‘Covered for Graham’? Tinder’s ‘Swipe Night’ debut revealed a moment of rare honesty
It’s the end of the world. Do you cover for your friend who has just cheated on his girlfriend? Or do you tell the girlfriend, who is also your friend?
This is one of the scenarios players face in Tinder’s new interactive series, Swipe Night. The weekly episodic game/online series/profile matching tool debuted in the US last night. Tinder users only had until midnight to consume episode 1, and can’t play it over again. The next chance they’ll have to play and make decisions in the apocalyptic scenario is in episode 2, next Sunday.
The format is innovative and, well, fun, as a whole. But with the premiere of a new kind of content, something interesting and all too rare happened: people were accidentally super honest, in public.
When you launch Swipe Night, the app tells you that your choices will be used to inform who you match with after the game. It seems like the decision of whether to, for example, compliment or troll a friend, will be just another data point in your algorithmic existence, unseen to anyone but whirring computers.
You’d be wrong. Tinder is not super specific about the fact that some of the choices you make won’t just be used to suggest matches, but that they’ll actually be *displayed* on your profile.
So, in the above scenario about the cheating beau, A.K.A. “Graham,” a moment of truth — and a meme — emerged.
While scrolling through profiles after playing Swipe Night, my sister and I compared profile bios and pictures to a whole new data set: the crucial choices people made in Swipe Night. One of the choices was how the person treated the cheating friend.
Cackling, we realized that anyone whose profile displayed that he had “Covered for Graham” was an automatic swipe left. Who on earth would match with a dude who decided to cover for a two-timing bro rather than be honest with a woman? Not us!!
The internet agreed.
love this tinder swipe night thing bc now i dont waste my time talking to boys who covered for graham
— mary (@maryy_bishop) October 7, 2019
My roommate is playing the tinder swipe night thing and I love that you can see everyone’s answer. Covered for Graham? Gotta go left.
— Sam (@saminezs) October 6, 2019
This choice that people made without knowing that it would be put on display said way more about the dudebros of Tinder than any bio. Oh, so your profile says that “honesty” is super important, but you “Covered for Graham”? Bye! Hmm, you look like a bit of an a-hole, but you “Told Lucy the Truth”? Maybe we’ll give this guy a shot.
Of course, the Covered for Graham phenomenon isn’t something that will necessarily reoccur. The scenario and subsequent choice was particularly revealing.
But more than that, on this, the premiere, no one really knew how Swipe Night and matching would work, yet. So users apparently played the game in good faith — no one was wise yet about how to game the system. In the future, people might make choices more carefully, knowing that prospective matches would judge them for it.
Organic and unmanufactured presentations of ourselves only happen every so often on social media. It happens when a new platform launches, or a new game or filter or tool debuts, and people get to just play. Especially on a platform like Tinder, we’re too conscious of how we choose to present ourselves to actually communicate something revealing (say, whether covering for a bro or being honest with a girl is more important to you). So with the launch of Swipe Night, and Graham’s indiscretions, Tinder gave us something, rare, and real.
Oh, also? Screw Graham.