Tech + Health

03.17.14

Tinder’s Celebrity VIP Club

As if celebrities needed further glorification, Tinder will now help them verify their VIP status when looking for love. Swipe left for lame, say the dating app’s users.

Social media sites have long been lauded for bridging the gap between A-listers and mere mortals, but yet another app has just decided to introduce special treatment for celebrities: Tinder. Yep, your trusty assistant for local pump ‘n’ dumps recently announced that, as a result of its famous users complaining that they weren’t recognizable enough on the app, something akin to Twitter’s little blue tick is on the cards.

Tinder’s CEO Sean Rad explains that the planned verification program will enable “celebrities to enter [it] in a different way.” Frustrated by nay-saying swipers who refused to believe the universe had been bountiful enough to offer them the opportunity of digi-mingling with stars as incandescent as Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriweather, Rad decided that identifying the almost-nobodies from us total nobodies could wait no longer.  “We’ve had celebrities reach out to us frequently,” he says, which begs a whole heap of questions, namely: what actual celebrities are taking time out of their day to a) cruise Tinder without fear of getting caught and b) call up and complain about not getting special treatment?  

I mean, if you want to mix with normals then welcome to the party, but if your idea of being an everyman requires some kind of badge to highlight your superiority, it’s probably for the best that you continue to hang out in the VIP area of broken dreams. Celebrity Rehab better get ready for a whole new wave of D-listers fighting off addictions to little round blue things.

Because Tinder and its social media counterparts are no longer levellers, but rather just new outlets intent on placing celebrities high upon their virtual pedestal as the rest of us scrabble around in the dating dirt. “The magic of Tinder is that when you have a match, you don’t know anything about that person, and people love the anonymity,” says 30-year-old Tindee Denis Fabre. “It seems like this move toward verification was only announced to make the company look sexier, and to make people believe they have the chance to meet a star. It’s a joke.”

While verification does make a little more sense for sites like Twitter or Facebook, there are so many potential pitfalls for its use on a hook-up app that its creators seriously should have been screaming no-no from the get-go. This just looks like one giant invitation for weird web-stalkers to get their swiping little mitts on the first famous person they can locate within a 10-mile radius, before selling on their celebrity sexcapades to page six as soon as humanly possible.

If your idea of being an everyman requires some kind of badge to highlight your superiority, it’s probably best you just continue to hang out in the VIP area of broken dreams.

The entire idea of a verification nation is a bizarre one, mostly because every social media site seems to be slowly but surely clambering on board the idea that celebrities should only be using them if there’s a velvet rope in place. What they have apparently forgotten, though, is that without stacks of users offering up their likes or follows in the first place, they wouldn’t have enough support to be picked out as one of the ‘special people’ at all. Everyone knows the chemical formula to stardom is 1% actually being great and 99% having people tell you you’re great, so it’s kind of strange that celebrities are being encouraged to hang out away from ordinary people on platforms that are meant to be for everybody.

“Verification is an awful idea,” says 21-year-old student and social media-ite Emi Suzuki. “It just inflates the ego of the verified user and allows them to think that their dick is longer with every follow, like or match they get.”

Harsh, but probably fair.

Another badly thought out aspect of the verification game is the thinking behind who makes the grade, which seems arbitrary at best and elitist at worst, mostly because it reinforces the notion that the most bloated egos on the social media sphere are the worthiest of attention, and those who succeed in less glossy careers like academia, or medicine, or philanthropy, don’t deserve a fraction of this acclaim. Twitter’s little blue tick was once a valuable tool in identifying accounts from the likes of news organizations (where copycats could be seriously detrimental), but for reality TV contestants, or pageant participants? If these companies want to seem like they’re awarding credibility and talent, this surely is not the way to go about it. Follower numbers should be an indication of the fact you’re interesting enough to make people give a crap about what you’re saying (in 140 character bursts at least), but the whole concept of the site itself picking out its ‘worthiest’ users feels like a major marketing ploy.

I can kind of understand if celebrities want a social media site that exclusively allows them to talk to their famous friends, but needing their status pointed out on every public platform that they have freely chosen to use just seems a bit wrong. Tinder, Twitter, Facebook, Keek and whichever other apps insist on creating ‘safe spaces’ for famous people should look at how they made it big in the first place, because the millions of unverified randos responsible for their success should be valued at least equally, if not higher, than the musings of the occasional celebrity.

Disclosure: Tinder is owned by The Daily Beast's parent company, IAC.