“Swipe left” has become synonymous with a distasteful or disliked person or experience. The new catch phrase is more than a remnant from the dating app Tinder, as it’s become symbolic of how we view experiences. Tinder, a dating app based solely on pictures and a 140-character bio is known to be more of a hook up facilitator than a fully-fledged dating app. Its basis is simple, swipe right for someone you like and be connected with them if they liked you too, swipe left for the ones you don’t.
Swipe left is taking a hard pass on something from a quick glimpse. Most of it is shooting from the hip; you glance and decide using Systems 1, or our quick thinking brain. There’s no algorithm for match percentage, no need to fill out a questionnaire or worry about what your screenname says about you. The new app does let you list some interests and show mutual connections via Facebook, but it’s that look across a bar and form a judgment based on appearances. The best part? You never have to ignore a request or message because once you swipe left, they’re gone, disappeared into oblivion before it even gets that far. Who needs social graces or appropriate ways of dealing with rejection and rejecting when you can just click no and become a ghost?
We teach our kids to “not judge a book by its cover” but failed to mention that that goes out the window when you grow up. In fact, we rely heavily on our brain’s ability to make snap judgments without a second thought (pun intended) in our everyday life and work. The sadly brilliant part about Tinder is that it makes the most of this ability by saying “no, don’t worry about their personality, or forming a connection, go for what’s really important” which is looks of course.
No before you go swiping left to this statement because your friend’s friend met her boyfriend on Tinder, just consider how intolerant we are for lengthy processes. It’s not that people are making bad decisions it’s that we’ll forget how to actually deal with things we don’t like or want in real life. How you let someone down or deliver unwanted news is a fundamental part of a civilized society, dating or otherwise. Delivering bad news is a skill one has to develop with a careful balance of truth and tact. Too much of one, and meanings and intent suffer.
Don’t go blaming another thing on these gosh-darned kids with their mobile technology, because sometimes, snap judgments are more reliable. You can find goodness in anyone if you try hard enough, and the world would in fact be a better place if we didn’t judge someone based on looks. But step by step rational thinking doesn’t always get us to a different or better place. For any of us who is partly consumed by the introspective process, this is a terrifying belief, but we really need to trust our own mind more than we do. That being said, next time you have a task that you don’t want to complete, you can’t just yell “LEFT SWIPE” and hope it disappears like that guy with a neckbeard.