When it comes to Tinder, what I fear the most isn’t being unmatched — although that does hurt my feelings. It’s the fateful words, “Can we follow each other on Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat?”
But it happens. It’s nearly 2019 and social media, whatever your platform of choice, is pretty much inescapable. For my part, I spend a regrettably large amount of time on Twitter, but along with almost 60 percent of U.S. millennials I also use Instagram, and despite personally finding Snapchat tiresome — I’m an elderly millennial, okay? — I have to acknowledge that it’s a favorite among teens and early 20-somethings. Facebook may be fast becoming the preserve of baby boomers, but it remains the platform one can most reliably expect another person to use.
Given how much time we’re all spending on social media, I’ve accepted the inevitability of my Tinder matches eventually trying to find my various online profiles, whether it’s to dig up a candid selfie or move our bubbling banter over to a pure social network. Once the in-app conversation gathers enough momentum, it’s never long before I read, “Can we find each other on Instagram?” or “What’s your Snapchat?” But my answer to these requests is pretty much always a firm “No, thanks” — or if I’m really attracted to someone, I’ll let them know we can exchange phone numbers rather than Twitter or Instagram handles.
Why do I have such a hardline approach to what is, for many people, a reasonable request for social media contact? Firstly, despite having more than 30,000 followers on Twitter, I still think of it — and most of my social media spaces — as being more like my living room than a public soapbox. When I joined Twitter, I used it to make friends, shoot the breeze with people I liked, find new music, and read decent articles. Having a prospective date follow me on Twitter would feel weirdly intimate, like letting them rifle through my underwear drawer or the glovebox of my car, and I’d feel similarly strange about entering their social media world so quickly (it’s a weird way to feel about a large public profile, I know, but I didn’t say my reasons were entirely logical).
Besides, the entire point of dating is to find out the information one tends to trawl social media for clues about. What are their interests? Do the two of you have compatible values? Is this person cute, or were their photos a fluke? It’s understandable to want to skip straight to the meaty details, but my philosophy is that, rather than scouring through each other’s social media, we should just go on a date. All will be revealed in person, and we can leave our sacred spaces sacred in the meantime.
I’m also concerned that should things go south between me and this prospective date, we’re setting up a whole lot of potential awkwardness. Let’s face it: During the early stages of dating, there’s still a decent chance the person you’re casually seeing could reveal their love of airport self-help books, latent homophobia, lax personal hygiene habits, or [insert your own deal breaker here], and when this happens, you need to be able to move on civilly and swiftly without the lingering discomfort of being mutuals on social media. Obviously you can unfollow regrettable dates at a later point, but why not save yourself the trouble? The only other option is wincing while your carefully curated feed fills up with selfies posed alongside tigers and mega-basic inspirational quotes — a fate I’m sure we can all agree is worth taking almost any precaution to avoid.
Tinder is a dating app that facilitates cross-pollination with social media sites: You can link your Instagram account to your Tinder profile and even add a Spotify anthem (not a social media site per se, but a streaming service with a strong social component). Many people cherish these features and make good use of them, and plenty of Tinder users happily volunteer their Snapchat and Twitter handles in their bios. I’m happy for them and wish them the burgeoning follower counts and Story viewers they’re seeking — you’ll just never find me among their ranks.