Opinion: falling in love or falling in lust?

by Mozzified Contributor Reema K Lateef

Flicking through images of men. He’s too Hipster. He’s too FOB. Ooo he’s cute… but wait. Too old. When they’re not attractive, I swipe left for ‘no.’ When I finally find a guy who is “hot” enough, I swipe right for ‘yes.’ I wait for him to swipe ‘yes’ for me. “You’ve matched!” the screen says. “Yay.” I’m glad he found me just as attractive.

The concept is simple. The thrill is exhilarating.

What do I say, “Marry me?” or a casual “Hey! How are you?”

It’s three days later; I’ve talked to 25 guys, and feel no closer to marriage.

It felt like walking down the street, window shopping for men. Pointing to who is cute and who is not, based on an initial ‘instinct.’

Minder, or Tinder with an “M”, is modeled after an app that “bring[s] on images of seedy hookups and one-night stands.”

Assuring that you “only spend time with people you like,” Minder sees online chatting as replacing spending-time with someone. But can you really be spending time with someone from behind the screen of an iPhone (especially if the person is chatting with 10 other ‘potentials’ at the same time)?

Human compatibility is based on interpersonal connectivity, not on base desires.

Minder promises to, “lighten the mood and make it fun,” which entails making is “less socially awkward.” This is true, but why do we find interpersonal communication, face-to-face communication awkward?

I did feel empowered as I continued multiple conversations with guys because I had removed the middleman. I was “free.”

But I was free from oversight of a mediator, yet shackled by my conceptions that the prettier, the better. Was I any different than my Desi/Arab/immigrant Aunty who judged a man by his occupation or by the color of his skin?

Minder challenges the current system by questioning, “Who has time to go meet everyone your auntie recommends for you?” Yes, aunties can have poor recommendations at times, but removing the human mediator from the equation, however, leaves you to your own desires. This person represents a void you want to fill. So he becomes who you want him to be, instead of who he is.

First impressions of the opposite gender are inevitably based on looks, but this is an app, which is predicated upon swiping ‘yes’ or ‘no’ based on a picture.

A “match” is made only if both participants think the other meets his or her minimum standard of ‘hotness’. On Minder, compatibility is based upon mutual desire, not mutual attraction. It’s falling in lust, not falling in love.

To see if we could find love on Minder, a few of us at Mozzified set out to explore the app. I reached out to a few of my colleagues (we used pseudonyms) who had been using the app and asked them to share their perspectives.

Q1) Have you used dating apps or websites (Muslim or non-Muslim) in the past? How does Minder compare?

Sara: I’ve used both. I think Minder is a little overwhelming in that there are so. many. options. Every time I’d open the app, there’d be dozens of guys to swipe through. I feel like after a while my choices were so so random. I barely looked at the profiles or the pictures. I wish there were more options to filter.

Ayesha: I’ve used Minder and Happn in the past. Minder is good in that it narrows down to only Muslims. which is a big thing. But if you are meant to click with someone, you’ll find them on any site.

Rana: No, I have never used a dating app prior to using Minder.

Adam: Minder has a more genuine feel to it compared to other dating apps. I haven’t come across any spammers or bots (phishing).

Q2) Did you feel like you were being yourself behind the screen of the phone?

Sara: Yes, absolutely. I’m kind of introverted in person (at least until you get to know me), so if anything, I think meeting people online lets me be truer to myself than if I meet them in person.

Ayesha: Yes I did. I like online/app type of ways of meeting people because instead of your looks, they are forced to focus on your words and thoughts.

Rana: I felt like I was being myself, however I was consciously highlighting and promoting the aspects that I liked about myself. When you meet a person face-to-face their perception of you is often in their control. However, this online dating platform gave me the power to choose what aspects of myself the person would be more aware of by talking about those aspects more. So I was being myself, but highlighting parts of myself that maybe people in person would not notice as much.

Adam: Yes. Who else could be behind the screen?

Q3) Were you judging people the same way you would in person?

Sara: Absolutely not. People grow on me. That’s not really possible with Minder, when people cease to exist if I swipe left, haha.

Ayesha: No, online sites and Minder allow you to get to know a person rather than base your judgements solely on looks.

Rana: No, I most definitely was not. I’m not superficial, but the first thing I saw was their face. In a person-to-person interaction, a person’s physical appearance is accompanied with their thoughts and ideas that is verbalized or their body language or their mannerisms. However, with Minder, I just had a headshot. The more profiles I looked at, the more I found myself dissecting their physical appearances.

Adam: No, my objective wasn’t to find a date or companion.

Q4) How does in-person dating compare to online dating?

Sara: I think online dating is only a “first step,” or an introduction. I don’t consider it dating until I meet up with someone in person.

Ayesha: I think online dating is better because you get to know the person more before you meet them in person. You also appreciate meeting them more if you are forced to wait and get to know their personality more.

Rana: Human dating, for me, includes a third-person mediator that assists me in making a correct judgment about the guy I am dating. Online dating did not include a system of “checks and balances” for me that made sure I was not falling in lust.

Adam: I prefer the human element of interaction.

Q5) What made you swipe right? What made you swipe left?

Sara: Honestly, towards the end, it was so random. As I mentioned, I was flooded with options every time I opened the app.

Ayesha: Education.

Rana: I swiped right because a guy looked hot and swiped left if he didn’t meet my standards. But even though I swiped right because of his physical appearance, that did not mean that I continued to talk to him. I might have made my initial decision upon his looks, but I did not continue to get to know him if he was a jerk or was not critically engaging.

Adam: It was actually random, but people who had catchy one-liners, a more adventurous or classy picture, were more interesting.

Minder is one of several Muslim innovations that is changing the way that young Muslims live their lives. Yes, the app is heading in the right direction by creating a much-needed Muslim dating platform. However, the app attempts to “Muslimize” Tinder, which has become a space for hooking up. Is there a way that we can develop Muslim dating apps that are based in finding a companion rather than just a hook-up?

While we may need a revitalization of our parents’ style of finding a spouse, mimicking online dating apps might be one step too far.

Perhaps an alternative is to replace a “rishta” auntie with a good friend.

Although Minder, J-Swipe, or Bumble are online dating apps catering to specific groups, they are still created in the image of Tinder, and the idea behind them is the same.

Reema is currently a student at Zaytuna College, where she is the Editor-in-Chief of Olea Press, Zaytuna’s Student Newspaper. Follow Reema @ReemaJaan15.