Tinder’s goal is to take the element of surprise out of dating. This is precisely why a recent “blind date” (blinder than blind, in fact) was so unexpected — and not in a romantic way.
As the male dater explains, her face, her body: neither of them were anything like what he had signed up for. Blame it on the newest craze of using apps to rearrange your face.
“I’m sorry but I have to ask you: is that you on your pictures?” a male dater says he asked his date that night.
“Of course it’s me,” she replied. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you just look a bit different … in person,” he continued.
“Oh, you mean Bikini?” she admits. “But a lot of people use it — all my girlfriends do, anyways, and other people I know. You really don’t know it? There’s a male version, too.”
Bikini is a beautifying app that “enhances” Tinder — the way cheese goes with wine. Yet instead of complementing a person's profile picture, it alters them beyond recognition. On Apple's App Store, the description tells potential users everything they need to know:
Bikini offers easier correction functions than the photoshop.
Few touches can make your shape like a model!
This summer, take photos without worries.
Bikini will be with you!
But these new apps aren't just for women as many would suspect; men are using them as part of the deception game too.
Receiving likes on social media has been proven to be a strong booster of dopamine and self-esteem, even when our social profiles reflect a tiny, misleading, out-of-context portion of reality’s picture. Should it come as any surprise then the lengths people go to in the pursuit of swipes, even when such swipes are probably as useful as Monopoly money?
Despite the fact one of the most widespread dating tactics in Tinder is “casting a wide net,” (especially among guys), it’s easy to argue swipes feel more personal than social media likes. After all, Tinder doesn’t offer any middle ground. It raises the stakes — hot or not — and rejection stings harder than mere disregard of a normal online post.
Guy Winch, a Ph. D, wrote about the phenomenon in Psychology Today while explaining the mental mechanisms at play.
“We can relive and re-experience social pain more vividly than we can physical pain,” he wrote. “Rejection creates surges of anger and depression … [and] sends us on a mission to seek and destroy our self-esteem.”
Success in Tinder might be more tightly entwined with one’s self-esteem than it appears on the surface. Jessica Strübel, a Ph. D of the University of North Texas, conducted research on just that.
“We found that being actively involved with Tinder, regardless of the user’s gender, was associated with body dissatisfaction, body shame, body monitoring, internalization of societal expectations of beauty, comparing oneself physically to others, and reliance on media for information on appearance and attractiveness,” said Strübel.
The idea of using a beautifying app for getting a swipe doesn’t seem so ridiculous in that context.
When the previously mentioned dater asked his potential bae why she used the app, she told him what Strübel and her team have known all along.
“Well, it’s still me, just a better version of me,” she replied. “Everybody wants to look like their best version.”
On paper, this is a point that’s hard to argue with — and taken out of context, it might even make for a somewhat aspirational message. But within the narrative it appears in, it accurately reflects the nature of today’s change — one that drives us more and more toward digitally-induced lethargy and further away from real life ambitions and goals …
… even for something that’s as personal as dating is meant to be.