Lacanian Review Online: Love and Sex in the Tinder Era

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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)
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21st January 2019


Igniters
Gustavo Dessal
 

Dating apps for romantic or sexual encounters, or both together, began in the gay community. Grindr and Scruff were the pioneers, allowing gay men to be aware of about the existence of others in a determined geographic radius. Tinder (2012) was an important step because it extended the idea to people of all types of identity or sexual orientation. To begin with it was only compatible with the iPhone, but a year later there was the leap to Android, the operating system of 70% of mobiles.

What consequences has Tinder had on love life? Opinions are varied, as happens when one evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of technologies. A heated debate between IT engineers was direct testimony of this. While some maintained that thanks to Tinder the possibilities of encounters had multiplied, others argued that the increase in quantity was certainly damaging of the quality. Many people explained that by way of Tinder they had managed to meet someone outside the restricted circles in which their daily life took place, while there were those who said they had encountered a large number of people they wished they had never met in their life. There are those who consider that hooking up in this way increases the risk of maltreatment, cruelty or deceit, given that virtual communication allows one to hide or withdraw oneself from any commitment. In contrast, others make a case for the possibility of finding someone in an era in which this is increasingly difficult.

Dating apps have built a wall that separates daily life from the sentimental or the sexual in a radical way. It is difficult to know whether the extension of their use is due to the fact that relations in real life have become suspect. Today one would think twice before trying to approach someone in one’s academic or work environment. There is a very high possibility that this conduct could be judged to be a moral assault and not everyone is prepared to risk their skin. It is interesting how often one hears, as a litany expressed in undertone, the degree to which people wish to meet someone in real life, something that is now quite improbable. Who would today dare to ask for the phone number of a woman that one bumps into with a shopping trolley in the supermarket? Or of a work colleague? Tinder, in contrast, offers a zone where the actors involved are unable to make complaints or formal accusations if things don’t turn out as expected, especially as no-one has great illusions or puts great hopes there.

The most remarkable thing is that Tinder has become another form of work, even a form of jouissance in itself, one that substitutes for the encounter. Navigating the app, looking at photographs and biopics, initiating chats that go nowhere, take the place of physical dates for many people. And in conformity with current times, there are those who feel terribly guilty and tormented about not finding anything. The internet has created a thousand genies ready to emerge as soon as we rub the lamp of an application. Thus, if you are not happy, if you do not have a job, if you have not found your slice of the pie, you are definitely a failure, because the system has handed you on a tray everything you need for complete fulfilment. But don’t worry. There is still the option of seeking out a life coach who will help you to improve your performance. And if this still doesn’t produce the desired outcome, there is always a good serotonin reuptake inhibitor to be recommended.

 

Translated by Roger Litten

 
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Issue # 6 of The Lacanian Review
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