Editorials — August 27, 2015 10:46 — 0 Comments

Love at First Swipe with Maggie

Maggie MK Hess is The Monarch’s resident online dating (read: Tinder) expert. She is throwing a galla event called Love at First Swipe Sep. 17. In honor of the event, we asked her a few questions to see whaasssup?!!

What is the basis for your uber-interest in Tinder?

I am 100% fascinated by online dating. I also think it’s frequently boring. It’s just like regular dating, which is also fascinating and boring.

Online dating is this great, shared experience—like growing up or a presidential election or Dick’s french fries—that so many of us have in common. If you’re between the ages of, oh, say, 18 and 40 right now and single or recently single, I would guess that you’re either online dating, you have online dated, or you’re wondering if you should be online dating.

Here is how online dating is different than regular dating: volume and access. I think we’re all voyeurs, and online dating lets us peek into the lives of people we would never otherwise meet. It lets us peek at what our lives might be like if we were with those people.

Tinder’s just the platform I happen to use. I’m in a place where I think online dating should be entertaining, and so I like the way that it feels like “playing” on my phone even though I don’t treat other people like a game. I’m nervous about revealing too much about myself online (ha!), so I like the low-info profile. I think the people I most likely want to meet are on Tinder—they’re certainly not in my apartment, I can tell you that much. If there were a lot of attractive, straight, single men between the ages of 26 and 34 in my apartment, I would not be on Tinder. I would also be really pissed about sharing the bathroom.

What about the interface? Does looking on a screen make you worse at looking around in physical life?

I’m sure having a smartphone with all the answers to every question that could ever be asked makes me worse in general at looking around me. But no, online dating hasn’t made me less likely to meet people in real life. The opposite, in fact: I’ve found that Tinder has made me more open to the idea of meeting people in general.

I’ve met more men in real life since I started online dating then I did in the whole previous year. First of all, everyone looks like someone I might have seen on Tinder. Second of all, because I’m online dating, I’m aware that I’m open to meeting new people. I’ve been reminded that meeting new people can be easy. That talking to a guy and seeing what he’s like doesn’t mean declaring any sort of intentions toward the interaction, or toward what I want out of life. It’s reminded me that rejection isn’t that scary and he may want to talk to me, too. That talking to someone who looks like someone I might like is the quickest way to test that theory. Real-life like.

But really—is there some reason I need to meet people initially in real life rather than online? What does it matter how we meet?

Tinder is known for a quicker turn around of hooking up – maybe pushes for more one night stands – are there other dating avenues you’re interested in that promise more of a long term sorta thing?

I’ll give you a few answers here and you can pick your favorite:

1) There are too many people on Tinder to assume everyone there is looking for the same thing. I also think it’s a mistake to assume people on other dating sites are interested in something long-term simply because they’re on that site. If you can’t tell from the interaction, ask.

2) I really haven’t felt Tinder itself pushing me to have any one-night stands. No one from the company has shown up to play “Let’s Get It On” outside my window.

3) I’m mildly offended at this point that people assume they know intimate details of how I treat sex by what apps are on my phone.

4) Anecdotes aren’t data, but I know so many people on Tinder, and all of them are using it as a dating app, not a sex app. Now, what dating looks like is between two (or more) people. But that’s always been true and continues to be true no matter what site you’re using. Most people I know are on both OkCupid and Tinder. They’re seeing the same people on both sites. So…unless everyone is Jekyll and Hyde-ing their way across the Seattle dating scene….

5) It might be as simple as: I prefer Tinder because I prefer text messaging to email.

6) I think Tinder’s winning right now because the app is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, intuitive, and gives the user only what they need in that moment. It’s the Apple of dating apps. Steve Jobs would be so proud.

7) Are you telling me eHarmony can promise me love or my money back? That’s a good offer.

You’re a writer by trade, how has Tinder affected your writing life?

I’m on Tinder for the material. And because I got bored of playing Solitaire on my phone. And to find love. But mostly for the material. But also the love thing.

Tell me about the event coming up, Love at First Swipe? 

Ever since I started writing about online dating, people have started coming up to me to share their own experiences. It’s been one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. People talk about online dating with their friends, in very small intimate groups—and sometimes only with their friends who they know are also online dating. People also talk about online dating on the Internet, which is this very big, anonymous space.

I’m interested in the in-between—dozens or a couple hundred people in one room, some strangers, all talking to each other. And I’m interested in what artists are making out of their online dating experiences. So I planned an arts night, Love at First Swipe: The Art of Online Dating.

Five local writers are reading original essays about online dating (Brian McGuigan, Steve Barker, Corina Zappia, Jean Burnet, and I).

Two artists are showing series they’ve made about being on OkCupid (Carrie DeBacker and Ryan Molenkamp).

(Part of why I planned the night was just for the excuse to reach out to and work with these amazing writers and artists that I admire.)

We’re going to play online dating bingo (“Find a former date! Get a high-quality high five! Find someone who can name all the Golden Girls.”) and Babeland is giving prizes. Babeland is also going to do a sex workshop—I love Babeland because they’re inclusive, feminist, women-friendly, sex- and body-positive. That’s how I want the night to feel. Everyone is invited—single, coupled, online dating or not.

And then we’re going to end it all with a dance party—where you can either shake it off, shake it out, or shake it like a polaroid picture.

Art, sex, dancing, and online dating—it just feels right. Let’s put ’em in a room and see what happens.


Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney