Swipe right for lessons in anthropology

In an effort to distract myself from our end-of-days Trumpian hellscape, I have been doing two things all week: volunteering with refugee food distribution in northern France, and Tinder dating.

Not at the same time.

The former, as well as being practical, helps with my own overwhelming sense of political impotence; the latter, while entirely frivolous, helps maintain a sense of the absurd. Because nothing, Trump visits aside, is more absurd than Tinder. It is the angel dust of dating apps. The crack pipe of swipe culture. And unintentionally hilarious, providing you’re not sensitive, easily shocked, hurt, or dismayed. Or offended by random thumbnails suggesting inappropriate behaviour via emoji misuse or uninvited close-ups. And that’s just the middleaged end of Tinder — maybe the Millennials are more evolved.

I don’t know. I’m too old to go there, and besides, polyamory sounds knackering. Instead, I put my homemade anthropology hat on, and swipe forth into the over-40s man swamp.

After filtering out the obviously unhinged and blatantly unsavoury, in as much as you can on Tinder (although, unlike women, at least men tend not to regard Snapchat bunny ears and nose filters as alluring), I wade through the functionally illiterate in search of those who can both spell and meet in the daytime for coffee, while feeling a fleeting frisson on envy for people with arranged marriages. Bet they never had to sift a million dud profiles.

Over a dozen hot black Americanos — if only I were describing my dates here, and not the contents of my coffee cup — I meet a steady stream of male humanity. And oh, what a stream. The one who says he is deeply spiritual, since getting out of jail for GBH.

The one who makes much of his wealth, to distract from his width. The one who eats with his mouth open and talks with his mouth full. Thank god it was a lone flapjack, rather than three courses.

The one who knocked a full decade off his age, then winked and said he thought he could get away with it, since he’d had all the Botox. (Mate, no. Just no).

The one who went on and on about his ex, until I interjected to remind him that I’d have to invoice him for 50 minutes of therapy if he didn’t STFU.

And the drippy one who kept talking about his inner child, referring to said child in the third person. Reader, I nearly puked.

And yet, it remains entertaining. People are funny. Funny peculiar, and funny hilarious. What did we do before Tinder apart from pretending that we could matchmake at dinner parties, as though we were in a Richard Curtis film? Dating apps may be savage bear pits of disposability, but they’re fun.

Where else are you going to bump into a Trump supporting midget?

Someone whose hobby is collecting hubcaps?

A 40-something anarchist who lives with his mum?

Nowhere.

And as a reality blocker, it’s peerless. Swipe, swipe, swipe.

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