This weekend we’ll have to decide who will take the helm of this great ship we call Australia. Will it be the ultra-insecure, ultra-defensive, yet somehow ultra-smug, nightwatchman who holds onto the title? Or will Billy the grand undisputed king of yawn finally come through? Maybe you’ll vote for the red racist, or the guy who likes the weed? Oh and then there’s Trump-Lite or Diet Trump. Trump Zero? Anyway, the guy with the memes. Decisions, decisions Australia.
As for me—well, living in Melbourne’s inner north, I fear I’ve isolated myself just a tad from those whose political views may differ to mine. So, in order to place my finger on the broader political pulse of my fellow man, I did what anyone would do and took the totally non-psychopathic route of creating four fake Tinder personas, to see which would be most successful over the course of seven days.
My first creation was Brent: a solid bloke who loves a beer with the boys, listening to Hilltop Hoods, and is definitely not racist.
Brent is a patriot. He loves this sun-kissed land with all his heart, and if you don’t then you can get the fuck out you mongrel. I didn’t expect much for Brent, but he did end the week with 36 matches, which is a pretty solid clean-up I guess. Having said that, very few of those matches actually responded to his efforts of courtship. Oh well: sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.
Next up was Malcolm, whose three main identifying features are Tarocash, AirPods, and daddy’s money.
I really got into character with this one and was surprised by how much of an absolute conceited dick I could be while still receiving pretty positive responses.
At first I was having a bit of fun with it, but that soon faded and then I began to feel a bit yuck about the whole thing. I thought people would treat these personas as the jokes they were, but instead I was getting sincere messages from unsuspecting people just wanting to connect with another human. The people on the other side of the screen weren’t just pixels, they were real, and I was playing with their emotions.
Then again, Malcolm is a rich Liberal douche, so whatever. You get what you sign up for I guess.
Feeling very dirty from bringing Malcom into the world, I needed to cleanse my pallet. Enter Narayan—AKA: every dude in Northcote.
Narayan really surprised me, and was by far my most successful creation with five matches within the first 60 seconds of existing and a total of 154 matches over the week. I’m still stunned from how easy it is to score woke points in Melbourne. Just insert a bunch of buzzwords into your speech and all of a sudden you’re Gandhi. I was being incredibly cringey and people were just rolling with it.
I’d open with “Hey, you seem pretty cool. You know what else is cool?” They’d usually respond by asking what was cool, and I’d be like “the environment” or “saving the planet” or “bringing down the patriarchy”. And nine times out of ten I’d get something like “fuck yeah it is”.
Also, the stoner talk on Narayan’s profile was next level.
Jacob is the backbone of this damn country. He’s also the guy who proved that the ladies really do like tradies. Although at 138 matches he ended up with slightly less than Narayan, he did get more messages.
After 48 hours of juggling four profiles though, it began to get exhausting keeping up with all the conversations. Another issue that arose very quickly was being caught. See, Melbourne is a small town dressed in big city shorts. Everyone knows everyone, and throughout the week I received a few screenshots of my alter egos from friends and acquaintances along with messages of concern. Concern that my photos were being used to catfish; concern that I was a psychopath; and a couple of people who figured it was for a story.
In the end it all just became a bit too much. Each profile was successful in scoring dates—shit, even Patriot Brent got one—but you can’t just open with “hey let’s get a drink”; you have to exchange a few messages first before you get to the date part, and seriously, juggling four profiles is fucked. Tinder is fucked.
At the end of this experiment in social politics my editor insisted I go on at least one actual date to round off this fine piece of journalism. Originally I thought: "Let’s go as far away from my own political leanings as possible and date a One Nation voter." But then I thought: "What will I gain from that?" They’re not even interesting. No—for this I’d have to investigate the intelligent enemy; the one that knows better, yet still chooses the path of evil. I must date…
A Liberal. Dun dun dun.
Before we go on, I want to make clear the woman who eventually accepted my invitation was totally onboard with this article. She asked that I keep her face out of it, but was otherwise totally game.
Back to the date. I began by asking myself, where does a basic douche go on a date? My first instinct was Gold Class at Crown, and maybe a few cocktails at Asian Beer Café beforehand. That’s when I had the epiphany that I'm a basic douche, because I actually really like both of those things. But anyway, it's at Asian Beer Café where I begin to quiz “Bronwyn” on her political leanings.
"Look, I’m really worried about African gang violence," she says while I sip my much needed beer. At first I think she’s serious but soon realise it’s a joke.
Time to get serious, why was she really voting Liberal? “I think a strong economy is important,” she says. “There’s a lot of problems in our own backyard that we should be focussing on sorting out before we're confidently able to reach out an olive branch—what sense is there in bringing more people onto a sinking ship? Fix the ship first, and then we can focus on other things.”
Bronwyn is 24. She’s intelligent, witty, and doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is refreshing. When asked about what she thinks of Scott Morrison she almost chokes on her beer. “He’s great, it’s like Howard all over again," she says, her voice dripping in sarcasm. "The bloody wonder years."
"Do you miss Malcolm? [Turnbull]" I ask.
"Of course," she responds. "We all do."
After a couple of drinks we leave and make our way to see Detective Pikachu as my love for Pokémon only slightly outweighs my hate for Ryan Reynolds. Unfortunately all Gold Class sessions are sold out, so we're forced to go to the LUX Cinemas at Melbourne Central *shudder*.
As the movie begins I quickly ask her what she thinks of Bill Shorten.
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.