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Tinder Trends Part 4: The Big Study Epilogue

A few little bits and bobs to finish off The Big Study this week. I mentioned in the last post that I had a few more data points I wanted to tease out, mostly regarding age.

My first point was a bit surprising – does Tinder want me to be a cougar?

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More than 50% of profiles shown to me were aged in their twenties. I’ve been looking to see if I can find some solid demographic data – to see if it’s just reflecting the age of users, however the only stats I can find break it down in to large groups, like age 25-34. Anyway, it’s always flattering once you’re in your dotage to know that plenty of men in their twenties still look at a woman of your age as a viable option, and not just a candidate for the nursing home. I just found it odd the relative dearth of men the app seemed to be showing that were my own age.

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“When?”
“Someday!”

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Breaking down the bio features stats by age revealed that they were really pretty close. I was wondering if the data was going to surprise on the ‘looking for’ front, but it didn’t. Men who have had a little more time on the earth have a better idea of what they’re looking for, and are more inclined to tell the world. Where they seem to be a little more shy is adding information about themselves, with the 25-29 age group having the best showing here. As stated in the last post, the height factor wasn’t really much of a ‘thing’ – about 15% of all profiles listed it – but the 30-35 age group was more than twice as likely as the 25-29 age group to list their height.

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Moving on to photos, rather than looking at each photo type as a percentage of all photos, I also wanted to see how each was represented by percentage of profiles. I think faces are kind of important, so I was very pleased to see over 90% of profiles have at least one photo where the subject’s face can be seen in full. I am vaguely astounded that only 40% of profiles have a travel photo – I have used the app on and off since the study and they are absolutely still a mainstay.

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Alright, no-one’s surprised that the 25-29 year olds are dominating the meme game, nor that the 30-35 year olds have maybe had the best opportunities to travel. Nope, the biggest surprise was the 36-40 year olds having the highest average number of gym selfies. Older dudes be taking care of themselves, and they’re not afraid for you to know it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of blog posts looking at Tinder from a data analysis perspective. I’m shortly starting a new role so I’ll have to turn my Huge Nerd Brain to other, less frivolous things for a while. I have a couple of pieces that will by published off-blog in coming weeks, but Victorian Values will return in some non-Tinder-y form. If you’ve got any suggestions for subjects that you think are under-sassed and under-charted, please send them my way!

Fake Gamer Girl

The finalists for The Lizzies were announced today. For those not in the know (aka me until a year ago or so), they are IT Journalism Awards, with categories for business, technology, gaming and the like. Scanning the list of people up for awards was a bit like looking down my Twitter ‘Following’ list, and it was a bit hard not to wonder, ‘How did I get here?’

I’m a lot of things. I’m a data nerd. A sometimes-pinup. A rock ‘n’ roll fan. A Whovian.

I am not a gamer. That is a straight-up fact. I have no distaste for it, and back when I was younger and had acres of spare time, I would in fact play games. No consoles to speak of in my house, but my parents have both always worked with computers (programming and IT consulting). Honestly I don’t think the copies of The Sims and Age of Empires in our house were bought by or for me, but I devoted plenty of after-school hours to enjoying them. But after high school it didn’t develop beyond there. My passions simply lay elsewhere – if I had spare time, I wanted to spend it listening to music, reading books, and watching movies or television. I felt a greater connection to those mediums (particularly having studied English Literature and Cultural Studies at university), and that’s how I wanted to idle away my hours when they were there to idle. Even in tabletop games, because I am not the least bit competitive, I consider my main role to be less ‘engaged participant’ and more ‘Chaos Monkey’.

But I have always been surrounded by the chatter. In news that will surprise no-one, the girl who has a blog based on Excel charts was part of the geeky group in high school. Everyone around me gamed – guys and girls. And since high school, I have considered gamers to some extent to be ‘my people’. I try to show an interest in their interests – I always like to ask questions, even if I know the answer will wash over my head. My best friend Tegan, her consoles and I moved in together for a while after university, and the sound of people dodging cars in GTA became standard background noise.

