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Dating Apps – a portal to the outside world in lockdown?

More people are using dating apps as a portal to the outside world during lockdown. The BBC reported that user engagement is up for the dating app Tinder and that “Tinder users made 3 billion swipes worldwide on Sunday 29 March.”

Dougal Shaw, reporter for the BBC went on to say, “Platforms like eHarmony, OKCupid and Match have reported a big rise in video dates.” 

It’s no surprise really. We’ve now been locked away in our homes since March 26th and many of us have spent it either completely alone or with one other person, and even if you are a self-proclaimed introvert such as myself, ultimately, it’s nice to chat with other people.

I signed up to Tinder about a week ago on a whim. Whilst the thought of meeting a person in real life brings me out in a cold sweat, the concept of chatting safely in a virtual world seemed much more appealing. In my professional life, I talk about kink and domination all day long, and it’s nice to think there’s a little bubble where topics outside of these arenas can be discussed.

I chose Tinder because if you swipe left on someone this means you aren’t interested in opening a dialogue with and they can’t contact you. The last time I used a dating app was around 6 years ago and it was a sea of sex obsessed pests that didn’t seem to understand the words ‘no thanks.’ Apps like Tinder help to reduce unwanted attention and seemed the obvious choice. I chose a few bland photographs of myself, ensuring that there was no cleavage or excess of leg on display. One photo pictured me sat in a restaurant, another drinking a cuppa, and then two shots of me sat with one of my cats.  

I mentioned being a writer on my bio but otherwise kept it brief. After all I had made the profile to chat, so if a match wants to know anything they can ask.

Selecting possible matches was a lot harder. For someone just looking for a shag it’s probably quite easy, but if you are looking to enjoy some chat and banter with someone easy on the eye it’s a little more complex. This is the point where I exercised my judgement and swiped left (no thanks) on anyone who in my mind looked like they could be a serial killer (closely knit eyes, reptilian stare). I also swiped left on anyone who looked like they loved themselves a bit too much, therefore anyone whose gallery consisted of shots showing off their muscles in the gym were met with a left swipe, as were the guys casually pulling up their tops to reveal their abs. I just can’t see myself having much of a fun conversation with someone who takes themselves that seriously, and I’ve known enough big egos to last me forever! Perhaps you may think me judgemental, but it’s imperative to form some level of criteria, which allows one to feel a little more comfortable with an inhumane experience that consists of swipe left or right to indicate you are prepared to communicate.

At first I got in a bit of a pickle and was probably something reminiscent of your elderly Granma swiping at the screen with a finger, losing pages and getting stuck on pages. After a few mistakes, I managed to swipe right on a few profiles and they all had one thing in common, cheeky grins, twinkly eyes and a relaxed look about them. The adage says you can’t judge a book by its cover, but the eyes are truly the window to the soul, and if I’m going to commit to an online conversation, I want it to be drama free and perhaps my choices reflect that.

Tinder told me based on the handful of right swipes I’d made I had some matches, whom I could view. However, if I wanted to see the 99 plus people who liked me I could pay £27.99 per month for the grand reveal. 99 sounds like quite a lot to me and like a marketing ploy. This brought up a whole host of additional worries and concerns. If there really was 99+ likes/right swipes doesn’t that suggest these are the kind of people who will swipe right on anything, after all I didn’t use particularly great photos. What if a portion of those 99 were ‘swipe-rightable?’ I’d then have the dilemma of potentially having to form conversations with dozens of people! I’m sure I was thoroughly over-analysing but it just sounded far too time consuming and stressful, and so I opted to stay with the basic package.

The first message I received consisted of three splashing water emoji’s. I understood this to mean that he had either pissed himself with excitement, had sprung a leak or had prematurely ejaculated into his pants. No reply was forthcoming from me, besides, I don’t believe that there is an emoji yet for pampers nappies. I suppose I could have given him the benefit of the doubt and sent him the number of a good plumber.

Over the weekend, I made some small talk with a soldier. It was mostly superficial conversation but it was nice to converse with someone polite about topics outside of my industry.  A little further into the conversation, I admitted I had an Onlyfans when it came up, and he said he’d been a member of a few Onlyfans pages in the past, but we agreed to focus on other topics of conversation much to my relief.

Then I neglected the app this week as I’ve been busy with work/life. My phone pinged at regular intervals and I cleared all of Tinder’s marketing notifications on the home screen, which have the soul intention of luring you back with catchy slogan’s super as, ‘You got a super like,’ and ‘Things are getting hot.’

The marketing hype is really no different from the clothing companies that e-mail cutesy headliners like, ‘we miss you babe!’ They want your money and the more time you spend on the site the better for them!  It’s easy to see why traffic to the dating apps have surged during lockdown, with the lure of excitement and the bright shiny marketing that’s even more appealing than what lies within.

