This article first appeared in The Oxford Student on 16 October 2015.
If, like me, you’re a devastatingly charming Casanova of the Oxford dating scene, you are sure to have encountered the popular dating app Tinder. For those ignorant, Tinder is essentially a standard dating website crossed with a game of Snap, as you are presented with a series of photos of potential suitors, and invited to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ them as you see fit. When two parties have both ‘liked’ each other, they are deposited in a chat room to awkwardly flirt, sext or make arrangements for dates, which then, if all goes well, will lead to a sex, a relationship, everlasting love, etcetera, etcetera. It’s a useful and innovative service, but it has a few quirks which can lead to some awkward situations, from an etiquette point of view.
Firstly, the chat is set up in such a way that conversations which would normally take only a minute or two in the real world instead take a matter of days, with chats becoming so excruciatingly stretched out that one wonders whether one wouldn’t have an easier time running down the high street naked and hoping to bump into a potential partner before being arrested. In one of my more successful chats, it took a week before both of us knew each other’s full names. This, obviously, is something of an obstacle to healthy, natural conversation, and sets a very strange time frame for your interactions as a whole. You start thinking that the first date will take several weeks, the first kiss at least a month. The advice to take romance slow may be sound for some relationships, but it can go just a bit too far.
The other problem is the spam bots. You know how it is- someone looks like just the person for you, you start a conversation, they do the classic chat-up line: ‘Hello, I am looking for an unforgettable time with strangers who are very skilled and intimate in bed? Maybe we can meet up and see if we’re compatible and have a naughty time? Meet he here [Dodgy-looking link].’ Now, I don’t want to crush anyone’s dreams, but they’re not worth pursuing. They are all terrible conversationalists. I speak from experience.