Get ready for the world to know exactly how you present yourself
In an update to the app released just this morning, Tinder has now incorporated the ability to share another person’s profile via an array of social media and messaging channels, including (but not limited to!) text message, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Gmail, Slack, Evernote and … LinkedIn — my favorite platform for vetting dates.
While some might find it flattering to have their Tinder profiles saved to the Evernote cloud for eternity—or actively shared amongst some strange group of friends — to some of us, the not-so-perfect, not-so-self-promotional ones, this feature is abhorrent, terrifying and (just a guess) likely to cause users to flee the app.
The underlying social contract between Tinder users has always been that it was a safe space for them to flaunt themselves to potential mates, while making silent judgments as to whether they want to date each person who swipes by. We felt comfortable doing this because the app felt somewhat private. While Tinder required we sign in with our Facebook accounts, it always lacked the inherent share-ability and accessibility of Facebook and Twitter. All of our (often embarrassing) pre-mating interactions occurred within the app — hidden from the outside world. Unless you took a screenshot, profile photos were not inherently shareable. (And doing so meant revealing that, yes, you were also on Tinder, online dating’s version of mutually-assured destruction.) Tinder was self-contained, and we entered Tinder with the understanding it was The Place For Flirting and felt comfortable acting accordingly.
But no longer, my friends (and prospective girlfriends). Now someone in your immediate vicinity can come across your profile and seamlessly share it to his best bros GroupMe thread, where your stylized selfies and basic interests (“I love to travel!”) can be ritualistically mocked. You could become the butt of some crew’s inside joke and never know it happened. Fact: Right now, there’s a Slack channel snickering about your haircut and mistaking your sarcasm for earnestness (or vice versa). (Author’s note: This is not a fact.)
Granted, Tinder-shaming is a not a new phenomenon. There’s a rich history of Tinder users taking screenshots of especially egregious profiles or messages and shaming the perpetrators, publicly, on social media. But this mocking was typically reserved for those who didn’t abide by Tinder’s unspoken rules of decorum — for men who used Tinder to harass, slut shame or outright threaten women. (And dudes who posted shirtless gym selfies.)
Even then, Tinder users often spared the guilty party’s identity by blurring out his face and/or name. Now Tinder is not only condoning, but encouraging, Tinder users to share strangers’ identities with the outside internet.
And I will not take this lying down.
Actually, I will: The anxiety has already rendered me a sniveling mess.
There is a certain amount of privacy surrendered when you sign up for any free online service, sure, but Tinder is centered around dating and (for some) sex — two topics that involve an unavoidable amount of awkwardness and vulnerability. The potential for shame is magnitudes higher than, say, outing someone as having a low Uber rating.
I don’t want some stranger’s Facebook friends or colleagues to know how I present myself on Tinder. They are innately different platforms, and I choose to represent myself according to the unique characteristics of each—just like most of us do. By adding this share feature, you’re entangling the two in a potential dangerous fashion.
I beg of you, Tinder, for both our good and your own, get rid of the new share feature and save us the added shame. And while I don’t have immediate plans to stop using the service, that will surely change if my profile somehow leaks to Twitter. Until then, I will be deleting all my shirtless gym selfies.
Update No. 1 (March 2): As of this afternoon, the share button Tinder momentarily added this morning has been removed. We’ve asked Tinder for comment and are awaiting a reply.
Update No. 2 (March 5): Tinder has since confirmed that it’s testing a profile share button.
John McDermott is a staff writer at MEL, where he recently wrote about using a “brain-sensing headband” to help him meditate.