tinder in ithaca
By MO RAHMAN
I’m not opposed to hookup culture; in fact, if you’ve got a good grasp on safe sex, I say go for it. But I only say this because hookups are rampant on a college campus, and it’s really more so something I’ve gotten used to and accepted than something I’ve actively wished for. So imagine my surprise when Tinder suddenly became the prevalent mobile platform for “meeting” people at or outside of Cornell — air quotes to signify that meeting is not where it ends, if you’re lucky. Did we really need that? If you’ve been living under the cavernous seclusion of the Olin stacks for the last two years or so, Tinder is an app that connects to your Facebook profile. You can swipe right or left — yes or no, respectively — and if the potent gods of Tinder find two people who have an inevitable attraction to each other (two swipes right), there’s a match! What could go wrong?
There’s always a caveat, or a few, or a lot when it comes to the Tinder game. How do I know? Well, I’ve joined, of course. I’ve been on Tinder for approximately seven months, and it’s been nothing but a whirlwind, really. While I’ve spent a large portion of that time meticulously trolling poor, unsuspecting perverts, I’ve got a few noteworthy anecdotes that may provide some kind of epiphany about Tinder. Or it may not. Just stay with me.
I’ve only been on two Tinder “dates” — let’s use that term loosely. The thing with the first guy was pure serendipity. He didn’t go to Cornell or IC, nor did he even live in this town. We opened by teasing each other and somehow along the way, we realized how compatible our humor was and consequently, how compatible we were. I resisted. I went through a Kübler-Ross type of thing and finally landed on acceptance; he convinced me to go on a date.
First things first, I was not about to get murdered. Not knowing the protocol for a Tinder date, I decided to go as safe as I possibly could, with the slightest hint of romance (sigh, life of a Millennial): midday at Stella’s. My rule was that he had to leave before midnight because sex was not going to be part of this already skewed equation. I had not anticipated our little rendezvous to actually last until midnight. It did.
No, we did not start dating. The reasons were many-fold, ranging from the kind of relationship we were each looking for to the weirdness surrounding how we met. I consider this a Tinder success nonetheless. Romantically, Tinder failed me, sure. But I found a friend, which is more than I anticipate even from face-to-face encounters. No comments on my social anxiety, please and thank you.
My second date, though equally friendly and compatible, was someone who was not looking for anything on Tinder. He liked the way I came across in my profile and in conversation and, consequently, wanted to meet me. It seemed we were both looking for the same thing: a story. We had a great time but neither of us chose to take it any further, so that was the end of it. I’ve recently deleted my Tinder profile, so any means of contact between us has ceased to exist. Womp. Don’t worry; I’m not a pool of emotions. I mean, I enjoyed the couple of hours we had from the nervous intro to the awkward cessation — i.e. he asked to drive me home, I made a murder joke and then hopped on a bus. It was still a great couple of hours.
These are not the stories that define my Tinder experience. In fact, there’s so much more that I’ve experienced, mostly tied to the concept of discomfort. This generalized feeling is really something that’s existed within the realm of Ithaca, at least for me. If you take a look back at my (truly motivating) anecdotes, you’ll come to the sudden realization that my two best experiences were outta town townies — and yes, Cornellians, townies exist outside the realm of the 14850. Now, that’s actually a pretty good overarching theme, she says, allowing readers to know that she planned nothing whilst initiating the writing process. Tinder in Ithaca has been a creepy experience, to say the least. I’ve run across government officials, frat boys telling me to sit on their faces (“SOMF” — when did that become a thing?), and college alums who’d booty call me after leaving the bars and realize that they had peaked years ago and that those glory days weren’t comin’ back the easy way. That’s not the end of it; the list is extensive.
A couple of months ago on a trip to Montreal, I realized that the discomfort, though in part due to the whole “I’m on a hypersexualized phone app” thing, is mostly seated in Ithaca. I had one Montrealer (yep, that is what they are called — I Googled it) message me as I was driving back home asking how I could possibly be 400 miles away, and then proceed to chat with me anyway until I deleted my profile. We chatted for weeks. A long distance extravagant courtship with a French Canadian — sure, I’ll sign up.
Tinder out of Ithaca was different than I anticipated and I suppose that’s the big takeaway from this experience. I certainly did not find love nor did I have any sort of existential revelation, but when I set my geographical boundaries a little farther than the scope of this little college town, Tinder wasn’t too bad. So hey, maybe give it a try.