My Tinder Experiment – & Its Discontents

My recent little experiment involving Tinder lifts the veil on more than I bargained for

"When you go looking for the truth, be prepared to find it..."
“When you go looking for the truth, be prepared to find it…”

“When you have eliminated the probable, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
-Sherlock Holmes

“When you go looking for the truth, be prepared to find it.”
-African Proverb

The longer I delve into the world of dating and mating in 21st century Black America, the more I learn that I have a lot TO learn. Last month, as a result of numerous conversations with YouTube Black Love dating sensation “Saint Kevin” Samuels about his daily runnings on Tinder, your correspondent decided to put on his dating scientist’s hat and try the apex predator of the dating app and online dating website world out for himself.

What I would discover, would be nothing short of seismic.

It may be a cliche’ of book authors and writers to say when interviewed, that they “learned a lot” – but as someone who’s been writing for nearly a decade and a half and is knee-deep in the process of writing three books on dating and mating in Black American life simultaneously – I can say without any fear of reprisal or rebuke, that I have learned a heck of a lot about the state of our times today.

After thinking things over quite a bit in light of recent events of which I recount below, I’ve decided to share both my findings and their reactions, from Black women and Black men alike, in today’s column – and yes, I will be including this column as a stand alone chapter in “The Book of Obsidian, Vol. 2”. It’s just that important.

I think you’ll agree.

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IT’S ALL “SAINT KEVIN”‘S FAULT
As I noted above, my little social experiment on Tinder got started with Samuels. We’ve been tight for the past few years, and over the past year in particular, we’ve talked on the phone on an almost daily basis. Earlier this year, he would casually send me pics of the “matches” he would receive on Tinder; they were almost always seriously overweight to flatout obese Black women, though relatively young – I’d say ranging from the mid to late twenties. Samuels, known for his svelte, tall frame and impeccable appearance, would often be appalled by the seemingly unending deluge of hefty ladies trying to hit him up.

Early on – and this would happen perhaps, once a week or so – I would simply chalk it up to our usual chopping it up sessions. But early last month, he sent me yet another round of pics and this time, I wasn’t able to access them, seeing as though I use a Blackberry for my primary communication. Sending the links to the profile pics to my desktop computer, I found that I needed to creat an account on Tinder to view them – and then, the idea struck me like a bolt from the blue: “Why not run an experiment of your own?”. After all, this would be the perfect time to answer some of the hottest “questions” floating in and around the Black Manosphere (and the wider Black social media at large) for years now.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

Posting up pics that anyone who’s followed me on Black social media is well aware of, and adding very little in the way of my profile, within minutes my Tinder profile was up and running. Because of the very nature of the way Tinder works – “swiping right or left” to indicate “yes” or “no” to the profiles that you see and it all being based on mere seconds of seeing a picture – I thought it the perfect way to put to the acid test a number of major assumptions that I’d been hearing for years. Setting the search parameters for women aged 35-55 (more on this in a bit) and for a 25 mile radius of my hometown of Philly, I was ready to roll in no time.

All I had to do now, was wait.

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TWO RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Now, to the questions I wanted to explore. I decided, to keep the experiment as tightly focused and managable as possible, to deal with only two this go around: one, as to whether there was any real world merit to the (Black) Manosphere idea, that if you were a “Non-Select Guy” that you had absolutely no chance in online dating and especially such a monster dating app like Tinder, where “Jawline Chads” and “Select Fuckboys” were cleaning up with the ladies. This idea is very strong, not only within the Black Manosphere itself, but its White counterpart as well, and taken as gospel by both its denizens and rank and file.

And two, turning to many Black women online who bristle at the idea of older Black men preferring younger (Black) women to date and mate with, that instead they/we should “date age appropriately”. Which is taken to mean, that older Black men should stick to dating only older Black women. After conducting a few surveys on Facebook and Instagram on the matter, I got responses from thousands of Black women telling me that older Black men in their late 40s through mid 50s should focus on Black women in their mid 30s to mid 50s (and preferably the latter). This notion is part and parcel of the idea of “staying in your lane” that I’ve written about previously (“The “Stay In Your Lane” Double Standard” Sep 1, 2020, Negromanosphere.com) and which again, would give me a very good chance to put to the acid test. What I wanted to know was, exactly what does “staying in your lane” look like – in real time? It sounds great in the abstract; but does it pass muster out in the real? I was going to find out.

