“So hey, do you live around here?” could be replaced by silly selfies if Tinder’s new Moments feature takes off. The swiping part of Tinder was always fun, akin to spotting potential lovers across the bar. The problem was ending up with a bunch of matches on Tinder or someone making “come hither” eyes at you in real life, but having nothing to say to break the ice.
You know where people never have that problem? Snapchat. That’s because you don’t have to “say” anything. Its rapid-fire photo and video capture make communicating visually easier than typing. Why text a friend “home drinking” when you can draw a little martini glass tipped into a photo of your open gullet? And since your snaps disappear rather than living forever like on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t have to worry if you don’t look perfect or act a little over the top.
With any luck, Tinder could bring the same care-free communication to its app with Moments. Snap a pic, add overlaid text or drawings, and it becomes visible to all your previous matches for the next 24 hours. If there was any confusion about what to photograph, Moments defaults the camera to front-facing so…SELFIES! Sure, you can also take pics of you with friends to prove you’re not a total outcast, or your high-flying adventures to show off your luxury lifestyle. But I’d bet that there’ll lots of “trying too hard” smirks and deplorable duck faces.
I just tried Momenting a pic of my new haircut, and found it immediately less stressful than getting tongue-tied trying to come up with a perfect pick-up line. Choosing whether to complement, insult, go generic, or be weird when chatting on Tinder is the subject of intense strategy debates. But more often than not, they all feel forced and somewhat impersonal. If I feel creepy sending these messages, my sympathy goes out to their recipients.
Sending selfies instead embraces the inherently shallow brilliance of Tinder. The whole app is based on snap judgements about people’s appearances. It seemed somewhat odd to follow that up with trying to pull your best Shakespeare. Moments puts your dumb mug back front-and-center, but it does lets you embellish it with a few words or a drawing. For guys without the chiseled jaw or dreamy eyes of a movie star, the ability to approach women with a funny photo or doodle could even the playing field.
Of course, none of this will work if people don’t actually open the Moments notifications and browse the section. The simplicity of Tinder has been one of its strong suits compared to bloated profile-based dating apps. It feels more like game than a “I’m going to die alone if I don’t stay on this dating site. Moments definitely complicates things, and if the failures of tacked-on social features like Instagram Direct are any indicator, it can tough teaching the old dogs of Tinder a new way to flirt. And Tinder hopes that moments will help it march beyond dating and into fostering other types of relationships.
Tinder rocketed to ubiquity by mirroring the best parts of meatspace courtship but ditching the worst. It combines the natural desire to vet by appearance with tech-powered asynchronous two-way approvals to make rejection invisible. Moments could bring two more IRL dating fixtures into the fold: body language and humor. You were a crummy poet anyways.