Hooking up on tinder: What our profiles say about us

How lonely hearts present themselves on the dating app Tinder provides a revealing glimpse of the typical South African in search of a mate — he likes cars, and she likes wine bars

02 July 2017 - 00:01 By Claire Keeton

Romance and fish are not normally associated with each other, but the scaly creatures are a big theme among South African guys looking for love.
There's a definite trend among South African men over the age of 30 to post pictures on Tinder of themselves holding a fish. Do they believe this makes them a better catch? That they will get hooked up more easily? Women of this age are more likely to pose with a tiger than a tiger fish on the dating app.
For the uninitiated, Tinder works like this: users can upload five photos and a brief bio of themselves, then tick age, gender and location settings to get started. Unlike established dating sites, users do not answer questions about their interests.
A female Johannesburg academic was surprised when she went on to Tinder to be confronted with numerous photos of guys with fish.Big cats and exotic animals also feature on male profiles, while some men show off dead antelope or guns. Unsurprisingly, men's most common props appear to be cars, motorbikes and mountain bikes. In some cases, men display only their cars, and omit their faces, which presumably says a lot about their priorities.
Danai Mupotsa, a lecturer in the African literature department at the University of the Witwatersrand, who often writes about romantic love, said: "People use their photos to mark their class, gender and race."
Joburg men are more likely to advertise their social or economic status and Cape Town men their sporty, outdoor life.
Lion's Head, Sea Point promenade and beaches are popular locations for Cape Town shots, often featuring ripped abs.In Cape Town, many foreigners disclose they are on Tinder searching for holiday dates or hook-ups.
Anecdotally, it appears that older users on Tinder in South Africa tend to be white but in other African countries, such as Ethiopia, the profiles are more diverse.
Most of those looking for a date on the app prefer not to be named, perceiving a stigma to being on Tinder.
The abundance of generic profiles can make it hard for people to choose what they want, though they may find it's much like real life.Financial journalist Larry Claasen said: "The most telling thing I've learnt from Tinder and internet dating in general is that I actually have a 'type'. Chances are we would hit it off if you have no real time to socialise, have a postgraduate degree of some sort and have a bleeding heart for a social cause."
To find a quick match, Tinder users agree that it's smarter to be specific and put up a distinctive profile than stick to safe clichés.
Dale said that in this digital world, in which people are stressed and deprived of dopamine, getting a match on Tinder could feel good and even searching for those hits can become addictive.
"The potential for love is one swipe away. It's like you have a free slot machine in your hand and this stimulates your frontal cortex like drugs do. Tinder is the crack cocaine of the cellphone world."Users over 40 often seemed to be pursuing relationships rather than superficial hook-ups, said Mupotsa.
Some couples meet through Tinder, form long-term relationships and have children together, for example Cape Town artist Alexander Krenz and his partner. Another such couple is a Muslim woman who describes herself as "liberal" and her partner, a chef from the Democratic Republic of Congo.South African Ayal Belling has designed a swipe-dating app, Predict Dating, which refines the Tinder model by allowing users to clarify their intentions upfront: no, yes for a fling, and yes to a possible long-term relationship.
"People are being honest about what they are there for," he said.
But sometimes all it takes is a picture. Krenz said of his partner: "She had a down-to-earth, simple profile of herself sitting on the kitchen floor, and I had this intuitive sense about her when I swiped right."
He fell for her hook, line and sinker.
Tinder rules
Do
Show your face; be literate; be original; be specific; show your personality. If you like someone, meet them in person as soon as possible.
Don't
Show only group shots, memes or inspirational quotes; misrepresent your body or age; put up poorly lit or blurry pics; show guns, dead or captive animals; have pets or children in every photo; post naked shots; post photos in which your partner has been cut or blacked out.

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