There’s always Tinder . . .

There’s always Tinder . . .

Valentine’s Day approaches. In most western cultures it is traditionally seen as a high tide mark for all our romantic inclinations and expression, but for those both in and out of a relationship it can bring some dilemmas.

  • In a relationship and forgot the flowers or gift . . . ☹
  • Not in a relationship? Another 14th February alone . . . ☹

So how are relationships and their travails for the uber-wired Millennials we all know?

Perhaps as a sign of the times, there was a piece in the news recently about a young tennis fan getting his haircut in the style of rising star Nick Kyrgios. He knew this wasn’t going to sit well with his girlfriend but he had a gaggle of mates egging him on. When pressed about the potential damage to his relationship he shrugged and quipped, "There’s always Tinder." Forget any reaction to his haircut, how does his girlfriend feel about her partner playing the Tinder card so casually on national TV? Smile and bury it as a bit of fun?

Tinder, RSVP and its ilk, Facebook, instant messaging, Twitter, texting, Lulu (an app that allows women to rate the men they’ve dated), Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, e-cards, sexting – almost everything can be shared virtually with a ‘date’ without ever meeting in person. So Valentine’s Day begins to look a little passé, frumpy and certainly more challenging than all this electronica.

Several things stand out when observing Millennial social media use which ipso facto must directly impact on ‘real’ relationships. For example, with interconnectivity – how many of us appear relentlessly plugged in and ‘available’ via any number of the methods listed above?

Down time seems rare. An obvious casualty is the over-stimulated nervous system – has everyone had the experience of how fast some of the tech support staff in a computer store talk, how wired their nervous systems seem? This constant need for stimulation has the corollary of being easily bored. All this does not bode well for a relaxed vibe on a real date, particularly if a mobile phone is a regular interruption.

And if things progress past the first date stage, how slim is the possibility of some unhurried and tender love-making where excitement or, to call a spade a spade – lust – is in abeyance and a real connection is being nourished? Can this ever have a chance with a caffeine-fuelled, constantly stimulated nervous system?

Tinder hook-ups are by their very nature ephemeral and soulless; a dip into the Tinder excitement pond chasing the frisson of casual sex with someone who also signed up for this kind of encounter, means that the way back to feeling your heart becomes that much harder.

If meeting someone face to face on a first date, sans tech support, is going the way of the Dodo (not the ISP) the next option has been traditional online dating sites. These require some dedication and input and these sites carefully cultivate the image of being for genuine people seeking meaningful relationships. By definition the more ‘mature’.

Tinder on the other hand cuts to the chase and this is its allure. Surely what is given away in this ‘thrilling’ focus on the sexual encounter is self-respect, connection to what is really being felt and an almost irreparable loss of sensitivity.

"The worst part of Tinder is that it only helps you meet other people who are at a place in their lives where using Tinder seems like a good idea."(1)

This quote (that attracted a lot of commentary) suggests that among Millennials there exists the recognition that there is something more. Perhaps Valentine’s Day is not off the Millennial radar entirely. Some statistics about depression, distractions like alcohol and drug use, negative self worth and lack of fulfilment among Tinder users would shed more light on the effects of ‘Tindering’ but the stigma around Tinder-use ever leading to a genuine relationship is real.

There is the natural assumption that people who have been ‘hooking up’ via Tinder may struggle with monogamy. Habitual casual sex can segue unnoticed into a destructive addiction.

There are online anecdotes about Tinder users who want to commit to each other, agreeing to delete the Tinder app from their mobile phones simultaneously. Relapsing however appears to be a troubling issue. One feature of Tinder is that your usage history can’t be deleted and if you are ‘Tindering’ all other users know. The cited urge to re-download the app and check on your partner suggests a nagging lack of trust. To me it feels like there’s a downgraded definition of commitment somewhere amongst all this.

Yes there is ‘always Tinder’ but, on the other hand, there is ‘always being tender’ – the possibility of becoming more present with what is truly there to feel in your body. Initially this may seem like something to be avoided but it is possible to go beyond the nervous tension, the blocks to truly feeling, and connect with a deeper part of your self where the primary loving relationship awaits. From there it is possible to truly love others.

Reference:

  • (1)

    Reddit Showerthoughts. Submitted by Vrot-Sauce 24/1/2015. Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/comments/2tf320/the_worst_part_of_tinder_is_that_it_only_helps/

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  • By Alan Johnston, Photographer

    I have studied Social Documentary Photography. Lots of life experience throughout which I have kept a keen sense of humour.

  • Photography: Alan Johnston, Photographer

    I have studied Social Documentary Photography. Lots of life experience throughout which I have kept a keen sense of humour.