Tinder is over. The app itself appears to be alive and well—as in, it’s still functioning—but Tinder as a cultural moment has faded. It was once everywhere and now it’s practically gone, trashed to death and credited with all manner of social ills from the rise of ghosting, also known as the semi-socially acceptable way of ignoring someone to communicate romantic disinterest, to an all-out decline of basic human decency in the dating landscape.
This isn’t news; Tinder is mostly awful. For women, it’s even worse. A casual late-night swipe could end with an inbox full of unwanted dick pics or abusive messages. Not a chill sitch.
Consequently, more and more young people are foregoing the swipe in favor of exclusive dating apps and services designed to filter out casual ghosters, creeps and dick-pic senders. Invitation-only sites like Raya and The League offer exclusive experiences for users who’ve been vetted by a high number of Instagram followers and social connections, something I wouldn’t know about because I am precisely the type of person The League is trying to keep out.
There’s also Hinge and Bumble, which make connections between mutual friends and have less of a hookup vibe. Ultra niche-interest apps like Feeld (formerly 3nder) might help coordinate threeways or a variety of other super-specific sex encounters, but niche apps haven’t taken off as expected.
Sex with strangers from the internet just isn’t fun anymore.
And so, for most of us non-famous degenerates like myself, we’re left with Tinder. If you’ve ever felt the odds might be stacked against you, it’s because they are stacked against you—especially if you’re a straight guy, because a lot of straight men on Tinder have been the worst kind of perpetrators when it comes to online harassment. (Straight men on dating apps: please collect your people.)
Personally, dating apps are exhausting, frustrating and inevitably always leave me feeling as if no one will ever make me feel as happy as binge-eating Girl Scout cookies alone on my bed makes me feel. Understandably, a lot of people can’t be bothered to actually meet up with matches either. Sex with strangers from the internet just isn’t fun anymore.
Still, there’s nothing like the old Tinder ego boost to remind me I’ve still got it. Truth: anyone who claims they’re not on Tinder for at least some validation is a liar. If you’re actively on Tinder at this stage in the game for other reasons, you’re probably playing yourself. And as someone who plays themselves on the regular, and with a variety self-destructive choices and ill-conceived plans, I am not one to judge.
Meeting people organically and meet-cutes are urban legends, and sometimes you need that dick delivered to your door ASAP. So when I do indulge, it’s usually when Mommy’s had some pinot greej and a couple puffs of the devil’s lettuce. (I’m Mommy.) It is during those trying times that Tindering under the influence can be a pleasure and a delight, because if you’re going to stare into the void, you may as well enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Meeting up with someone under the influence is a bad idea, so don’t do that. Alcohol and drugs don’t mix with consent. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about what comes before; that is, messaging people under the influence.
For a lot of my friends, Tindering under the influence has proven to be an inevitable part of online dating.
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, having a couple of drinks can decrease negative emotions, increase empathy and generosity and make it easier to trust those around us. In moderation, alcohol can make you a nicer person on- or offline. Most people tend to get extra friendly after a couple of bevs at a bar, and the same principle applies online. Just like in real life, online interactions with prospective cuties can be enough to induce a full-blown panic attack, so having a drink, a pill or a puff of your preferred substance is probably normal and fine (unless of course you’re sober or know you shouldn’t partake, in which case, don’t start now.)
Messaging people on Tinder while drunk or high is generally frowned upon. But I frown upon it being frowned upon, because I’d probably need to be drunk or high to be on Tinder, if only to keep from losing my goddamn mind from social anxiety or pure existential despair. Dating apps aren’t the most hospitable places for a friendly neighborhood bisexual like me. I spend a lot of time dodging threeway requests and trying to figure out if the cute girl I’ve been talking to is interested in me as a friend or as a lover. As I said above, 99.99 percent of the time I’d much rather have sex with myself than engage in digital human interaction, but for a lot of my friends, Tindering under the influence has proven to be an inevitable part of online dating. There’s even a drinking game based on it.
“I am definitely more likely to Tinder when drunk. And it’s the only time I message first,” my friend Sam tells me. She’s a queer woman living in New York City who says trying to meet other queer women at bars can be a challenge, but she does have a drunk Tinder success story. “I got all this confidence from matching with people that I then got up and started making friends in the bar […] Pretty soon people were coming over from everywhere and we made like, 10 friends.” Another friend, a comedian in Los Angeles (with whom I sometimes have sex), says he’s “exclusively inebriated” on Tinder. “It’s a lot easier to say things,” he says.
If you’re safe in your living room, partaking in the greej or the ganj can make for a much more pleasant Tinder exchange—yes, way more pleasant than swiping on the toilet. People have always used alcohol and other substances as a way of making social exchanges less awkward, and Tinder is no different. Sure, the app sucks, but you’re already here so you may as well enjoy it. If I’m going to spend an evening lining up my next dick appointment, I would like a glass of wine. Dick pairs well with pinot.