Armed with my two principal research questions, I waited for the response…

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TIGHTEN YO CHINSTRAP
I didn’t have to wait long to get a sense of the shape of things to come, pardon the pun. Within 72 hours of posting my profile on Tinder, I got no less than half a dozen match results, and all from non-Black women to boot. None of them were rotund, sourfaced, or had profiles that read more like warnings to hazardous materials than anything warm, inviting or informative about the individual. Among the early respondents was an Asian lady in her mid 30s who appeared to be a single mom of a young boy and posted pics standing with him on the beach in a bikini; and a friendly blonde lady solidly in her mid-50s who actually reached out to chat a bit.

But, being something of a natural skeptic myself, I still waited a few more days to see what if anything else would happen. By week’s end, more matches started to roll in – and so did the Sistas, again, pardon the pun.

Ranging in age from the mid-40s to the mid-50s, to a Sista, they were ALL quite fat – several were flatout obese. We’re talking with the big arms and shoulders, the big midriffs, you name it – and quite a few of them had that “large and in charge” attitude that Black women writ large have become notorious for, too. Several reminded me of “mama” from the cult-film classic “Soul Food” – not quite the Mom I’d Like To You-Know-What, if you know what I mean. These ladies wouldn’t be mistaken for Ms. Lisa Ann even if you controlled for race.

On the other side, I got a stream of additional non-Black female matches ranging in ages from mid 30s to mid-50s – and I gotta tell ya, they were heads and tails better than what I could get in Black America. For starters, there wasn’t a “BBW” among them – all of them were in fantastic shape, especially considering the fact that we’re looking an average of 40 or so for these ladies. One of them is a flight attendant in her early 50s and would easily put every single Black woman in my matches to shame. Then there’s the 40-something lady who’s a stompdown head turner. Or the sporty 40-something blonde with a pixie cut. Or the 30-something party girl – sure, she’s got some ink and looks like she likes rock music, but if it comes down to her or the 50-something sista who reminds me of Michael Strahan, I’m rocking on with Becky the Party Girl all day, every day.

There was the sista who reminded me of one of the Duras sisters from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”; there was the sista who seriously put into doubt the idea that wearing the color black “makes you look smaller” (no seriously, she was THAT big); and there was the sista who posed for a selfie in a bathroom with the not so cute looking tats and who had clearly seen better days (she was in her latter 40s). Compare and contrast that to the non-Black and to be brutally frank, White, ladies who were not only older than them on average, but were a far sight more attractive AND nicer, friendly, more approachable.

If you’re a guy faced with these kind of options, what would you do?

By the end of the second week of my little experiment, I had amassed nearly two dozen matches and felt that I had more than enough to answer my two research questions. Now, it was time to present my findings – and that’s when the fun really begins…

SHAMELESS PLUG AD BREAK: Like what you’re reading now? Wait till you see my very first book, “The Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman”! Here’s YOUR chance to help me bring the dream to life, by supporting “The Book of Obsidian Fundraising Campaign”! All the details are over at GoGetFunding.com. Now, back to the article!

LADIES FIRST
Since my little experiment was all Kevin’s fault, I decided to share with him what I was doing, what I discovered and whether it would be OK for me to post my findings on his private forum on Facebook. With his blessing, I proceeded to do so, last month. Bracing myself for impact, I was just convinced that the ladies of his group would surely excoriate me and call me everything but a child of God for daring to post such a thing in their presence, and having the unmitigated gall to do a side by side comparison of Black and non-Black women.

But that is not what happened at all.

Without divulging the names of the ladies who saw, read and responded to the findings of my little experiment, they were unanimous in saying that they couldn’t deny or refute the evidence, and wouldn’t attempt to defend the Black women who did such a poor showing on the world’s foremost dating app. They said that they understood completely if I or Black men like me kinda hopped the fence in the face of, to be frank, such relatively poor options.

I had to say that I was taken aback by their response; I was fully expecting a full-throated defense of the Sistahood by the Sistahood, come Hell or highwater. But that’s not what happened; instead, the responses were mature, lucid and refreshingly candid. I can see why they are in Samuels’ private group.

