I am ashamed to admit that I had a Tinder profile for almost a full week. Tinder, for those who don’t know, is a match-making app you can download to your phone that allows you to view all kinds of interesting people. I thought it would be a much needed pre-Valentine’s Day self esteem boost that could result in some cool dates, but it turned out to be a pit of awkward desperation. But, in a school like Emerson where people are so closely connected that you have to run into a rejected date nearly everywhere you go, online dating can be a viable option, if done correctly.
If you are just looking for a one night stand with a person who could potentially be a serial killer, I’d recommend Tinder. You get no information about a person except for a series of photos and a Twitter-like bio that most people don’t even fill out. If you’re actually looking for casual sex, Tinder isn’t so bad if you do it well. There are options that let you see if you have mutual friends and shared interests, and a couple of conversations can weed out the real crazies. Just don’t expect your long-term, meaningful relationship to come from Tinder unless you are willing to go through a lot of trial and error. I have never tried Grindr, but I hear it works a lot like Tinder but is geared towards people looking for same-sex hookups. According to my roommate, the same rules apply.
OKCupid is better for people interested in actual dating, but is still pretty mediocre. The bio sections give us a little bit of hope that it is less superficial, but people don’t actually read the bios unless they are coming up with something witty to say in a first message about a shared interest. Getting just the right “About Me” and following sections can be tricky. The key to not coming off as a weirdo is to not take yourself or your online dating profile too seriously. Throw in some goofy things that show your potential date that you’re normal and quirky and that they don’t need to be afraid of you.
Also, remember to use our digital world to your advantage in other ways. This may be a controversial stance, but I think it is completely acceptable to ask out a person you’ve met and liked briefly through Facebook. Trying to “conveniently” run into a person can be unnecessarily complicated. Sending them a “would you like to get coffee” message allows you the freedom to ask them out without having to stalk their favorite locations hoping they will be there.
Asking someone out via text or Facebook can also make it easier for people who are typically more shy to get their feelings out when they find themselves chickening out in person. Facebook has helped launch several of my relationships and doesn’t seem to come across as intrusive.
Before you hop online, remember that one benefit to being a college student, especially a college student in Boston, is that it is a lot more socially acceptable to meet and flirt with people in our age group. It is expected and in many ways encouraged. I love a solid online date, but I have felt a lot more comfortable going out with people I’ve met in person initially, rather than chatting online.
If you do decide to go the online dating route, remember:
• Check your spelling. Nothing says “I don’t actually care about you” like typos in introductory messages.
• Be clever or funny. Taking the app or site too seriously can make you come across as creepy, and no one likes a creeper.
• Don’t post revealing photos or topless muscles shots. You’ll get significantly creepier messages and you’ll have nothing to surprise your date with later.
• If you are looking to actually meet someone, be yourself. It is easy to keep up a fake persona online, but in person it can quickly fall apart.