By yesterday, I had pretty much forgotten about the app when there was an incident which I found decidedly creepy. I was catching up with my Adultwork e-mails when a new message landed in my inbox from someone called Nate. Opening it I read,

So this is going to sound super weird, but I could have sworn I saw you on tinder? Under xxxxx?
Look, could be completely wrong, so I’m sorry if this out of the blue email comes, well, out of the blue ha. But if you’re on tinder close to me, I’m not going to turn up the opportunity of saying hello 🙂 “

Looking at the profile, there was no information other than the date they had joined, so it was obvious they had made the Adultwork profile just to send me that message. I was a little unnerved to say the least. If they had messaged me on social media, for example Twitter or Facebook to say “Oh I think I just saw you on Tinder!” I wouldn’t have been bothered, but to create a new profile specifically on Adultwork to keep their anonymity just struck me as decidedly creepy. What were they trying to hide? I prefer to keep a divide between my professional and personal life where possible, and I think my profile is an indicator of this. As far as Tinder profiles go, it’s wholesome with no flesh on show. In fact, I probably have racier photos on my Linkedin!

Secondly, this person ‘Nate’ presumably wasn’t a match or they would be messaging via the Tinder system and not making an Adultwork profile to message me. There was an imbalance in this interaction and I was at a definite disadvantage with them knowing who I was, whilst they hid behind a blank persona. It was a boundary push for me and a red flag.

So, I responded with perhaps a modicum of irritation. “Seriously? You made this profile just to ask me that?”

An angry and defensive diatribe landed into my inbox.

“Yes? Christ, I didn’t realize that would be so offensive? Sorry for trying to engage and reach out ?? fucking hell

No idea what the issue is. It was a nice gesture. I knew who you were, it’s just called having some balls and making a move. But I guess common sense isn’t so common. Take care.”

This individual could have shown some character and have accepted that he had made me feel uncomfortable and backed off, or apologised. Instead he chose to react with anger and revealed that he obviously felt entitled to receive attention from me by trying to bypass the Tinder system anonymously, and reacting with hostility.

Apparently, he could not see an issue with what he had done (BIG RED FLAG) and claimed to think it was a nice gesture. However, his very first sentence to me indicated that he knew exactly what he was doing and that it wasn’t appropriate – “So this is going to sound super weird.”

Yes, it did sound super weird and he knew it, although I would prefer to call it 99 shades of Creepy as Fuck personally! I’m a modern female with firm boundaries, who exercises my right to make my own choices, whether or not they offend a self-entitled male. Perhaps 30 years ago, this kind of tactic may have been considered romantic by society, but having witnessed how entitled misogynists are when it comes to something they feel they deserve, this felt as romantic as a boxful of decaying rat carcasses, topped with Pidgeon poop and tied with a red silk ribbon.

In the past, I wouldn’t have wanted to show that something like this would bother me and I would have probably sent back a jokey, “Busted,” potentially opening myself up to further attempts of boundary pushing. In my wisdom as a real grown up now, I realise it’s crucial to point out something that offends you in the first instance and crush attempts at boundary pushing instantly.

This ‘Nate’ had shown their true colours and I decided not to waste any more of my time replying to them. Shortly afterwards, they deleted the Adultwork profile they had made earlier that day, as if to remove any trace of what had taken place.

At first I was tempted to pull my whole Tinder profile down, but I didn’t want to give the intruder the satisfaction of being the root cause. Call me a cynic, but so far, it’s been a bit of a nuisance. It has given me something a little different to blog about though and years ago, I wanted to write a series of dating blogs, but then I met someone in real life and it seemed inappropriate.

Perhaps I’ll keep my profile open for a while to see if it inspires any entertaining, funny or serious blogs. Maybe I’ll even end up having some nice chats online. Most likely I’ll ultimately end up doing what I did last time, which was to pull the profile down without meeting one person, but in the meantime, I’m learning a great deal about mankind. Knowledge is power and I’m learning what I don’t want, don’t need and it’s an ever-expanding list  

There may be a follow up blog or two to this, depending on if any extra-terrestrials decide to engage me in any kind of peculiar conversation. If a match is polite and courteous then there could be some good banter. If they prove to be bothersome, rude or capricious, then they will probably end up on my blog 🙂

I promise I’ll save the best stories for you!

If you do decide to sign up to an app yourself, it’s important to remember these things:

1. Don’t give out your contact details before getting to know someone and feeling comfortable.

2. If they push for details about your location, do not give them any and be vague.

3. Do not post any photos of any places you regularly frequent that can be easily identified.

4. Avoid giving names of places you have been recently or revealing your routine and whereabouts.

5. If asking questions, don’t make them too personal. Nobody likes a nosy bastard!

6. It’s not a race, take your time to chat and don’t badger your matches to meet – this is regardless of whether we are in lockdown or not.

Be safe!

Kaz B

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