With news last week that the New York State Assembly had passed a legislation prohibiting the infamous “tiger-selfie”, internet daters throughout Britain and the world were sent into hairball-induced panic about the aesthetic future of their dating profiles.
For some unknown reason, it has become rife amongst the male internet dater to believe that by presenting himself up close and personal with a big cat (customarily of the stripy variety) it will vastly increase his sex appeal and desirability to other singletons. Seriously. In the wise words of a much beloved and well known tiger, how on earth will potential lovers sense that you are GRRRRRREAT if you are sans tiger-selfie?
The “tiger-selfie” or T.S as it is sometimes dubbed among the more hip (a prophetic coincidence that the lyrics from Cats were based on the work of none other than T.S Eliot), is a remarkably self-explanatory phenomenon: place yourself in close proximity with an oversized, dangerous feline, pick up your phone/camera, raise your arm to the heavens and say “Cheese!”, whilst keeping fingers, limbs and other extraneous bodily parts crossed in the hope that your chosen beast is not currently ravenous.
Admittedly, the legislation only prevents direct contact between members of the public and tigers in the state of New York and declares that "the purpose of this bill is to protect animal caretakers, those interacting with wild animals, bystanders, and the animals themselves”; rather than the prevention of any amorous encounters then.
The internet dating app Tinder is apparently the biggest culprit for the “tiger-selfie” with some Tinder users "estimating they encounter tigers in one out of every 10 profiles they view,” the Wall Street Journal said. There is in fact an entire blog dedicated to ‘Tinder Guys with Tigers’, a site "documenting the absurdly large number of dudes who have taken a picture with a tiger and are attempting to use said picture to woo women on the internet". Cue shaking of head and rolling of eyes.
For those of you not familiar with Tinder, you are the lucky ones; it is a dating service app which acts as an Argos catalogue of cleavage, six packs and selfies. I’m still deeply in mourning for the loss of the catalogue so I use it here tentatively in this analogy.
The premise of Tinder is that you are presented with an array of pictures of single folk in your vicinity; one can define one’s own vicinity from a range of 0-160km depending on how many fish one wants to catch. So to speak. You then have the power to swipe ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether their visage tickles your tackle. If both parties swipe ‘yes’ Tinder then allows you to chat to one another and the age old exchange of winky emoticons and ‘What ru up 2?’s can begin.
By its very nature Tinder is instantly making people disposable, its foundations lie on the immediate rejection or acceptance of another’s appearance. And not even their actual, 3D, physical appearance but a 2D version pixilated on a tiny screen more than likely featuring them accompanying the aforementioned tiger on their travels to the Far East and beyond. Swoon.
You could pass by, or, sorry, swipe by the love of your life because he or she didn’t take a good photo. Take Chandler Bing for example, admittedly an archaic and fictional reference, but that man’s face did not hold up well in front of the camera and, unfortunately for Chandler, would have definitely succumbed to a left swipe - i.e. a no.
All most of us want, once we push past our imbedded cynicism/realism/otherism, and I include myself in this unruly bunch, is to walk down the street reading a book and bump into the love of our lives who coincidentally (THANK YOU FATE/GOD/JUPITER IN RETROGRADE) is reading the same book. It would be a slightly less romantic scenario to collide with a potential lover as a result of mutual Tinder scourage; Austen would loosen her corset and turn in her grave.
It may be overly dramatic to say, but with Tinder comes the death of romance. Where is the mystery? The magic? The chance? I am not naïve enough to deny that meeting someone special in this day and age can seem like an uphill struggle and nigh on impossible at times but surely, SURELY, it is far more likely to happen if you are looking up at the people around you rather than being preoccupied with swiping.
Tinder is perfect for the singleton that is looking for an immediate distraction, a bit of a giggle (undeniably at the expense of other singletons’ photos), or a cheeky, ahem, snog. But for those of us with bigger - and yes, ultimately - more idealistic fish to fry, Tinder is not the way forward. And for that reason both me and my tigers, are out.