Most people download Tinder optimistically, but after months of withering matches and sleepwalking conversations, you might be motivated to join forces with a few of your friends and hope to run into a few other people suffering from a lack of adventure. This is where Tinder Social comes in handy: You tag a couple people you know on Facebook and form a "group," and other groups can examine your group and decide if they want to swipe right. If the interest is mutual, you're dropped into a massive group chat where you can coordinate whatever you want—like, for instance, an orgy.
Here's the thing: I recently moved to Los Angeles, and I have a limited social life here, so even if I wanted to try Tinder Social, I don't know who I'd bring along. A few weeks ago, I came up with the incredibly stupid idea to use Tinder Social with a "group" of "friends" who were really just different versions of me. Through a combination of burner phone numbers and fake email addresses, I constructed four Tinder profiles, each with specific pictures of me that represent a radical extension of who I am. Then I united them in one Tinder Social group.
Maybe my trolling would lead to some fun new friendships; maybe I'd learn which shade of my personality is most relatable to the people of Los Angeles; or maybe I'd just give some people a surreal experience. Either way, it's time to meet our cast.
Tess discovered rap music in college, and nothing has been the same since. Roughly 80 million of the 226 million Spotify streams of Drake's "Too Good" are because of him, and when he's not ruining Future concerts at (seemingly) every festival in North America, you can find him calling J. Cole trash on Twitter. Tess loves being outside, working out, Crying Jordans, Twitter DMs, and having more money than all of his friends. Nobody has seen Tess's eyes since 2014, and he really needs to stop saying "fam."
(This photo was taken after I totaled my car. The rental company gave me a Camaro while it was in the shop, and by the time I gave it back, I could actually start to feel myself turning into Tess, which was terrifying.)
Tyler gets really quiet when other people start talking about sex. He's gotten by on borrowed anecdotes from Reddit, but it's always a stressful experience. Tyler is doing his best to hide a deep distrust of women in the bowels of his brain, but unfortunately that's only going to keep percolating as long as he believes that impassioned soliloquies on corporatized political systems and the superiority of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless serve as charitable conversation. His preppy regalia grew out of a couple years raiding $60 button-downs at Urban Outfitters. He has a chest-piece from his Warped Tour days that he keeps well-hidden.
Brandon is 26 and still lurks 4chan. He deletes his browser history with the consistency and precision of a Navy SEALS strike team, and most of his sexual experiences have come from provocative Counter-Strike sprays. He has found a quiet sanctuary of insulated white men on the internet, and he's not coming out no matter what you say.
(I took this picture when I was doing a story in Japan. Almost as soon as we landed, I dropped about $60 on a hentai porn towel. I call her Yuki-chan. No matter how old or mature I get, there's still a little bit of Brandon in me.)
This is just me. I changed my bio because there's no way in hell I'm letting a bunch of strangers on the internet see what's written on my actual Tinder bio.
So that's our crew—a real murderer's row. I'm not sure that Luke, Tyler, Tess, and Brandon would ever hang out in real life, but at one point or another, they've all represented some exaggerated version of me. Tonight, they'll hit the streets together.
Honestly, at this point, I thought the story would fall apart, and I'd have to come up with some conclusion about how nobody matched with me because people generally don't have time for this kind of foolishness. But thankfully the people of Los Angeles absolutely delivered.
The first people I matched with were a couple Scandinavian girls who (I assume) were visiting California for the summer. Fantastic! Unfortunately, they almost immediately saw through my façade.
Most of the people I connected with were immediately suspicious that they were talking to one person across four different accounts. I suppose everyone's seen their fair share of Catfish now, and no one's playing around anymore.
My favorite were the people who went out on a limb and asked if Brandon, Tyler, Tess, and I were quadruplets. How gullible do you have to be to think that four burner Tinder accounts—with different ages attached—means you're talking to quadruplets?
It was pretty difficult to convince anyone to hang out. Elaborate internet jokes, I suppose, are great in theory but rarely lead to actual rewards. The closest I got to a real rapport was when I matched with a few UCLA students who were amused and then promptly shut me down. You know what's worse than getting rejected? Getting four versions of yourself rejected at once.
However, my favorite interaction came with Tara and Sam (not their real names), who appeared to be in the same Tinder Social group despite not really knowing each other. When we swiped right on each other, Tara was in the midst of trying to woo Sam—who was genuinely perturbed by the fact that he was suddenly in a group chat with four people who looked exactly alike. This combination of narratives resulted in a truly outstanding instance of lost-in-translation weirdness.
So me and the boys didn't end up meeting anybody—we were rejected a humiliating 28 times. But that's OK. We're used to striking out on Tinder. By the way, it's important to know that if you follow in my footsteps and create your own friends for Tinder Social, you might end up getting some weird messages on Facebook from people you know in real life.
All told, managing my fake Tinder Social crew was the most fun I've ever had on the app. Maybe that says more about living in a new city and having enough time on your hands to distract yourself with dumb social games, but I don't know. There's so much posturing on social media, and it's never more apparent than when you confront people trying to look as good as possible with something incredibly silly. In moments like that, you realize you regret ever taking Tinder seriously.
Follow Luke Winkie on Twitter.