Tegan – now a host of Sass Effect, a gaming and advice podcast where Victorian Values found its start, as well as a staffer at the company that publishes Kotaku and Gizmodo….and honest-to-god Lizzie nominee to boot – has become my entry to this world. In 2015 I headed off to Oz Comic-Con to cheer her on in a panel, none of the content of which I understood. Last year I somehow found myself (slightly bewildered) at the Titanfall 2 launch, and attending PAX for the first time. Unsurprisingly I have met dozens of excellent people – both IRL and online – through her, that I would not otherwise.

But I don’t strictly know where I belong in this world. Am I some sort of gaming WAG (despite being neither wife nor girlfriend)? Fake gamer girl? Hanger-on? Or have I, as someone who gets the references, listens to the podcasts and sometimes goes to the events, become a gamer by default? There was a very small campaign (of two) last year to get me to take this title on. You’ve got to admit, you’ve found yourself a special bunch when members of the community want you to call yourself the thing, without you having to actually do the thing.

But if I take it on, it’s a slippery slope before I started referring to myself as an international fashion model.

Tinder Trends Part 3: The Big Study

Okay, this is Part 1 of the Big Study. But having a Part 1 of Part 3 seemed a bit ‘Hunger Games’ of me. Or even worse, ‘The Hobbit’.

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In late March I committed myself to my largest data collection to date. I set my age parameters to 25-40 years, and my distance parameters to 50km. Over a few days I swiped through 200 profiles without discrimination, recording 13 data points on each profile. I managed to find one person worth matching with (and then quickly found myself bored when I realised I was asking all the questions), and once again questioned why I like men.

And then I stared at the data – for weeks. I plugged it in to visualisation apps. I attended an Excel Bootcamp, sure that if I just understood VLOOKUPS, or heard about a different chart type, I could get this data to tell the grand story I thought it must.

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Actual footage

What I mainly discovered is that Excel really doesn’t like that part of my data is text (four data points are Y/N). So what I’m going to do is slowly tease out some insights. Maybe there isn’t one big story to tell, but there are some smaller ones. And they’re not necessarily the stories I thought I’d be telling (surely the most fun part of data analysis – when the data tells you something unexpected).

In my last Tinder Trends entry, I talked about the infamous bios. It got pretty macro, so in this case I only looked for a few data points. I wanted to tie it back to the idea that you should:

  1. Have something to say for yourself
  2. Know what you want and what you like
  3. …I didn’t concern myself too much with fuckwittage this time, but I did have one more bio feature I was curious about…

Height. I felt like it comes up a lot, and I sort of scoff every time I see it. For one, it’s only ever tall guys who list their height, which feels kind of like boasting. Also, I don’t think height’s a personality feature. During my data compilation, I ran a (very small) poll on Twitter to see if other people felt the way I do – that it’s probably not that important to know during the very early stages:

tall

I didn’t get any in-depth responses, but I do wonder if the two women who responded with ‘Yes’ are of non-average height themselves, as I can understand the relevance if you yourself are very short or very tall. Just for avoiding potential neck strain issues.

So what did the data actually say?
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This larger sample closed the gap a bit on the old ‘I will rely solely on my appearance’ brigade, with only 23% represented this time rather than 35% in the last sample.

Obviously, the following figures are from the remaining 77% who had something to say for themselves.

Features

This chart doesn’t really represent the crossover of these three data points – I did some unnecessarily fancy Excel formula work to find there were 30 profiles that featured what they do, what they’re looking for, and height (i.e 15% of the total sample).

So, first observation: the height things isn’t really too widespread. It’s noticeable, but not exactly endemic. Can we even call ‘about 15%’ a trend?  Look, if a girl has nicknamed you The Mountain and you’re not keen to go through that again (or….you’re really keen for that to happen again), chuck it in there. But just know it doesn’t make you better than anyone else.

People are better at expressing what they’re looking for in another person than discussing their own selling points, clearly. It’s still not a great amount, but it was pretty heartening to read people express what they’re on Tinder for, and mostly without being too prescriptive. Lots of men just wanted to meet some new people. I think that’s something that’s got to come from the heart. You know what doesn’t require an excess of soul-searching? A little of information about you. I treated jobs and interests equally under the ‘what I do’ section, because I think both give insight in to a person’s character in different ways. If you’re extremely passionate about your chosen career, please put that in your bio. If your job just pays the bills. but you live for mountain biking on the weekends, chuck that in instead! Either of those things gives the other person an opening for conversation, which is important.

