Tinder is the Night 

Fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary read on.

by Alex Smith

I am a firm believer in swiping left.


Shirtless pic? Left.


Bad grammar in your bio? Left.


More than 20 miles away? Left.


Duke student? Hard left.


Maybe that’s cynical.


Maybe my inherent fear that I will actually see someone outside of Tinder is unjustified and childish, but I enjoy playing God on an app where I am not held accountable in the least and am not forced to see the people that I actually do swipe right on.


But we’ve all been there.


Desperately searching for someone worthy of matching with, hoping that they wouldn’t begin the conversation with a sexually explicit pick-up line that would better suit a horny 15-year-old boy. Feeling slightly disappointed when Jameson, 21, 5 miles away, with a body like Chris Hemsworth and a bio that oozes charisma starts off with a simple ‘U dtf?’. Sighing to yourself when you finally realize that maybe resigning to a life of cat-ladyhood is not so bad, or worse, that maybe you will have to venture out into the real world.


I’m not saying I need a man. My mother has raised me to be a strong, independent woman, inspiring me with stories of our female ancestors, each trailblazers in their own time, from my fashion-focused grandmother, sassy and beautiful at 90, to my fiery and “wise-beyond-her-years” 15-year-old cousin, I am surrounded by strong women at every turn.


Nonetheless, with Valentine’s day slowly rearing its depressing, chocolate-covered, rose-adorned head, I came to realize that I am painfully single, more evident when the Muse announced their issue would be ‘Love and Relationships’ for the first publication of the semester.


I, an avid left swiper, concocted a plan with the only thing that has supplemented my basically nonexistent love life since coming to Duke.


If every other boy is so disgusting on Tinder, what are Duke boys like?


It’s no surprise to many that the male population at Duke has a reputation. Duke has too high a sexual assault statistic, and a Google search of ‘Duke Fraternities’ casts a shadow on an otherwise elite institution. I’ve heard many people classify a large number of Duke men as following a ‘ask forgiveness rather than permission’ motto. Many women at Duke don’t feel safe on campus.


With this knowledge in hand, I had an unwavering vision of writing a scalding article where I exposed the male Duke Tinder users for their vulgar language, single-minded aims, and blatant misogyny when talking through a screen. I envisioned sending them the link to this very article and showing them all that they should be held accountable for their actions, to show them that they would now have to face the consequences! Exposed!


So, like any good Duke student, I developed an experiment.


My Tinder was previously geared toward attracting my “type” (Edgy boys? Where do you lie in hiding?), and to match with a Duke student, I knew it needed some revamping. So, I scoured my phone for the preppiest photos I could find, which, if you know me, you know are rare. I settled with showing myself in a ray of lights, from intellectual to girly to outgoing to sorority girl and all other notches on the continuum. I changed my bio, referencing a way to open the conversation that would lead to some sort of meaningful conversation as opposed to some sort of sexual innuendo.


I debated not going through with it, hiding my account permanently and resigning myself to spinsterhood (is that dramatic?), but I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and started swiping. The first time I swiped right on a Duke student, my heart nearly exploded in my chest.


In an hour I had matched will no less and no more than 17 Duke students, each of varying degrees of “public policy”, or the like, and all perfectly well rounded and well versed in conversation. Like a spider, I awaited the moment that they said something worthy to put in this article. Something that would show them as the chauvinistic pigs that they were.


My results?




Not only did I find a comprehensive list of every boy from my high school who now attends a Triangle School (you know who you are), but I came to the conclusion that, dare I say, not every Duke student on Tinder is out to get you. In fact, Duke students were some of the only guys on Tinder to actually ask me about my interests, to offer advice and take the conversations slowly.


I received offers to go to Trivia Night at the Krafthouse, to be taken out to dinner, to see movies. I was given class advice, asked about my time at Duke, my experience Rushing, complimented on my academic endeavors, and, more importantly, none of it felt...blatantly creepy. I enjoyed talking to these people. I realize that ulterior motives could possibly have been had, but everything seemed...fine.


In a huff, I anxiously slammed my phone down over dinner at Marketplace, telling my best friend the disappointing yet inspiring news.


“They’re not all bad.” I said, digging my fork into a bowl full of garbanzo beans, and shoveling them into my mouth angrily. “The boys on Tinder.”


She raised an unapproving brow, warning me that this could go one of two ways. It could go well. Or terribly.


I realized, much to my chagrin, that I had no content.


That nothing that had happened on any of my Tinder conversations or excursions had been notable (except for a particularly terrible date to church (of all places) with a student from...the other blue school, to which I immediately called my mother and ranted on a seemingly empty ride to East Campus on a C2) but that instead I had renewed hope for the next three years at Duke.


Don’t get me wrong.


I am still single.


But I am now single by choice, open to meeting the amazing population of young leaders surrounding me at a top-rated institution.


Maybe that’s not the point of Tinder. Maybe Tinder is simply a great way to “cut through the crap” and meet the otherwise busy student body of a school that puts academics at a forefront. Maybe I am just a cynic, destined to spend my days with a knit blanket and a rerun of the Golden Girls blaring on television somewhere secluded with my cats. Or maybe, this Valentine’s Day, I should focus less on stereotypes, and more on living in the moment. More on enjoying the people who are around me. And more on being happier where I am, and taking life (and dating) one swipe at a time.