by Snigdha Poonam

2014 will go down in history as the year we embraced Tinder. Everyone you meet in Delhi seems to be on Tinder and have an opinion about it. Every day, someone tells you about the blog 50 Dates in Delhi, where an anonymous woman records her dates with Delhi men, several of them off Tinder. Big debates are taking place: more girls or guys on Tinder? Is Tinder the best thing to have happened to girls looking for fun? Is this the dawn of the hookup culture in India? The end of Indian pretensions about chastity?

Tinder is a matchmaking phone app synchronised with Facebook. It simplifies one’s potential dates to the essential qualifications: profile photos and physical distance. The idea is to be shamelessly shallow. The app encourages you to choose people based purely on their looks and the feasibility of an offline encounter. If you were the sort who fussed about “matching,” the app shows you mutual friends and mutual interests culled from Facebook. The most peculiar thing about Tinder is the cold brutality of how you select and reject people in an instant. The app lines up your options as a series of profile pictures. Like a nawab putting together his harem, you decide their fates with the flick of a finger: a swipe to the left meaning “no thanks” and a one to the right “yes, please.” Reciprocal swipes make up a “match” and allow users to message each other.

Last week, I downloaded the app on my phone and identified myself as someone interested in both sexes. Within an hour of going through the pages, it was clear that the men outnumbered women by an outrageous ratio. I left-swiped my way through men until my eyes hurt and my forefinger twitched: men against waterfalls, men against foreign bridges, men in the forest, men by the beach, men rowing boats, men climbing rocks, men lifting weights, men chugging beer, men in vests, men in sherwanis, men-in-suit selfies taken in luxury hotel lounges, men hanging out with other men, men hanging out with women, men clearly with their wives, sometimes even children.

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Copyright (C) 2014, Scroll.in. Excerpted with permission.