“We can say we met on Christian Mingle.” “Swipe Right for a Pony.” “Deep Thoughts.”
These are actual Tinder bios of people my friends have been matched with at Lehigh. And the more ridiculous the bio or pickup line, the more my friends giggle and judge. Yet they still swipe right. For anyone like myself, who is not on Tinder, “swipe right” is apparently a good thing and means you would consider being matched with said person.
I came from an all-girl high school in New Jersey, where my friends were slightly different than the usual Lehigh student. Always a source of interesting stories to tell my college friends, one story about my best friend always leaves my college friends with a mix of irrational jealousy and creepiness.
In an age when romance is supposedly dead, my best friend was dating a young man she knew through family and mutual friends. That is not the weird part of this story. The boy she was dating was an English lord. He lived in a castle, attended Oxford, wrote her poetry and did all the old-time romantic things that I, as the cynic that I am, felt were overly clingy and weird for what was, at the time, a relationship between a high school senior girl and a college sophomore boy.
After we graduated high school, she was visiting him at his family’s home in England when she decided she wanted to be single for the start of her college career and broke up with him. He was obviously hurt, but didn’t react much, according to her — until the next day. The boy ran through the airport to catch her at the security gate and handed her a 12-page handwritten note professing his eternal love for her, but also saying that he wanted her to be free because he loved her enough to want her to be happy and have the full American college experience. In a gesture of passion that my cynical friends and I have mocked her for the last three years shines through a message: Maybe it isn’t that love and romance are dead, but that the modern woman crushes any such gestures as categorically creepy or clingy.
In an age where Tinder and a college hookup culture thrives, I have to ask myself why my friends and I found the infamous letter so much more creepy and socially unacceptable than finding a date with a bad app. Being in a happy relationship, I do admit I find the awful pickup lines used on my friends extremely hysterical, but I can’t help but feel bad for them and the fact that they have to deal with all the creepy random guys.
When your only options in college seem to be to find a boy in a crowded fraternity basement or use an app on your phone, it seems that we are eliminating the last forms of human contact. It’s bad enough that we would rather text than call our friends, but to try and find love with a swipe seems to have totally killed human interaction.
I used to think those Match.com commercials were the low point of relationships, listening to a montage of single people listing friends and family members that met their significant others on Match. While I am not naive enough to think that Tinder is anything more than a hookup app, I still look at sites similar to Match and cringe. I know that sounds awful because who am I to judge anyone for those sites? Who am I to stand in the way of the potential real connection?
Yet I feel these apps and sites represent a breakdown of human interaction, of general human connection. What happened to dates? What happened to romance? When did we all become so cynical that a guy handing us a beer in a fraternity basement is a greater gesture than flowers? Am I just old-fashioned or clueless of what I should be excepting for others and myself on this campus?
I am not blaming men for this downfall, nor am I blaming other women. I think we have taken what was a great feminist awakening had by our parents’ generation and deteriorated it into cheap hookups. It’s not that we still don’t want relationships. Most of my friends on campus are in relationships, as am I, and I watch as my single friends who claim to want the single life struggle and sob when a boy won’t text them back.
But I believe that is the problem: We want to believe we have evolved into this more accepting society where all we need is Tinder, but we haven’t. Deep down, we still want the romance, even if we publicly mock it. We still want to go on dates and lie around all day watching movies with someone else. We have just become so cynical that we look at these grand gestures by the last remaining romantics and cringe.
Because the truth is: We all want romance; we all want love; we all secretly want a handwritten letter in an airport.