossed coincidences aside, the Tinderverse has loomed over my world. If only Alec Liu had refrained from telling me about it, we might be better friends. He doesn't have an iPhone, and thus, cannot use Tinder.

    "I think it's strategically designed that way," a friend recently mused, "because five out of six women using smartphones have iPhones. And iPhones are more expensive, so it attracts a more quality user base."

    The explanation made sense to me, but when I recently asked Tinder Co-Founder Justin Mateen, he simply said it was "because the founding team had a particular expertise in iOS."

    "We have created 60 million matches and there have been a total of 5.7 billion profile ratings," he explained in an email exchange. I had asked about the app's numbers, recalling that it had seen insane growth in early spring. "We know of 20+ engagements as a result of Tinder and we constantly hear about success stories on a daily basis," Mateen wrote.

    And sure enough, I'd developed a new perspective on the app when I was in Seattle, attending that wedding. In the week I was there, I matched with nearly every girl in the app, providing emphasis to my feeling that the northwest—despite its evergreen beauty—is far too boring of a place for people to be choosy. I went on two pointless dates, with two wonderful girls. I also started to notice large numbers of high school friends my matches and I shared in common.

    Since it's become engrained in my everyday life, I now play Tinder in that same Russian roulette type of way I had before; mostly yes-ing every single girl without even looking. Doing so takes the immediate douchiness out of making judgments or worrying about being yessed back. In any case, you can always block undesirable matches once they've been made. Sure, it makes me a less proactive user, but I waste less time and get to see what all of my options are.

    As I continue forth in a galaxy of app-based and online dating, you could say I'm diluting my pool with less visceral matches—profiles shuffled between everyone that ever chose me. But I think I've become less anxious about the overall process. "All of our employees use Tinder," Mateen said when I asked about Tindering at Tinder, "although it's banned during the work day due to its addictive nature ;)"