Tinder serves different purposes for different people. Some people genuinely use it for dating. Some people use it as “the hookup app.” Some people just really want to meet new people. Some people use it as a game, like “How many matches can I get in an hour?” And some people use it as a fun way to pass the time while in line at Chipotle, because you can find some hilarious stuff on Tinder.

But even when people proclaim to join Tinder just for the laughs, time and time again we see that it’s all too easy to get sucked into the Tinder vortex and struggle to find our way out. At the end of the day, this is a problem. Using Tinder is definitely not helping the single ladies (and gents) out there — even the people who are only interested in hookups.

 

You see, Tinder is the epitome of everything we do wrong when it comes to the nature of attraction. You have a meager section to describe yourself (which many people don’t even use) and you can upload 1-5 pictures. Beyond that, Tinder will show you which “liked” pages on Facebook you and the person have in common, and if you have any mutual friends. That’s a recipe for success, right? Knowing that myself and a random guy both liked a page called “No One Likes A Boring Texter” — probably when we were both in 9th grade — says so much about our potential compatibility or attraction to one other, right?

When we use Tinder we’re reducing ourselves to make snap judgements solely based on someone’s perceived attractiveness. We don’t take into account their personality, their quirks, their ambition, or their lack thereof. We simply browse through a couple of their pictures and decide whether to swipe left or right. Does anyone else see the problem with this?

First off, we’re using an unabashedly superficial means to determine our potential interest in this person. They could look like a “nine” in all their photos, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the personality of a “two.” If you knew that person hated dogs, was a total airhead, and/or listened to Rebecca Black on repeat, would you still be attracted to them? Or, on the other hand, someone might not be conventionally attractive, but they could be a total sweetheart that shares your love for guacamole and watching the Discovery Channel.

 

It’s all too easy to write off potentially amazing guys just because you don’t look at them and see an Abercrombie model. Tinder spoils us and allows us to “forget” that attraction isn’t always instant and sometimes it needs some time to grow. And even more than that, compatibility shouldn’t be based solely on attractiveness anyways. Personality is a big deal, and it’s something that isn’t always  accurately conveyed by a stranger over the course of a few playful messages. Someone’s online persona could be extremely different than their actual thoughts and behavior.

Additionally, people try and put their best photos up. In some cases, these will be old photos or heavily made-up/edited/otherwise enhanced pictures. This might not reflect how the person looks 364 days out of the year, but they do a mighty fine job representing that one day where the universe (or Photoshop) was really in their favor.

Lastly, a lot of people will swipe right on everybody on Tinder. Yes, every single profile they come across. This is largely because Tinder is a numbers game and — particularly for those just looking to hookup or for an ego boost — the more people that someone swipes, the higher probability and frequency of receiving matches. (That’s my statistics class coming in handy, y’all.) So essentially, sometimes you’re receiving matches who didn’t even find you attractive – you’re just one of hundreds of people on their match list to (potentially) hit up one day.

Some people will say that Tinder is worsening hookup culture, but let’s not take it that far. Hookup culture has always existed, it just wasn’t something that people could talk about as freely as we can today. I don’t think Tinder is creating more hookups, but I do think it’s creating lazy hookups. When it’s so easy to swipe on your phone, send a couple messages, and then spark an interest with someone,  the whole dynamic of interpersonal interaction changes. We lose the beauty of body language, eye contact, and testing chemistry face-to-face. We lose that slow build of attraction that makes dating so exciting in the first place and just skip straight to mediocre messages and hoping the person doesn’t end up being a creeper if we meet up with them.

All this adds up to hour after hour on the phone and disconnected from our surroundings. While all this is happening and we’re Tindering away, we’re missing what’s going on around us in real time. That hottie on the subway reading a book? That adorable guy that looks out of place at the bar? Yeah, you can’t connect with them if you’re swiping away on your phone.

So if you’re down for a challenge, force yourself to detox from Tinder and stop allowing strangers to validate your self-worth. We’re perpetuating a culture where social media and technology provides us with a network of strangers to boost — or lower — your self-esteem. Why do you let your confidence rely on total randos who you may never meet?

It’s time to take charge of your flirting, hookup, and/or dating game and put things back in your own hands — and I’m not talking about by tapping your phone and opening the Tinder app. Get out, meet people, and make genuine connections. Skip the awkward introductions, ambiguous messages that you’re bound to overanalyze, and last but not least: avoid the risks of meeting up with a creeper. Because last time I checked, Tinder didn’t offer background checks.…