For more than a decade, people have abstained from Facebook for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they think it’s creepy, they don’t want to deal with randos from high school (lord knows, the worst thing that can happen to anyone is an old acquaintance sending them a friendly message to say hello), they are dead inside, or they are over the age of 65. These are the new people-who-don’t-have-cell-phones. They boast of their asceticism. They tell you how if they wanted to talk to someone, why, they’d simply pick up the phone and give them a call, because they like real and meaningful conversation (apparently unaware that no one wants to answer phone calls anymore). They prefer their simpler life, full of deep and personal interactions with people they truly love — not like the rest of us who are shallow slaves to an insidious digital overlord that has given us nothing but superficial friendships, poor manners, and poking.
But finally, something has come along that has forced some Facebook holdouts to finally cave: Tinder. For some longtime Facebook resistors, the urge to grind nude flesh sacks with someone else has at last won out over the (reasonable!) hesitations over Facebook’s creeping encroachment into our personal lives.
If you want to date other people in the year 2016, you pretty much need Tinder to do so. It’s the top dating app by a landslide, with the most hot singles in your area waiting to meet you. Let’s say you’re newly single at 32 – the Dionysian fuckfest of college is over, you go out to bars less often, friends are wifeing up, and suddenly you realize you just don’t meet people IRL as much. Bud, it’s swipin’ time.
But the thing is, Tinder requires a Facebook account to sign up. So do competitors Hinge and Bumble. For the most part, people like that feature! It means fewer fake profiles, the ability to see mutual friends, and a general incentive to be slightly less awful. So if you’re a single 32-year-old who has avoided Facebook since college, and are looking to date, guess what.
The first time I noticed a longtime Facebook abstainer finally cave, it was a friend from college. She’s on Instagram and Twitter, and I was sort of surprised to realize she hadn’t been on Facebook this whole time (I just assume everyone is). Interestingly, not only had she finally joined (a few cheery announcements), her profile photos were very nice. Like the kind of nice photos you’d choose for a dating profile. (She did not reply to my admittedly fairly rude and prying email asking if this was the case.)
While it may not be a full-fledged trend, it's definitely a thing. It's not that hard to find other people who after years of abstinence finally joined Facebook only because they wanted to get on Tinder. A rep for Tinder says they have no hard data on this phenomenon, but that anecdotally they’ve heard of it as well.
Person A was 35 when she moved to a new city for an extended work assignment and didn’t have a social circle. (Most people I spoke with requested I not use their names, since as you might imagine is the case for those who have avoided Facebook for years, they’re very private, horny people.) She was also ready to move on from a decade-long, dead-end relationship. “A friend who met her fiancé on Tinder literally sat me down at her kitchen table and forced me to sign up for Tinder and Facebook,” Person A told me. “Thanks to her gentle but firm prodding, I went to interesting venues I wouldn't have otherwise, reconnected with old friends on Facebook and met a wickedly smart, grounded, and gorgeous man on Tinder.”
Some of these holdouts have even come up with creative ways to remain true to their commitment to avoiding old acquaintances while still reaping the benefits of meeting new people to mash genitals with. Angelo Spagnolo, a fellow BuzzFeed writer, had a Facebook account at one point, but had been off it for five years before he rejoined just to get on Tinder at age 26. However, he still refused to rejoin under his own name – he created a fake account with a slightly different name. (Tinder only shows your first name, so a fake last name isn’t really lying to prospective dates.) He met his current girlfriend on Tinder and no longer uses the dating app or the fake Facebook account.
Angelo isn’t the only person I spoke to doing the dummy account trick. Person B, a 29-year-old man from Brooklyn, also created a Facebook account without his real name to be able to use Tinder yet avoid invitations to the DJ night from some random guy who lived on his dorm room floor freshman year. It also worked: He now lives with the woman he met on Tinder. And like Spagnolo, he still isn’t on Facebook "for real" either.
Look, this isn't moving the needle on Facebook's user numbers. The number of Tinder users who weren't previously on Facebook is likely incredibly small (Tinder won't even hazard a guess).
But this is definitely a ~thing~ that is happening out there. So just keep that in mind the next time someone you've known forever suddenly joins Facebook after a long absence – they're probably on the prowl.