The title is a lie. Tinder has taught me nothing about German culture. The dating app has, however, helped me push Germans further into the judgmental box I already had them in.
I’m a Norwegian living in Hamburg. I have always felt a certain cultural distance between the two countries, but I have never been able to pinpoint the differences. Then I downloaded Tinder. After having gone through hundreds of Tinder profiles in both Oslo and Hamburg, I have found three specific Tinder phenomena that set the two cultures apart.
Until I came to Germany, I thought selfies were universal Tinder no-noes. Selfies are generally not accepted in Norway, mainly because it’s fishy when a person is not able to find one single photo taken by, let’s say, A FRIEND. In Germany, however, there’s a selfie inflation. It’s so difficult finding selfie-free profiles I’m no longer automatically left-swiping [rejecting] upon seeing one (a selfie would be an immediate deal-breaker on Tinder in Norway). Some selfies are particularly recurrent: the car selfie, the mirrorselfie, the topless selfie, the topless in the mirror selfie and, naturally, the duckface selfie (yes, men do them too). My favorite mocking object (yes, I take screenshots and show them to friends) is the self-contradictory I wasn’t aware the photo was taken selfie, in which, instead of looking into the camera, the person looks casually to the side (see illustration). So casual.
One phenomenon that I find just as entertaining as it is annoying is the German quote obsession. Ah, Germans love their quotes, especially the cliché-filled, self-important, theatrical ones:
Live your heart and never follow – male, 31 [come again?]
Don’t live in the past. Look ahead and live every day as if it was your last – Timo, 29 [wow, so original]
I dream, I work, I bleed. – Justin, 29 [bleed? That’s not cool.]
The best part is that, below the quote, they often manage to write something in the lines of “I’m looking for a girl who doesn’t take herself too seriously”.
Ironically, a large amount of the quotes have to do with uniqueness. As an example, I’ve seen the quote “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy!” in three different Tinder profiles. There’s nothing wrong with being like everyone else, but pretending you’re not is just awkward.
Germans are not entirely comfortable with being on Tinder. To be fair, the app is not very mainstream here, and many Germans think there has to be something wrong with you if you use an app for dating. What I find remarkable is that Germans feel the need to justify that they’re on Tinder on Tinder. Max Mustermann often devotes a substantial part of his 500 characters to explaining why he’s there:
My friends told me about Tinder and insisted I check it out, so here I am! [Reassuring to know it wasn’t your own idea]
Hey, I’m just here to get to know new interesting people! [God forbid if you were here to find a girlfriend or get laid]
The even more ashamed ones create separate Facebook accounts for Tinder only. Somehow, I feel spending time and energy on creating an anonymous Facebook account is more disturbing than being on Tinder in itself.
The most embarrassed ones, however, don’t even have photos, which goes against the entire concept of Tinder. Your name should be pretty fucking awesome if you expect girls to right-swipe [like] you based on that alone. Good luck with that.