Tag Archives: Tinder

Covid-19 Blues: Was It Love or Lust?

Based on a true story…

After a really long time, I fell in love with my mirror. When I stood in front of it yesterday in my black top, I saw a radiant and gorgeous girl. Yes, a girl; a mixture of sweet and saucy, and not a woman. That’s how I would like to describe myself these days. But I guess my girlishness bloomed after the first lockdown was announced in March of last year. 

Soon after its announcement, the guy living in the next-door flat fled to another place, leaving the entire balcony to me, prancing amidst my aloe vera plant growing out from a large pot in profusion. As my neighbors grew tired of being locked up in rooms, they slowly started coming out in balconies. Some of them waved, greeted, and smiled for the first time. Among these were a few that I had never set my eyes on before. Covid-19 was finally bringing the community together in an unexpected way. 

I spotted a guy with a beard practicing arm exercises one late afternoon on the balcony, sometime in April, while I was watering my plants. His was the flat next to the one opposite mine; he waved and smiled. I waved back. A few days later more waving and more smiling followed and we tried to communicate using signs from our respective balconies.

After this, meetings took place regularly on the road running along the backside of my flat inside my Delhi colony. It is a beautiful spot for late afternoon walks in the summer, lined with tall trees on both sides. I had spent many moments on my own musing on its beauty and humming to myself “I walk a lonely road”. On this road, I walked listening to music on my phone while he paced up and down in his gym vest. At times, we would stop and exchange a few pleasantries. 

I thanked my stars for sending me this new diversion during such a difficult time. I dreaded calling my mum for she always fretted and worried. On top of this, too much work burden made me morose at times.

One night after 10 pm, he suddenly called me and demanded to meet at the same spot. It was a silent and dark night with silence weighing heavily all around. The oppressive April heat made my face mask cling to my sweaty face. Not the best romantic situation, but still it couldn’t be helped. We started sauntering and he described his experiences at the hospital (he was a trainee doctor) and I remarked on his bravery. The guy, then, suddenly knelt down on the road and I kind of blushed. His next words were so ridiculous that I burst out laughing. “Will you accept my jujubes? I had kept them in the fridge and thought of gifting you today.”

Before I could say something, the night security guard came running and dispersed us, saying the new rule demands people should not come of their homes late at night in view of the pandemic. I did not accept the jujubes and we ran to our places with the guard at our heels.

Reflecting on the incident later, I felt that my vanity was hurt. He wanted me to accept his jujubes after all and not him. What an immature boy he must be, I decided, and sort of cooled off towards him. Phone calls and balcony meetings became less frequent.

Around this time, a writer entered my life via social media, and that’s pretty common these days, isn’t it? I have always been partial towards poets and writers, and to top it all, this man was super hot. The man-boy doctor soon faded away. Perhaps his biggest fault was he never once complimented me. On the other hand, the writer called me wild and sexy. Needless to say, I was blooming under his compliments. 

Soon I discovered my naughty side. I started flooding his phone with my glam pictures wearing makeup and clicked in low light. The lockdown made me experimental and bolder with my clicks. Soon love talks followed, romantic chats filled up my FB messenger, and the doctor guy permanently exited from life. He called a few times but I kind of avoided talking. One fine day in November last year, I discovered the doctor was gone from the neighborhood. I also realized I hadn’t even saved his number. He was sweet and innocent and brought in his wake a taste of budding childhood romance. My girlish side misses him at times. 

Ironically, I haven’t met the writer guy yet and don’t think a meeting is likely in the near future. He is too mature and aloof, but he brought out my wilder side. Come to think of it now, both were good short-time romances or whatever you call it and helped brighten up the stressful Covid-19 period. I am too much into myself these days to bother trying to put things into place anymore. I have put away my heart in a locker where it will remain, Covid-19 or no Covid-19. 

Deepanwita Gita Niyogi is a Delhi-based freelance journalist.

Featured Image shot in Hyderabad by Deepanwita Gita Niyogi.

