So the first time I paid any attention to Tinder was as a result of ‘amebo’. A friend had met a guy there, who she later found out was engaged (and is now married). Prior to that, I equated Tinder on the same level as personal ads on Craigslist, like a creepy hook-up tool.
Even more surprising to me was the fact that there were active Tinder users in Nigeria, I was honestly shocked at that. Call it naïveté , but I never in a million years thought Nigerians would go for online dating…in any form.
While listening to my friend curse the engaged guy she had met on Tinder, I formed one opinion about it, definitely not for me.
Fast forward a few months later, was having lunch with another friend of mine, and as is wont to happen (wherever two or more girls are gathered, the topic is more often than not, the opposite sex) the conversation turned to relationships or lack thereof. She regaled me with gist abut a guy she’d been dating for about four months and to my surprise said she’d met him on Tinder.
I was agog.
“So you mean there are actually normal people on Tinder, like not mentally disturbed men who work at Zenith Bank during the day and dismember bodies at night.”
Obviously I had to see for myself and we decided to set up a profile for me. So how Tinder works is that its basically a smartphone app that works by finding your location using GPS, then it uses your Facebook information to create a profile with your first name, age and photos of choice, before matching you with other users in the vicinity. You swipe through their pictures, and swipe right if you find their photo and profile attractive and left if you don’t. You can also restrict your pool of contenders based on age, sex and location. Pretty simple.
First off I was titillated by the number of people I knew personally that I could see, I kept going “Oh my God thats so and so”. Then I actually realized that I wasn’t just seeing a bunch of pervy degenerates which I’d imagined Tinder must be chock-a-block with. The people (well some of them) seemed…normal. A few were downright cool even, and came off as witty and intelligent and all that good stuff.
My friend actually said she’d been using Tinder for a year and had kissed quite a few frogs till she found her current prince. She made it seem so normal, they’d match, exchange info if they wanted to take it further, meet up for dates and take it from there. I was just like “in this Lagos!”.
In a busy city like Lagos, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that meeting people can be hellish and I definitely understand how a tool like Tinder can make that much easier, but I was also worried that Nigeria being the kind of society that evaluates female character based on sexual virtue, it could very well be abused by the people it seeks to help. I was worried that girls on it might be thought of as desperate, or up for anything (which some might be, nothing wrong with that), but I felt like girls who were genuinely on it because they hoped they’d meet the love of their life might get lumped in with the rest of them. Then again, I had a live success story in front of me so it might not be all that bad.
It gives you a chance to put yourself out there: For members of both sexes, physically approaching another person is never easy, most especially for women…almost never done. What Tinder does is it allows you to indicate interest if you see someone interesting by ‘liking’ their profile or swiping right, then the person takes it from there. It also allows you declare your availability.
It gives quite a bit of background info: Tinder is linked to your Facebook profile and Instagram, so the information you’re shown is the persons interests, if you have friends in common, School or work, personal photos etc. So you can actually gauge the level of the people on it and can suss out who has piss poor spelling. You’re basically less likely to get catfished or murdered.
A lot of people on it are honestly looking for love: Prior to joining I thought once you matched with anybody on it you’d have a flurry of nudes flung at you accompanied by pervy one-liners. But a lot of people I met on there seemed surprisingly sincere and sensible and very open about the difficulty of finding The One. Maybe it was a scam, didn’t stick around to find out, but I think its well worth a try.
It’s not solely restricted to the twenty-somethings: The age criteria on Tinder goes from 18 to 55+, so it shows love to older people too.
It’s an opportunity to date outside your race. One of the major things I noticed about Tinder in Nigeria is the plethora of expats on it. Nigeria, with all its multinational companies and opportunities is an expat hotbed and tons of them are on Tinder. I’m guessing its because they’re more accustomed to using it in their home countries and when they come to Nigeria its simply an extension of that, but they are some of the more aggressive and forward groups on Tinder. Again, one has to be careful as some of them might be (and have proven to be) in relationships or married back home and just looking for a bit of fun in Nigeria, so do your homework well. Then again if that’s what you’re interested in…win-win.
I think its a bit superficial: Life is superficial I know, but Tinder sort of has you making snap judgements about people and 9 times out of 10 its based on how attractive or not the person is.
Too much choice: There are literally thousands of choices open to you and as someone who has brain freeze when confronted with American cable television and its 9,000,000 channels, I can’t deal with a smorgasbord of availability like that. Its almost like this one didn’t work, well there are thousands out there for me to hit on, so no effort is made to actually see if you have a connection with someone. Its a very love at first sight community, and if there’s no love…its on to the next.
Now in my own personal experience, I decided to use Tinder for a week to understand it properly and for a minute the overwhelming attention was quite flattering, then it got tedious really quickly. A day after setting up my profile I’d got about 32 Super Likes (a Super Like is a more intense way of saying “I really really like you!”) and 40 something matches…I honestly couldn’t deal. I went along with a few conversations then gave them up as a bad job after a while. I just couldn’t get into the groove of it, it stuck with me as just a slightly off-kilter way of forming an attachment. Plus I couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that whenever I was ‘liked’, I was part of a group herd with the ‘liker’ just waiting to see who’d bite the bait first. Yes I know that also happens in real life with people putting their eggs in numerous baskets, its just a bit more glaring on Tinder.
Verdict on my Tinder social experiment is that I honestly don’t think its a terrible way to meet people, I’ve now read about several who met their Significant Others on it and there have been quite a few marriages as well.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not for me but different strokes and all that.
Even if we think it might not translate in our immediate Nigerian environment, it actually does and very well for that matter. So if you’ve given up on traditional ways of meeting people, give Tinder a try, you never know.
Adaku Abimbola Ufere is an Oil & Gas Lawyer and CEO of DAX Consult; a legal advisory and consulting firm. She is also a fashion journalist and one of the top lifestyle bloggers in Nigeria. She blogs over at http://www.thirdworldprofashional.com.