Dear friend, it is obvious that in real life you are not cut out for flirting. Why do you insist on continuing the same male-dominated bullshit of “I choose my woman, she cannot choose me” on the internet?
I guess by now everybody knows about Tinder: a flirting application (or is it OK if we call it a dating app?) that you download on your phone and is linked to your Facebook account. It provides you with the candidates who are in your close vicinity. The profiles of the candidates include a couple of photographs and a three to four sentence long biographical information. If you share common interests in Facebook, it shows the pages that both of you liked as well as your common friends. You swipe right the photos of those candidates that you like and left for those that you do not like. If the other person has also swiped right your photo, then a new chat box pops up. From this point onwards, it is all up to you. Good luck to everyone! Tinder has become a generic name like Kleenex. There are many other apps that operate on similar codes.
I must confess that Tinder has also come to occupy an important spot in my life. There are those people who use Tinder but deny it. I will not become one of them. I did it, and I do not regret it –for the most part. But who am I to avoid Tinder? We are living in a world where people do not smile at or say “hi” to each other; and when people do these things, we usually do not reply to their gestures because we are scared of them “being a psycho”. Everything flows so speedily, and everybody is so busy. I mean of course if you buy into their words. People sit in front of the TV or computer screens for ten hours straight. So, what happens then? We all rush into mobile applications.
In my social circles, most of my friends are married. They either bring their children to social occasions or organize dinner get-togethers. How am I going to get to know new people folks? As people rush to collect and get rid of their kids’ dirty diapers, they don’t have or cannot find the time to introduce me to new people. If you say don’t be so dependent on your environment, be a little bit more individual, I have a ready answer to that as well. In the city where I live, everyone greets each other and says “Hello” but it is almost impossible to pass on to the second sentence. I am officially living in the beautiful but artificial city of Seahaven, which is a TV studio, where the Truman Burbank (Jim Carry) character lived in the movie Truman Show. Therefore, I am in no position to turn a deaf ear to Tinder. I also greet those who can and tell them something along the lines of “Was there Oxford in Turkey that we did not go”: “Was it possible to meet people some other way that we did not”.
On the other hand, this does not mean that we close our eyes and fulfill our duties. Of course, we are reflecting on it. As I spend hours thinking about what Tinder is, how to understand it, I realized this: Tinder is actually not so much different from the reality we live in, it is a metareality that takes our reality as a model. It is a structure that distorts reality and thus generates a new one with the intensive combination of many elements of real reality. I will now try to explain what I mean by this complicated definition using several brief examples.
I would like to begin with something which you already don’t know! We are living in a male dominated world. This domination is not only a phenomenon that manifests itself in everyday male oppression, it is also a state that produces the individual at the levels of consciousness and knowledge. Most of us unconsciously make assumptions about how men see and think about us and act accordingly. In the four-book series of Neapolitan Novels authored by Elena Ferrante one of the characters who is an author writes a book exactly about this situation, in other words, on the perpetual production of women by men. Then when reflecting on her own relationship with her partner, she realizes the following: It is not only the lower-classes or uneducated and insecure women who reproduce male domination on their bodies and in their lives. As someone who has taught and wrote about this issue, she is actually willing to see herself through the eyes of the man standing in front of him and to change her appearance, form and attitude in a way to please him. If you are saying that you are not like this at all, good for you. Tinder pushes its users to such an arena where women are reproduced under the domination of men.
What are the women who use Tinder very actively and are liked by many men on Tinder? Tinderella. If you care to google, you will come across many judgmental texts written on this subject. Based on the story that is referenced, women who use Tinder very actively are actually superficial but well-groomed people who try to “cage” the men of their lives. The man who uses this application and meets many people is not stigmatized like this; on the contrary, he is appreciated by his fellow men for “using it for its intended purpose”. On the other hand, the role that is cut for the women is that of Cinderella. Whether virtual or not women should know her place, she should always wear make-up and never stop uttering the sentence “I do not know, my husband knows”. Man reproduces women in the virtual setting exactly in the same way that he imagines women in real life.
Tinder is one of the last links of our neoliberal reality. It is the effect of a system that transforms the individuals into one-dimensional reflections of themselves, renders human beings uniform, makes people feel as if they have a choice and are actually free by juxtaposing very similar options next to each other. This applies to users of both genders. But like many things that neoliberalism imposes on us, Tinder constructs its priorities based on those of men. Therefore, Tinder multiplies our everyday gaze about ourselves which is shaped by the ways in which men see us. For instance, the fact that the image is way more foregrounded than the text, the multiplicity of choices and emphasis on visuality. Whereas in men’s profiles there are photographs of men doing sports or hanging out with friends next to or on motorized vehicles, women are expected to be well-groomed, to look beautiful and pleasing to the eye in order to be attractive. Therefore, one of the introductory sentences that men say to women on Tinder is usually “You are beautiful” or something which means that. Thank you very much dear, indeed, I exist for the pleasure of your eye.
