“You’re the American girl…we matched on Tinder!”
….he shouted in my ear over the sound of the DJ’s bass, clad in a bowtie that didn’t match his ensemble and grinning ear to ear. Landlocked by a girl in braces smoking a cigarette and a guy arguing with his girlfriend, there was no escaping the encounter. I smiled and greeted him with a hug and customary kiss on the cheek.
Maybe it’s because my bio notes my nationality.
Maybe it’s because I’m too tall for my own good ( 5’11…roughly 6’2 in a pair of heels.)
Maybe it’s because, despite residence in a seaside city of more than 150,000 people boasting three major universities (University of Sussex, University of Brighton, and BIMM School of Music) amongst others , the social scene in Brighton can be much, much smaller than it appears. Never mind that I work in the entertainment marketing industry, in relation to the student clubbing scene, which continues to narrow the field.
While it’s hard to pin point the specific origin of these encounters, one thing is for certain:
….living abroad, Tinder is an experience in itself.
For those who may not be familiar, Tinder is an application frequented by millennials, specifically university students and 20-somethings. The app has an estimated 50 million users worldwide. You have the option of “swiping right” in favor of a profile, or “swiping left” in denial. Should you and the future love of your life both “swipe right” and “match” [ note the deep, deep sarcasm….] you have the option of opening conversation. The application allows you to view mutual Facebook friends, and which university the individual attends. Some use Tinder as a joke, others with genuine interest in meeting a significant other. Some, like myself, use the app more or less out of boredom….AKA, while I’m waiting on the train to arrive.
I am simultaneously amused, intrigued, and annoyed by these unwarranted public encounters with Tinder matches. Grocery shopping, ordering a coffee at Starbucks, working a night shift, and out with friends are just a few occasions in which I’ve been, for lack of better term, ambushed by Tinder suitors. I could delete my account and eliminate this all together….but where’s the fun in that?
Let it be known: I make a conscious effort not to view different cultures in a comparative light.
When asked the usual ” How is _____ here compared to the USA?” I put on my politician pants, and purposefully advert the question. While I am proud of my heritage, and adore the country I call home, using American culture as a means for measuring the rest of the developed world’s appeal only perpetuates a sense of off-putting superiority, and creates an atmosphere that can often act as a roadblock in matters of cross-cultural relation. Different cultures each boast a way of life unique to their location. I try to take it as so.
But, in a lighthearted context, I’ll make a rare exception to these personal standards.
British Tinder VS. American Tinder
The good, the bad, and everything in between
American Tinder culture boasts striking contrast to british tinder culture.
In a favorable light, I might add. I recognize, from the perspective of the British, this is a laughable claim. But, in comparison to Tinder culture in the U S of A, England is a forerunner for genuine encounters. Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead using the app on American soil. I logged on once in my time as a university student in the States- solely to check out the what the hype was about- and promptly logged off.
It was a Tuesday Night, and I was ticking away at a piece to submit to some alternative outlets, beyond my personal blog.
I’d reached the section I intended to use to discuss cross-cultural dating. As I contemplated the words and my time in England, I came to a self realization:
I have a “type.”
I say this loosely, but directly in regards to personality.
So, in an effort to broaden my perspective, I did what any mind as sporadic as mine would do.
I agreed to go on a series of random Tinder dates.
I accepted these offers based on character, not appearance, (still savage, but not entirely inhumane) making plans with several seemingly diverse personalities. Some appeared to be right up my alley, while others I probably wouldn’t have considered previously. All candidates were a shot in the dark; literal “Brightonians.”
Call it a social experiment in the spirit of candid, cross cultural communication, if you will. After all, when else in your life can you go on a series of fun, casual first dates….just because? What a time to be alive.
It was the weekend. If they weren’t buying me a drink, someone else in Brighton likely would have finessed these guys for the same. Tomato, Tomatoh.
The only catch? We had to talk for and hour or two. I could have conversation with a rock, if I really had to. It’s both an element related to my cultural identity as an American, and my personality as an individual. So, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between, I felt prepared to handle the outcome of these encounters.
…..I was not prepared.
Amidst some friendly and genuine encounters were a few unexpected ones.
I could highlight the good, but the bad is far more entertaining.
Unexpected lines and awkward moments ensued.
The Dialogue of
BadBlind Tinder Date
ft. genuine lines and unspoken responses
“A Fosters? Really? I could never drink that. I guess I just have expensive taste.”
Forget the courteous move towards the happy hour specials then, next one will be a glass of Dom Perignon…..I hear entry level, post graduate jobs pay very well.
“I’ve told my mom all about you. She likes to hear about this kind of stuff, you know.”
“I had no idea how you were going to sound when you talked, you know, with the accent and all.”
Have a few too many drinks, then try talking through your nose.
There you have it: The American Accent.
“Are your eyelashes real?”
If you have the receipt, it is yours.
“Your hair looked shorter in the pictures.”
“You’re too good to be working for clubs.”
You are never above a learning opportunity, or too good for a job. Boots on the ground, cold-sales training is hardly to be taken for granted. Never mind my co-workers (all university students pursuing degrees, might I add) could sell you a PEN if they really had to…these guys are good. Really, really good.
No free shots for you, sir.
*20 minutes into date*
“So, tell me about your relationship history.”
In a genuine stroke of luck, a member of the football team appeared out of nowhere in this very moment, and sparred me a conversation far too personal for a first date….like an angel in disguise, he rose from the crowd, holding a shot of bacon flavored Smirnoff ( It’s a thing guys!!!!! And tastes as disgusting as you’d imagine it would….) and proceeded to soften this conversational blow. Standing at least a head taller than my date, with a laugh that warms a space, he joked about recent messages in a group chat we were both a part of.
My date was shell-shocked.
It was great.
…..and I never actually answered the question.
“How’s your dog? He’s so cute!”
The golden retriever featured on my Tinder profile is 100% a catfish. I don’t even know his name.
“You really should list your height in your bio, ya know.”
And you really should have eaten your veggies as a kid….but we can’t turn back time, now can we?
My experience using British Tinder, in summary
In my time trolling Tinder, I :
- Answered the question “wherebouts in America are you from?” at least 30 times
- ….and was offered a “tour of Brighton” more times than I can count
- Went on a few terrible dates
- Went on a few decent dates
- Matched with a few friends, and served them a proper roast.
- Had one genuine, worthwhile introduction to a fellow student who, in retrospect, I probably would have rubbed shoulders with eventually….with, or without, the assistance of the app.
- Consistently came across diverse personalities, and English men who all happened to dawn their best pair of skinny jeans for the occasion. A look I’ve not only become accustom to overtime, but arguably have come to favor.
My conclusion is a rather simple one.
I’m not suggesting anything bad comes of Tinder.
….but, I’m not suggesting anything good comes of it, either.
In America and UK alike, there are surely cases where healthy, happy relationships blossom with the swipe of the right.
In the UK, I’d argue this is more likely.
Still unlikely, but slightly less unlikely.xx,