My tinder bot doesn’t have wit or AI, just a seemingly endless supply of cheesy one liners.
I don’t want to start off by getting myself into trouble but the statistics speak for themselves, tinder is obviously different game depending on your gender (lets assume binary for the sake of simplicity). Male users swipe right to 46% of potential matches, female swipe to 14%.
Still relatively low swipe right rate overall but the compound effect points to some basic underlying truths in our biology. It pays to be picky when your a lady, for more than a few reasons I wont go into.
When Tinder blew up I was about 18 and just coming out of a long term relationship. I was in post-breakup mode staying my cousin for a guys weekend, when he ushered me into the cave he called his apartment and gave me the rundown. His questionable methods included asking girls out to the book shop “so they think you’re deep” and his leading strategy of interlacing cute puppies between profile pictures for “subliminal association”. Questionable methods but he was hitting 2 to 5 dates a week, I was out for a messy couple of days and keen to see what I could fish up in a new city.
I started swiping slowwwly weighing up each of the girls for some time to consider the full spectrum of possibility. Its not just important if the girls decent looking, but I dont mean in the sense that I was only concerned about what their personalities might be (I was 18 after all).. and Beer changes things. My older sister was watching over my shoulder laying out the rules from the opposite perspective and advising my technique. Her first critique “speed dude.. its a numbers game”.
Two realizations sank in pretty quickly:
Fast forward to 2017. I caught a bus to Budapest, it didn’t take long before I realized that every time I left the house I ended up surrounded by some of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen. I was young (I still am) and a traveler, working in a hostel, the night life was part of my job but hardly fruitful for a young fella trying to meet a nice girl in a foreign country.
Of all the wacky far out hippie conspiracies and criticisms you’ll hear backpacking around Europe — one you dont often hear is the negative aspects of owning a smartphone. Lets face it, toxic as they may be the ease in which they eradicate virtually all the stresses of nomadic wandering in a far away continent makes it basically quite dumb not to keep one close — unless you are one of those truly bearded wanderers who thrive on the feeling of running for missed busses in soaking wet socks and sleeping in dumpsters.
Tinder is another vital tool to the backpackers swiss army knife although perhaps only for those who are a little more daring (or maybe have a little less romantic integrity). Shameless but true — its great for getting local advice on where to go / what to see and (amnesty please) if you really get stuck for somewhere to stay… I think you know where I’m going.
So anyway, it was 2017 in Budapest, I loaded it up and began the rigorous thumb workout, not long before a few matches come in I’m no James dean but somehow I do okay. Then the moment when you have to actually start something.. A circus act at the best of times but the anxiety is amplified when every match looks like the girl of your dreams and barely speaks your language.
As a guy you learn pretty quickly that hey’s and hi’s are guaranteed to smother all potential everywhere. Normal approaches that you’d expect in daily life like striking up a basic conversation or posing a lighthearted or teasing compliment are equally cancerous. In text only format (especially before the days of GIF) trying to express your unique vibe with basic characters and sticking to a succinct length not so intense its met with tldr or sends the girl running for the hills, can be quite a challenge.
(Flash political note: I still think its bs that with all the feminist movements going on its guys that are expected to make the first move every time).
So basic implementation: it was summer in 2018 when I sat down for an afternoon and typed up a python script I call flint which will log into tinder on my behalf and swipe everyone. Selenium web-driver on python, sure it saved some time but nothing too amazing.
Then I decided to take care of the messaging — I added an intermediary function which would scrape a twitter page of funny conversation starters and send them out periodically to any new uninitiated conversations.
Bazinga, my phone was buzzing so hard I started leaving it at home because I needed a break. I couldn’t keep up with the bot, in fact it even had the occasional bug which would send a match a timestamp instead of the actual line, sometimes it would two lines at once. But none of these aspects mattered, two lines was better than one in some cases and there was more ways than one to follow up a random timestamp with something cheesy like “the moment I first realized.. [insert as required]”.
At this point I was more concerned about showing it off to my friends than I was about the performance of my actual profile, but it certainly took care of the initial repetitive bore of swiping and meandering around how to start a conversation with nothing but a picture of a stranger and their geographical proximity.
Its all about the first message. And there have been plenty of times I’ve sat for a long period like a good boy and genuinely transferred my feelings into something hilarious and creative, some quirky and poetic, heartfelt masterpiece Tolkien would be proud of. But then for all that investment.. You cant even be sure the account is real / the person isnt just fishing for Instagram likes / has a boyfriend and likes attention / in weird swinger relationship / is trans .. the list goes on.
Now I dont use tinder anymore. Theres been about 2 meaningful relationships in my whole life from my use of the app and ultimately I’ve realized as with Facebook the platform has profited more from my use than the other way around.
Brace for cynicism but my thoughts are that its an app guys use to get laid or at best see where something goes, and that girls use to boost their Instagram accounts and hope they can land a guy with safe “dad vibes” who might be desperate enough to stick around for awhile. Arguably its quite brilliant for those purposes and hence remains to thrive as an immensely profitable platform, reportedly arranging more than 1,500,000 dates per week.
Plans for the script were to expand into updating location periodically either with passport or by faking GPS coordinates, working its way around a city or region capturing all the users inside. But I never got around to it.
So this was a pretty entertaining but depressing social experiment. I was also planning to initially record the response rates of each conversation starter and remove the less effective from storage periodically. I never got round to it but I can honestly say nothing genuinely thought about and carefully written has ever worked as consistently well in terms of ROI as the dime a dozen copy pasted cheesy one liners like “are you from star wars coz yodalicious”. Does that bare reflecting on modern communication and our debilitating sense of cultural wit? Possibly, does it just mean I suck at e-dating? Could be. Do I care? Not really (a little bit).
The bot scripts are public on GitHub if you feel so inclined — dive right in, maybe the love of your life is just waiting for a robot to tell her shes as cute as a cucumber.