For the uninitiated (or the married), this is what Tinder is: a magic box on your smartphone in which you put a photo of yourself with whatever cute dog you can get ahold of.

Then you write a bit about yourself, stuff that makes you seem interesting and fun – the type of person who takes dates hiking rather than the type who is using their non-phone-holding hand to drag a feather toy across the floor because the vet told them their cat needs at least 15 minutes of exercise per day (which is more than you get) and she hasn’t shown any interest in the last three toys you’ve tried.

Then you set a radius, aka, how far you are willing to drive for a date.

For me, that’s 35 miles or less. The magic box will show you pictures and bios of people within that radius. Sometimes it will show you people outside that radius who the magic box really thinks you’ll like. (That’s how I ended up dating a girl who lives in Farmington.) Consider your radius carefully. Unless you live on a college campus or in downtown Portland (like, really downtown), you’re going to have to drive.

If the people Tinder shows you seem interesting, or if they are your cousin who is married and now you have some questions for them, you swipe right. If they have also swiped right on your picture, a notification pops up saying you have a match. If they do not swipe right, you wither away slowly in self-loathing.

Here’s the thing: I have a busy life. Full-time job, family to help take care of, a cat who probably has separation anxiety. I don’t have time to trawl bars looking for people and even if I did, it doesn’t turn out well. Accidentally hitting on straight women is awkward, and men freak out and short-circuit when I offer to buy them a drink. (Seriously, ladies, try offering to buy a guy across the bar a drink. Enjoy the show.)

Tinder helps me separate the wheat from the chaff from the comforts of my own home. Nobody wants to go through the effort of getting dressed up, driving to the date location and making small talk only to discover their date is a Yankee fan or allergic to cats or a misogynist. The accounts are verified, so there is a 90 percent chance that your date isn’t an ax murderer.

My sister thinks there should be a Maine-specific dating application called “Timber,” where you’re matched with potential dates by whether you are more lobsterman or lumberjack, what source of heat you prefer in the winter (can’t beat a good woodstove) and how far back you can trace your ancestry in Maine until you hit the same person. I think if it survives the copyright infringement lawsuit, she’s on to something.

People tend to think that Tinder is just for wild, crazy hookups. Maybe that’s true in big cities, but in Maine, unless you are very lucky, nobody is within walking distance.

This means you’re going to have to drive to the first date, meaning you can’t get drunk, meaning your standards are high. (And if you are the type of person who can stick to their personal standards after three gin and tonics, please teach me your ways.)

Tinder is just a different way of meeting people – and I’ve met some wonderful people through it, including my current girlfriend (the one in Farmington). It’s convenient – and if you don’t think convenience is romantic, well, we clearly aren’t going to work as a couple.

And for anyone clutching their pearls and thinking the youth have completely lost their ability to interact in person, don’t worry. I met my current boyfriend the old-fashioned, all-American way (by stalking him at a Rite-Aid). But that’s another story.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

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