You know I love analysing photos, as it was the subject of my first column, but I decided to look outside the animal kingdom this time. My subjects posted an average of 4.5 photos each, which meant I had a wealth of potential data points.

Pictures

Note the scale on this one – no data point represented more than 20% of all photos. What I may pull out at some stage is the percentage of all profiles they represent, but I think this is something I want to explore more in the next part.

Travel photos are god. You’ve got to feel bad for the guy on Tinder who has never travelled overseas. How will we ever know where all the money has gone for the house deposit that will never be? I think travel is a common interest for a lot of people in the 25-40 age group, so it makes sense (real talk, I’m guilty of it myself in my own profile), and I also suspect there is simply the reality that we take more photos when we’re on holidays.
And, apparently, when we’re drinking in bars. It overwhelms the animal photos by far. It was extremely rare to find one these photos where the subject wasn’t red-faced and well on their way to inebriation. There’s a certain honesty to it, but it’s not putting your best foot forward.

And yes. There was two profiles where the person’s partner was clearly in their photo. One was explicit about their open relationship. One….was not.

My final point for this part was actually my greatest bugbear:

Faces (1)

In only 52% of pictures could you see the subject’s face in full. What was happening in the other 48% of photos?

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  • Group photos – I saw profiles where every single photo was of a group, making the person whose profile it actually was indistinguishable.
  • Sunglasses. Yes, I know you think you look hot in your sunglasses (it’s because they obscure part of your face). Once again, entire profiles could go by with only photos in sunglasses. Limit yourself to one only, and make sure your entire face is visible in another – preferably your main – photo.
  • Photos taken from so far away they might as well have been taken on the international space station (strong crossover with travel photos here).

Have you ever felt a genuine connection with someone whose face you couldn’t see? ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’ is actually a phrase for a reason, and not just because some houses look like faces.

 

 

As I set my age parameters far wider in this sample than they would usually be, in my next set of analysis I’d like to see if I can tease out some age-related data. Are you more likely to know what you’re looking for when you’re approaching 40? Are the 25 year olds vastly over-represented in the gym selfie department? I actually have no idea, so let’s go on a journey of discovery together next time.

 

 

A deviation: Art has all the nudes you need

On Wednesday I knew I’d have some time to kill before heading out to Hawthorn to watch Colossal (which is quite the take on the monster movie, if you’re interested!) so I decided to stop by the National Gallery of Victoria. Having read a little about it when it opened at the end of March, I wanted to check out their new free (don’t worry, this ain’t #SponCon) exhibition Love: Art of Emotion 1400-1800.

Truth be told, I’m not really an ‘art’ person. I’m more of a music/words/theatre type, but I don’t mind the occasional gallery visit. I’m very much looking forward to their Van Gogh exhibition which starts in late April, but I’m fairly awful at appreciating contemporary art. The Love exhibition is a bit of an odd bunch. It mostly consists of works from the Gallery’s existing collection, somewhat loosely connected to the idea of love. I knew a few pieces from the promotional material, but my main thought process was that if I was bringing together some early modern European pieces around a universal theme, I would do what I could to relate it to present day. And that made me suspect I could probably tie in some of the artworks on display to my writing on love, dating, and Tinder.

Turns out there’s a reason I’m not running a gallery. However, I found no shortage of amusement, mostly in the ‘Anticipation’ section. This section revolves around flirtation, seduction and danger. In the section I learned that the language of a fan could be just as direct as a right-swipe, mansplaining is found to be the truth universal, and everyone has always loved a nude.

My apologies for the photo quality – they were snapped on my phone, and the gallery keeps the light quite low. Also I’ve mined the labels as much as possible post-visit – there may be some wonkiness with translations or attributions.

Selfies are nothing new

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  1. Anthony van Dyck, Self-portrait, c. 1645
  2. Elizabeth Louise Vigée le Brun, The artist at work, 1830

Feeling a bit embarrassed about spending half an hour taking photos at slightly different angles to find the perfect profile photo? Some people like to think we have reached the depths of vanity with our selfie culture, but honestly, how long would it take to paint a self-portrait? Consider how many hours you would spend obsessing over the curve of your shoulder. Or whether you would look better in a diaphanous gown of blue or pink.
Who’s vain now?

