“Talk Bernie to me,” shouted no one ever on a dating app, and yet that is happening: a very small army of self-motivated young women are using Tinder, Bumble, and all the other hellish, spiritually depleting find-love-quick programs on your telephone to campaign for Bernie Sanders. What’s it like to be on the receiving end of that, we wondered?
It’s tough to tell exactly how many people are using Tinder to stump for Sanders; from initial reports, it seems to be entirely women in major cities, corresponding with men. Fewer of them all the time, too, since Tinder locked the accounts of two women over the weekend who were sending pro-Sanders spam, instead of using Tinder as the good Lord intended it: to facilitate a profoundly depressing round of after-work drinks with someone who really wants you to know his ex was a model.
We reached out to one man who had been Bernied at on Bumble to get his impressions — only to have the same thing happen on Tinder while we were mid-interview. We’ll call him Luke, which is his name. Here, in brief, are Luke’s impressions.
Jezebel: This seems like a weird phenomenon, right?
Luke: It definitely seems like a weird phenomenon, although I was unaware of it being one until Emma [Jezebel’s editor, you know her] contacted me today... In recounting the story, I have to say that the circumstances through which she exhorted me were just as strange, but I will focus on the campaign.
From here, Luke explained that he’d mutually swiped with a lady on Bumble, and that she messaged him first (as are the rules in that app). They had what Luke characterizes as “a pleasant conversation,” at the end of which Luke asked for her number. She declined, asking to stick to Gchat. Luke asked if she wanted to have a drink; she “tentatively agreed,” he says, but only after a video chat. Luke said he was free right now, but that didn’t work for her.
Luke: She said she’s too engrossed in the democratic debate, “Vote Bernie.”
Eventually, the two did manage to video chat, but Luke said he wound down the conversation after it became clear she wasn’t interested in meeting IRL. The following day, to his surprise, he received further Gchat messages. They offer a fascinating window into how this whole thing works.
Jezebel: Did you feel bummed out that you were essentially the subject of a one-woman voter drive? Amused? Totally confused?
Luke: [Did not immediately respond because he was in the middle of having it happen to him again]
Luke: This just in. The campaign is getting stronger.
That’s very similar to the wording that got a Tinder user in New Jersey kicked off the service, as Reuters reported. That’s probably because the horny and disgruntled Tinder users she’d swiped upon were reporting her. Luke didn’t do that, but nor was he all that pleased.
Luke: This one is quite different than the last. Far less personal, far more spammy, far less convincing. That being said, I think there’s a lot of “weird” shit that is facilitated through the use of dating apps, the least of which is campaigning. However, it definitely does feel out of the ordinary to use it as a tool for canvasing political beliefs. In my experience there is plenty of ideology pushed on dating apps, but never quite to this extent. While it still feels a tad deceptive, I respect that these women care enough about something important for the demographic that uses these apps that they are using it to push their agenda. And if I end up voting for Hillary, I can appreciate that they cared about the race that much because it is important.
Jezebel: Yes, but are you bummed?
Luke: Am I bummed that I have now been the subject of this twice? No. Amused? Absolutely. I think a lot of people use dating apps out of boredom so it’s definitely interesting and hilarious to see it turned into an outlet for something like politics rather than mindless swiping.
Jezebel: While we have [your Tinder non-date] on the line, can you ask her a couple things for me? Like if she ever uses Tinder for non-Bernie purposes?
Jezebel: Huh. OK. Can you ask her if she thinks she’s won some votes this way? (She has definitely not won any votes this way)
Jezebel: What an interesting thing to take it upon yourself to do!
Luke: I definitely agree. So I asked her how she decided to do it. She said she saw an article and wanted to be a part of it.
Well, all right! This has been an interview with a man who was campaigned at by Bernie Sanders fans in dating apps. If you have any experience with this phenomenon—if someone used OKCupid to persuade you to vote Trump, even—please let us know in the comments.