With a spring in my step, I now turned to my fellow brothers in the Black Manosphere, certain that it would be all but an open and shut case – boy, was I wrong.

SHAMELESS PLUG AD BREAK: Like what you’re reading now? Wait till you see my very first book, “The Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman”! Here’s YOUR chance to help me bring the dream to life, by supporting “The Book of Obsidian Fundraising Campaign”! All the details are over at GoGetFunding.com. Now, back to the article!

ISSUES FROM THE NEGRO ID
Accepting an invitation to be a special guest on Bernard Riley’s “The Grown Man Hour” show over on YouTube last week, I shared the findings of my Tinder experiment with gusto, thinking that the brothers who tuned in would be elated at the good news; that one, if you’re a “non-select” guy, all hope is certainly not lost; and two, you are absolutely under no obligation to “stay in your lane” with Black women who clearly are subpar and when you can clearly gain access to non-Black women who are a far sight more attractive.

My hopes were quickly deflated when I was met with a torrent of naysayers and flatout negative dudes calling in and joining the panel; one such panelist admitted that he didn’t even know how Tinder worked, but was dead set convinced that my findings were wrong or illegitimate. Another panelist had no interest in the subject matter at all, and was only interested in hawking his wares and airing out his personal axes to grind with me. Yet another panelist, who despite listening to the show for nearly the previous hour, still evidenced how little he understood what the actual topic was.

There were those who argued that my Tinder match results were flawed because, “bots” – fake profiles from very attractive women who “approach” lovelorn guys on dating apps and who snucker these poor saps into long term contracts for exorbitant fees. Of course the problem with this non-argument is twofold: One, it’s hard to imagine 40-something year old, grossly overweight and unattractive Black women being the posterchild of such “bots”; and second, I had already covered this phenomenon that led to the Match Group – the parent online dating conglomerate out of Dallas, TX that owns Tinder – attracting the direct involvement of the Federal Trade Commission. I suppose it really IS true – Black men don’t read much at all, huh? (“Federal Trade Commission’s Lawsuit Against The Match Group Proves Why Non-Select Guys MUST NOT Use “Dating Apps”!”, Oct 14, 2019, Negromanosphere.com; “Why Black Women Read More Books”, Jan 27, 2014, Essence.com)

Other callers and panelists demanded to deconstruct the study design, saying that it was illegitimate due to the fact that I had never met the ladies in question, didn’t take them out and most importantly, didn’t bed them – all this, despite the fact that NONE of all the previous peer-reviewed online dating studies have done any of that either(!). Somehow, I seriously doubt that my interlocutors knew or cared about such inconvenient facts.

In the face of such stompdown insanity, one has to ask – WHY all this fierce resistance, especially in light of the fact that Black women themselves had nothing to say about the findings and evidence of the very same study?

Well, after giving the matter a heck of a lot of thought, I think I might have an answer: Cognitive dissonance. Simply put, I had directly challenged some deeply held views and beliefs a lot of guys firmly cling to. These notions give some guys meaning; they make sense of the chaos and disorder and to be brutally frank, failure of their lives. Because, what is the alternative – admit that what they’ve believed, was bullshit all along?

No. Psychologists have long known that when people are confronted with facts and evidence that flies in the facts of deeply held beliefs, that people will double down and fight tooth and nail against those who presented the evidence – not change their minds and actions and essentially, abandon those erroneous views. It’s too painful. Too much has been invested. And it soothes bruised egos and gives personal failures a convenient alibi.

If there is a lesson for the Obsidians here, it is this: ALWAYS question your and others’ assumptions; NEVER believe anything on face value; and finally, INSIST on empirically testing EVERYTHING.

When you do, you just might be surprised with what you find.

Now adjourn your asses…

MOA

Mumia Obsidian Ali is a citizen journalist, podcaster, talk radio show host, newly minted dating coach and soon to be author. You can catch his daily live shows on the global livestreaming radio website Mixlr, as well as the all-new members-only Obsidian Radio Zoomcast, and his podcasts on YouTube and Black Avenger TV, as well as his weekly dating coach column at the Negromanosphere website. He’s also a semi-professional pest.

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