Well, actually…

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  1. Cornelis Bega, The young hostess, 1650-54
  2. François Boucher, The music lesson, c. 1745
  3. Peter Paul Rubens, The Garden of Love, mid 17th Century
  4. François Boucher, The enjoyable lesson, 1748

Large parts of this exhibition was just representations of bored women on terrible dates – or just trying to do their job, hey.

I’m willing to admit that maybe it was just François Boucher who was fixated on women not being able to play a goddamn flute with their own hands thankyouverymuch, but golly, the ennui of these women. Every one of these men sounded like such a promisingly cute geek in their profile, and then gave you an 45-minute spiel on Star Wars lore when you confused Darth Malgus for Darth Nihilus in passing.

No one can make you a third wheel unless you let them

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Unknown, The Cradle of Love, c. 1816

Odd one out?
It’s time to get creative, and think of a group activity where no-one will notice you’re a little extraneous to their needs. Bowling is good, theme park visits less so. And everyone loves dancing – until a slow song comes on.

Pls send nudes
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Unknown (Deruta manufacturer), Dish, 1520-1530

A large part of what I learned touring this exhibition was that artists have long loved using ancient mythology as an excuse to paint some tits. This one’s a little different.
The label for this item discussed the production of pottery to celebrate marriages and romantic unions, sometimes forming part of the dowry (the markers on this particularly item doesn’t entirely explain the context of it’s creation). The exposure of the breast in this item is unusual, but it’s a fun idea to make him wait for nudes until he puts a ring on it.
(Don’t mess around with your digital security, ladies. For trusted folks only)

Never date a musician
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Jacques André Portail, Young man seated, playing a lute, 18th century

They’re moody and mysterious, sitting around on rocks and throwing you cheeky looks,  until they ruin the mood by playing Wonderwall at your best friend’s birthday party. And then there’s the constant fear of the Taylor Swift treatment when you break up.

I didn’t tend to take many photos of the devotional section of this exhibition, as I’m not really one for making fun of religion – particularly not on Easter weekend. This is but a small taster of the over 200 works on display for free in this collection at the NGV.
I hope you enjoyed this slight deviation, while I continue to sort through my biggest sample yet. I collected 13 data points on 200 subjects, not considering that I didn’t necessarily have the skills to mine that data particularly well as yet. But I will be back – with charts!

Tinder Trends Part 2: So Tell Me About Yourself

While you let the secondhand embarrassment of the above video sit with you for a bit, I want you to consider that the only difference between those vignettes and a Tinder bio? Is that one third of those men aren’t staring silently at the camera. Everyone struggles essentially putting the ‘Hey I’m a relatively normal human being who wants companionship’ out there in to the world – but at least Mr Refined Valley Dude knows what he’s about.

Once again, I’m concentrating on men (….because that’s what I’ve got set as my Tinder preference) but I think there’ll be some takeaway for women. In fact, I think this edition is going to be very common sense, but my favourite part of putting together the data for the column is just to demonstrating how low any woman’s expectations are going to be for what you write about yourself.

So here’s the first tip. Just write something.

I should note that this column is aimed at people who use Tinder as a dating app, rather than for facilitating hook-ups (which I know is what it’s designed for). I don’t do casual sex, so I can’t really give a lot of advice on the subject, and I feel like people who are just looking for a shag can probably get there on their own. For you guys, the only suggestion I would make, and this is the common sense of any Murderino*, is if they look like they have a body in the back of their car, or if they say something in chat that makes you suspect that they don’t respect bodily autonomy…don’t have sex with them. So keeping that in mind, unless you have the best bod in the world, and some plucky young lass is planning to use you only for that body, you’re probably gonna need just a little something in your bio to avoid an immediate left-swipe. And if you have anything, just anything, you’re doing better than 35% of my sample of 100 profiles.

A note here: I have been an unintentional hypocrite on this personal deal-breaker. If you de-activate your profile and then re-activate it, it wipes your bio. Go check if you’ve still got one!

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(Okay so this is not technically a pie chart. It’s a donut graph, which I have permission to use if I need to, plus I love any excuse to think about eating donuts. Bar charts do not evoke going to a bar)

Here’s the common sense:

If someone’s considering whether to swipe right, they might want to have an idea of how compatible you are, what you might have in common. The best way to get an idea? Knowing who someone is, what they’re looking for in a partner, and what their interests are.

