All you need to do to score a date these days is travel several thousand miles to an impoverished country, pose with a barefoot underserved kid and share said seemingly selfless image with other singles on the Internet.
At least that’s the approach the "Humanitarians of Tinder" are taking.
A new Tumblr blog rounds up the squeakiest of clean images from the online dating site to show how some users are making a difference -- and making sure their prospective dates know all about it. Such images include a doctor wrapping his arm around a bandaged child and a young woman tickling a morose-looking kid.
The pictures are caption-less, but they all demonstrate an act of volunteering. And most of those volunteers happen to be young white people helping poor people.
Because the blog doesn’t provide much in the way of context, some critics have imposed their own interpretation of what is taking place in these scenes.
Liam Matthews, of Nerve.com, has a pretty elaborate idea of what is going on inside the heads of people who share their humanitarian missions on dating sites:
I'm a good person. Just because I'm white and privileged doesn't mean I'm not a good person. And I don't have to apologize for being a good person, either. I went to Africa and Guatemala, and it's part of my experience, so I can show a picture of me smiling with a gaggle of pantless brown children on my Tinder. It happened. It's not bragging about how worldly and selfless and kind and humble I am. I just am. I helped. Me and my two soft, weak hands and my pop cultural knowledge did good for those three weeks of my sophomore year winter break. If I saw these pictures on Tinder, I would definitely want to have sex with me.
Critics have taken issue with the trend, pointing out that using a poor kid as a "dating prop" is just flat-out messed up.
In some ways, these photos make it all too easy to hearken back to the satirical Onion article about a woman whose trip to Africa "completely changed" her Facebook profile picture.
"I don’t think my profile photo will ever be the same, not after the experience of taking such incredible pictures with my arms around those small African children’s shoulders," the fictitious do-gooder said in the January piece. "Honestly, I can’t even imagine going back to my old Facebook photo of my roommate and I at an outdoor concert."
While it’s true that the volunteers on Tinder could be a little more humble about their advocacy work and may be painting themselves in a martyr light, we can’t completely fault them for showing off their selfless side.
At this rate, giving back might even become as compelling as surfing and listening to Radiohead.