Since I became aware of Penn’s standing in the Cardi B “Swipe-Off” competition, I suppressed my shame and reinstalled my less-than-savory Tinder account. While I had an account before the competition, I used it more as a tool to occasionally spy on male undergraduates at Penn who use Tinder rather profusely. Like myself, many students did not even realize that Penn was in the running for this competition until the contestant schools were narrowed down to the Top 16. Our unknowing success is a testament to how much Penn students use Tinder on a daily basis.
Partly fueled by my disappointment with the Spring Fling lineup, I became so invested in bringing Cardi B to Penn that I even purchased the premium version of Tinder for one month so I could swipe without limits. Before beginning my right-swipe bonanza, I left a small disclaimer in my bio that I was only using the app to partake in the competition. It was my hope that those who happened to match with me would realize that I was not seriously using the app. But unfortunately, this was out of my control.
A week and 1,171 matches later, my inbox was full of greetings and dull pickup lines from 18- to 22-year-old Tinder users within a one-mile radius. While I did not respond to 98 percent of the messages, I did take it upon myself to read some of them. A good handful of them were comments on my ethnicity, some of the funnier ones I recall being “Asian Persuasion” and “What ethnicity are you? It is beautiful (sic).”
But putting aside the objectifying, inappropriate, and/or racial commentary, many of the incoming messages were from ordinary men just shooting their shots. At this point, I started to feel bad about the whole thing. I knew that I was wasting a lot of people’s time trying to win a competition unknown to anyone outside the Penn bubble. Other Penn students even ridiculed users’ appearances online, in an attempt to elicit reactions on the Facebook meme page. And to only add to my guilt, several users followed up with me asking whether we won the concert, even after Penn was long eliminated from the final round.
Much of the blame should be on Tinder for devising a marketing strategy like a “Swipe-Off” competition, which would inevitably lead to students swiping right only for the sake of winning the concert. It’s unfortunate that a group of college students essentially hijacked a legitimate — although sometimes disparaged — dating app that many people use as a medium to actually meet partners. This competition gave many regular Tinder users false hope and took a hit on many egos given the lack of responses from new matches.
The only benefit I see from this competition was that it brought together Penn students during a stressful time with midterms and summer internship application deadlines. Swiping on Tinder was also an entertaining study break, especially as it seemed that half the undergraduate population was on it at the same time.
Nonetheless, Penn ended up losing the Cardi B competition. In the process, I personally lost $9.99 and was reported and blocked indefinitely from Tinder. So if you ask me whether it was worth swiping for Cardi, I would certainly say it was not.
Editor's Note: A representative from Tinder reached out to Jennifer the day after this column was published online, informing her that her account has now been reinstated.
JENNIFER LEE is a College sophomore from Fairfax, Va. studying economics. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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