Five per cent of men in my data could actually articulate all that.

Others came close. Six per cent outlined their interests, succinctly. Four per cent issued a laundry list of everything they liked.  Four per cent outlined what they’re looking for. Pretty much all those guys could be saved, with a little profile re-write.

Getting an idea of what someone is looking for is a good preview of your potential compatibility. A guy who’s looking for princess to look after? Not for me.  But that could be some woman’s dream guy. If you’re not sure about the whole Tinder thing, and you’re just hoping to meet some new people? Put it out there.

It doesn’t have to be strict. You might as well keep it light – research has shown your idea of what you’re looking for may mean nothing when it comes to who you match with (note that this research is based on RSVP, which is prescriptive when it comes to having users describe their ideal partners – with fields like hair colour, eye colour, body type, education level, personality type, political view, and religious affiliation).

You can get deep talking about interests and deal-breakers and all those things in chat or on a date after matching, bios are just a great way to rule you in or rule you out in that first round. Unless you’re kicking a baby or a dog in your pictures, if we have a few common interests and you haven’t said anything problematic in your bio, I’m probably going to swipe right.

Now.  Let’s outline how low a girl’s standards are going to be. Here’s some things I came across in my data:

‘The girls sayin’ “not into one night stands” or “not into netflix and chill” are totally into them [wink emoji]

An idea to try: when a woman tells you explicitly what she is and isn’t in to, believe her.

‘Won’t buy your taco’s But I will touch your butt!’

Por que no los dos tbh.

 ‘If you don’t believe in love and fairytales we probably won’t have much in common [heart emoji] Taylor Swift’

This message was somewhat undercut by the fact that one of his pictures is he and (presumably) a friend naked, with their backs to the camera, doing the shaka sign.

Outside this sample, I did have an example of using your bio to be really really gross that I probably need to share. I’m quoting this sucker in full.

‘Keep it simple and real. My life is a drama-free zone.

I’m in no rush, going with the flow and seeing where it leads. I like to think of women like cars. Used cars may have low mileage, been cared for, kept clean, or they may be abused, with visible and hidden damage. Then there are ex-rental cars, only suitable for short term use, troublesome and costly to maintain while offering minimal benefits. What I really want is a brand new car to start afresh, care for and travel many miles with!’

Admittedly it was kind of tempting to match with this guy who’s cruising Tinder for virgins just to link him to the car chase in Blues Brothers.

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After absolutely nothing at all, the biggest trend were bios that would send any woman possessing all her mental faculties to sleep.

‘Hi

I work in the transport industry’

‘6ft Tall

Eastern Suburbs’

Look honestly a boyfriend who’s not around much would probably be great for me, but I’m still going to need a bit more information. And height is not a personality feature.

You can be weird to get attention, or can seriously raise a woman’s curiosity by being a 38-year-old-man who’s ‘new to this whole internet thing’ (how? You’ve been in prison, right? Or trapped in an underground bunker?), but being genuine is always going to be the winner.

The rules for Tinder bios are basically the same as the rules for being a human being someone might want to talk to, and potentially eventually see naked.

  • Have something say for yourself.
  • Know what you want and what you like (being open to possibilities!)
  • Don’t be a fuckwit.

 

*If you listen to My Favorite Murder please @ me immediately.

Why I Call Myself a Romantic Realist

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*I attended a data analytics and visualisation workshop this week, and have been expressly forbidden from continuing to use pie charts. Bubble charts are where it’s at.

A quick note to explain the term

Sometimes my writing on Tinder can come off as a little cynical, but you’ll note underneath it all, I want people to do it right, because I want them to find love (even on a hook-up app). I am a romantic.
People expect women to be romantic. By no means is it always true, but there is an assumption. So what I’m saying is – I’m the kind of romantic who reads romance novels. I watch When Harry Met Sally… with alarming regularity. In fact, you can hook the Nora Ephron directly in to my veins, thanks.
But real life is infinitely more complicated than the happily ever after. The background I come from is not solely my story to tell, and given I write under my own name I don’t  want to expose real people, who still exist in a real marriage. But suffice to say that as I grew up, the friends I gravitated to were people a bit like me. For us the norm was divorce, single parents, step-parents and endless other domestic complications. Visiting a friend’s house and finding two parents who were loving and affectionate, who bantered instead of bickered, was like stepping in to an alternate universe. Why was no-one calling each other stupid or unreasonable?
So I’m a romantic. But I’m a realist. What does that mean? It means I truly believe in love, and believe it’s worth fighting for when you find it. Personally, I think it’s worth waiting for. But it also means that I know love can be fragile, and hard to find. And most of all – when it comes to love, actions speak louder than words. All the pretty words mean nothing, if you don’t act like it.