The first time I downloaded and started using this kind of an application I was texting “Hello, how are you, what’s up?” to everyone that I fancied. In time, I realized that although they also fancied me at first (swope right or liked me, anyways, this is the rule of the algorithm of the application) they do not reply to my greetings. I asked someone who is a long-term user and who knows this application inside out. My friend replied saying “Women usually do not say ‘Hello’ here. The guys probably did not reply to your text because they either find you ‘daring’ or ‘hopeless'”. Dear friend, it is obvious that in real life you are not cut for flirting. Why do you insist on continuing the same male-dominated bullshit of “I choose my woman, she cannot choose me” on the internet? Who told you that this bullshit and good-for-nothing method of yours which never worked would bring you success if you insist on repeating it? Why do you believe everything that people say? And, women, why are you playing along? Because of you, I look stupid.
This metareality also sharpens the edges of existing reality. It offers a brief demo of what will happen to us all in a world where a) people do not take the responsibility of their words or deeds b) everyone is dispensable. There seems to be so many options that no one is important enough, and the chances of meeting people face to face (if the conversation did not evolve into a date) is rather low. This state of dispensability is exactly what drives humanity crazy and exasperates me.
We constantly exchanged messages with a man for four or five days. He seemed like a smart and funny human being. He was texting for hours and listening. Of course, you would think that he is a normal person. Then he asked whether I would like to meet on Friday or not. Then he texted me on Friday saying “I found cheap tickets for the weekend. I am flying to another city. See you when I am back.” At least he informed me. He also sent me a couple of text messages during the weekend. And then I asked in the middle of the week about how his holiday was. He played dead. The man who used to write every day for hours all of a sudden stopped replying to a message (we were apparently at that stage) that popped up on his mobile. During those days and in a similar case, a man, who insisted on meeting for days, on the day of the rendezvous texted me and said, “I am very sick, is it OK if we meet sometime later?” Of course. Meanwhile it turned out that we are working in the same place. Two days later I texted him saying “How are you doing? Are you OK?” Playing dead season two.
Keeping in mind the low probability that both of these men died the same week while texting me, them playing dead is an indication of something else. This happens in real time as well but the frequency is much lower since it takes guts to do it to someone whom you know face to face or who is a friend of a friend, etc. Usually people end relationships by saying “We are not cut out for each other”, ” It turns out that I am married” or “I met someone else”… There are no social pressures in metareality, no mutual friends. Therefore, you are left face to face with humans and human condition in all its nakedness. We are working in the same place, my friend, and I know your name and department. You should have been anxious about the possibility of me finding you, of licking the dust. Even better, you impolite man, a person should reply for being a member of humanity.
These guys are assholes, but I am also a bit naive. I kept lingering on the question for many hours: “Where did I go wrong?” Then I recalled what sister Ferrante had written. When I blame myself, then this thinking process reproduces the system that normalizes these men and what they do and speak. And it reproduces me as the producers of this system. I recreate their rules by internalizing them. I try to see myself through their eyes, but there is no such eye, that eye is blind and does not see me anyways.
I mean what we call metareality does not stay outside of our reality. It reshapes our rose smelling (when a bald man dies, they say he had golden hair) reality. Applications such as Tinder exist because the way people look at each other as well as people’s expectations, ways of living and relating have changed. But on the other hand, because of Tinder and other similar applications, people began to treat each other they met in real life just like they treat people with whom they chat on Tinder. You were not able to impress me in three sentences, next! Because I am the one who should be impressed, and you are the one who should impress me; because I am so different, so special, so unique. Look, I always have many interesting photos, photos taken when I am doing sports, on my profile.
Tinder takes real-life male domination and throws it back at us in a raw way. Men’s crudeness and rawness which were previously hidden because of social anxieties are put in front of us in all their nakedness. So, what did I learn from all this or what do I expect to learn? Well, I will either learn how to fight (both in real life and in the metareality) or I have participated in the premier screening of all that will happen to us. For now, I am going through the observation and analysis phase. After all we are all Ferrante’s sisters.
Translator: İpek Tabur
Proof-reader: Müge Karahan