It’s obvious to understand why. After all, people are more than 6 pictures and a bio no one reads.
Each one of us has gone to bed and woken up in the morning every day for decades. We have histories, families, internal battles, hopes for the future. But profiles — as we know them — force us to productize ourselves.
A Tinder profile isn’t all that different from, say, a product page on JCrew .com.
Pictures all-too-easily fail to capture the depth of our humanity.
And bios — which are becoming increasingly hidden in dating app interfaces — can only go so far in making us seem like less of a commodity.
But let’s face it: while dating apps are de-humanizing, the benefits still make them worthwhile for most people, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
How to Protect Yourself
Here’s how you can date online without hurting yourself in the process.
#1 Realize it’s not actually about you
There’s a major flaw in our brains. You can credit this flaw with being the reason dating apps are the way they are in the first place.
Thing is, we think our profile clearly shows us as we are.
And, when we view other people’s profiles, we think we’re getting a clear picture of who they are.
Neither of these are true.
The truth is that the profile format plays into biases in our brains that tend to extrapolate a great deal from small bits of information.
In particular, when we’re looking at our own dating profile, we subconsciously fill in tons of details that a stranger wouldn’t be able to.
For instance, if you’re a tall person, your brain shows you a tall person when you look at your own dating profile. It doesn’t even occur to you that your pics might be making you look shorter than you are.
In essence: what you’re seeing is not what strangers will see when they look at the same 6 pictures.
Our brains are wired to feel very confident that our profile represents us, and that we can find out everything we need to know from other people’s profiles.
But likely, strangers are guessing completely wrong about what you actually look like in person and what kind of person you are. And you’re guessing completely wrong about others.
The upside of all this is that, if you’re struggling to get Tinder matches, you shouldn’t think, “Oh crap, something must be wrong with me.” Because Tinder users were never swiping left on you; they were responding to your profile.
Your profile isn’t you.
You can easily change your profile and get a completely different response — without changing anything about yourself.
#2 Get real about how photos differ from real life
Something equally misunderstood is that cameras don’t capture reality exactly as it is.
Cameras make distortions if the lighting isn’t just right, because they lack the capability of interpreting uneven lighting and shadows.
But let’s get straight to the point.
Not every picture taken of you actually looks like you.
Unfortunately, when you look at any picture yourself, your brain sees you. Like, it puts together a giant mosaic of every time you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror since puberty.
But other people just see the pixels in front of them. And if the lighting or angle was unflattering to your features, they’re going to think you’re not that cute.
The worst part is it’s nearly impossible for someone to look at a picture of a stranger they deem unattractive and think, “Hm. Maybe this is just a bad picture of them, and they’re actually really good-looking in real life.”
We at Photofeeler get emails that say, “You know, I feel really bad giving this guy my honest feedback, because he clearly can’t help what he looks like.” Except: the guy she’s referencing got an 8/10 in attractiveness on all the other photos he tested.
This is all due, of course, to the brain flaw I mentioned earlier.
Because of these flaws in our thinking, we put waaaay too much stock in the validity of photos to tell us what people look like.
The reality is that pictures aren’t as informative as we think they are.
It also means that dating profiles aren’t as personal as you think they are.
Because, if someone doesn’t think your pics are attractive, it doesn’t automatically mean you are not attractive. Chances are, you just need more practice taking or choosing flattering pictures of yourself.
#3 Inject more humanity
By default, dating apps make you seem like an assembly-line commodity. If you want to counteract this, you have to swim against the tide.
Be mindful and inject humanity wherever and as often as you can. That might mean putting more effort into profile pictures than others appear to be doing — taking care to show your life, interests, and personality with your pics.
Or it might mean steering clear of hollow Tinder pick-up lines that never go anywhere new or meaningful.
#4 Demand better from dating app creators
Dating apps today are increasingly prioritizing knee-jerk judgments. They’re making it more and more difficult to see each other as fully-conscious people.
But at the end of the day, these companies are just trying to compete in a saturated market by giving people what they want.
Don’t like being de-humanized by dating apps? Show it with your attention, your dollars, and your feedback.
For instance, dating apps like Bumble, Hinge, and OkCupid haven’t yet hidden bios to the degree that Tinder has. Maybe you’d be better off taking your business there.
All in all, dating apps have obvious advantages for single people today, like being able to meet people outside of your existing social circle.
But due to a combination of the way online dating currently works and how we think about it, it can all-too-easily make us feel less valuable than we are.
We hope these ideas change your experience for the better.