 

An Introduction, and Tinder Trends Part 1

An Introduction

The origin of the Tinder series lies with my good friends at the Sass Effect podcast; two ladies who are simultaneously the agony aunts and drunken uncles of the Sydney gaming scene. Tegan and Lee had enthusiastically discussed Tinder trends they’d noticed, and I’d dipped my toe in the app, much to the delight (and horror) of my Facebook friends when I reported back what I’d found. Bossy as ever, when they both moved on to committed relationships, I forcefully volunteered myself as their Tinder Correspondent. And being a huge nerd who has spent years in the research field, what better way to discuss a dating app than with data?

My choice to write pseudonymously was not because I cared about anyone knowing I was on an app designed to match people for casual sex. After all, at 30 years old (now 31) and single (still single), what business had I not being on Tinder? No, I had to make it clear that I was not actively dating, nor even right-swiping, because of my impending interstate move to Melbourne. Which my employer at the time was not aware of (it all worked out fine, they had plenty of notice and we only parted ways in February 2017 on very amicable terms). Turns out, by the way, that there is a huge grey area between ‘dating’ and ‘not dating’ available to exploit, although the haziness will not protect you from being hurt by people you care about.

In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Bracknell is seen as the embodiment of Victorian values. She’s highly conservative, earnest and overbearing. Basically, I couldn’t think of a better pseudonym to talk about a hook-up app. This fed in to my decision to name the blog (where my content will appear from now on) ‘Victorian Values’. Although I want to write under my own name, I thought the transition to my new life in Victoria fit nicely in with the tribute to Lady Bracknell. I can’t promise it will always be fluffy content about Tinder, but I solemnly swear I won’t be talking about a single thing she will approve of.

 

Tinder Trends Part 1: Animal Attraction

In the beta episode of Sass Effect, Tegan and Lee brought up the old chesnut of men posing with drugged-out tigers in their Tinder profile pictures. Hey, look, I travel to exotic destinations and have questionable ethics! What I noticed is that Tinder goes through waves of clichés. At one point it was snakes. My highly scientific process was to screenshot every animal I come across to see what the most popular Tinder animals are.

The results are below:
tinderanimals2

It may not shock you that almost half of all animal appearances (27 of a total 58) were dogs. This is a pretty solid life choice by the men of Tinder. My profile even mentions my wish to see photos of people’s puppies. The only tip I have to offer here? Don’t post a photo of a dog humping your leg. That is weird and I have seen it.

The next most popular animal to feature was fish. Mostly dead fish, in the hands of the masculine hero that plucked it from the water. Maybe if a lady is considering you sexually, don’t present her with the image of something smelly, slimy, and cold. Just a thought.

Cats, poor bastards, only managed equal representation to snakes (speaking of penis metaphors!). Obviously no-one’s trying too hard to appeal to the cat ladies of Instagram.

Things get a bit different but also a bit more alarming at the ‘two appearance’ mark. Kangaroos, horses and exotic lizards feature here. But then two separate men decided to post photos of themselves posing with dead feral pigs. That’s double the amount of alive pigs I saw on Tinder. One was even grinning away while holding the corpse’s jaws apart. Don’t be that guy.

The trend seems to be moving away from ‘tranquilised animal I posed with in Bali’ to ‘animal I actually killed’. And judging by the guy that just posted a series of photos of guns and one particular dog, I’m scared the major Tinder animal trends may end up converging.

It may not surprise you, but people who think it’s a good idea to show you pictures of dead wildlife in an attempt to charm the pants off you sometimes struggle to talk about themselves. Next time, I’ll discuss the problem of the biography.

Note: the original version of this column appeared on the Sass Effect website here