Tinder Has Changed the Mating Game

Go into any bar in New York City or San Francisco (or, increasingly, Mumbai and Delhi) popular with the younger crowd and you will find a curious transformation. The majority of the patrons spend at least as much time checking their phones as they do checking out potential mates, or talking to people they are with.

Why? They are on Tinder. The wildly popular dating app has changed the mating game, in ways that are toxic. A growing body of research associates Tinder use with less romantic satisfaction, less happiness and even diminished sense of self-worth — particularly among men.

Let’s be clear: online dating isn’t itself bad. This new way of finding mates has broken down plenty of barriers. We can now meet people from different parts of the country, from diverse social groups. Websites such as Shaadi.com and BharatMatrimony.com are good at doing what marriage brokers and classified ads have long done.

But Tinder brings a fundamental change to online dating. In the past, online dating was an intentional act. People logged on to a dating website to look for partners. The website was separate from other online activity and wasn’t just focused on inducing addictive behaviour.

Tinder used swiping and other clever user-interface tricks that foster the actions of rating, comparing and selecting potential mates. This made dating an omnipresent activity — swipe left, swipe right — that Tinder users could play in bars, in elevators, on the subway. Tinder’s innovation made online dating more addictive and comparative in an unhealthy way.

The effects of dating apps on happiness are complex. On the one hand, online dating exposes people to a far wider set of options and allows filtering by criteria of the user’s choosing.

On the other hand, the paradox of choice affects many by making a decision difficult. And when they do make a decision, they can be less happy with it — possibly because that style of online dating promotes a mentality that views people and relationships as commodities to shop for.

Find Me a Find

Tinder promotes a winner-take-all effect, wherein everyone seeks the most attractive people. This eliminates selection of mates by other variables that may be more predictive of compatibility, leading to frustration all around.

Evaluating choices side by side tends to encourage daters to emphasise factors and characteristics that are unlikely to determine compatibility. Whether someone is fairer or taller, is highly unlikely to reflect compatibility over time. Far less so than more innate traits such as empathy, intelligence or humour.

Particularly useless are superficial physical traits that tend to be overemphasised due to reliance on photos as the primary basis upon which to choose a date. Psychologists have long known that humans are bad at predicting compatibility.

Tinder makes that bad prediction far more common, and replaces other modes of interaction that might lead us to better matches. Scientists are coming to believe that physical attraction is not fixed.

We change what we think about people’s attractiveness based on our interaction with them. Funny, clever or extremely empathetic people may become more attractive to us after we talk or spend time with them.

Kansas University researchers documented this effect, calling it the ‘Tinder trap’. In a lab setting, they showed subjects pictures of potential mates and asked them to rate their attractiveness.

The researchers then introduced some of the subjects to the people they had rated face to face. The scientists found that potential partners they had rated as less attractive or moderately attractive were far more likely to get increased ratings after a face-to-face meeting than were potential partners they had rated as attractive.

So, evaluating a potential partner solely on visual attractiveness is a poor predictor of what you will think of that person once you meet in real life.

Perhaps, most importantly, rating people’s attractiveness prior to meeting them tends to diminish the rater’s evaluation of that person afterward, “probably because the rater is comparing their conversation partner to all the other potential partners they saw online”.

In other words, the apparently endless choice that online dating offers may cheapen and undermine our perceptions of people in real life.

Some online-dating applications have been linked with low self-esteem. In a survey of Tinder users and non-users, those who used the swiping app recorded lower levels of self-worth and, along with other negative impressions, said that they were less satisfied with their own face’s appearance. Curiously, this effect was stronger in male users.

Catch Me a Catch

In our new book, Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain — and How to Fight Back, Alex Salkever and I look at how some technologies are actually diminishing our well-being.

Tinder is one of the most troubling developments we have seen, but it is in a long line of efforts by tech companies to addict users using techniques perfected in Las Vegas casinos and fine-tuned by armies of scientists and user experience experts in Silicon Valley.

The fact is that the tech industry is working overtime to steal our happiness, and we must wrestle it back.

This article has been reprinted here with the permission of the author.