Belfast Telegraph

Tinder needs to charge men more, not tax older lonely hearts

Speaking as a married mother, I'm a big fan of online dating. Finding my husband when I did - just before the phenomenon really took off - was sheer luck. We've stayed together, but if we hadn't, I'm sure that, as my thirties crept in, I'd have thrown myself into online dating. And personal ads. (Two of my friends have been very happily together for years with people they met via a newspaper dating page.

Of course, it's always nice to fall in love after an excited conversation with a charismatic man you just met in a library, but life doesn't hand those encounters out like sweeties.

And, if you chat with someone online for a while, the chances of him surprising you with his 'Fighting for Farage' car-sticker after two dates are much lower.

Online dating used to be taboo, an embarrassing thing people pretended they didn't do for fear of looking desperate. These days, it seems almost old-fashioned.

The ability to instantly reject, or accept, potential partners within a half-mile radius offered by the likes of phone app Tinder presents people the way Amazon presents toasters.

Based on nothing but a blurry photo, you swipe right if you fancy it, left if you don't.

If he/she likes the look of you, too, you hook up. If the experiences of Tinder users I've spoken to are anything to go by, the beautiful relationship which ensues might even get you to breakfast. But only if you've really connected.

There was a little hullabaloo recently when Tinder announced a new sliding scale for its users. Those under 27 will still pay £3.99 a month. For those over 27, there is a whopping leap up to £14.99. Many have assumed this is an 'age tax'; a way of chasing out hideous, wrinkly old folk of 28.

I'm not so sure. What Tinder cares most about is making money, not providing a life-enhancing experience for its younger members. Not only are the slightly older likely to be better off, they might also be more willing to pay extra, perhaps feeling the odd panicky plunge of heart when another relationship hits the dust. Especially if they want a family.

In this sense, the Tinder fee-change is worse than ageist. It's a tax on flurried hearts, melancholy and familial pressure. Of course, there are many women over 27 who are entirely happy without the prospect of a committed relationship, but let's be honest, there are far fewer of them than their 19-year-old counterparts.

If the older members believe Tinder is their best chance of finding a partner, as its PR promises, they'll probably shell out three times as much as a student looking for somewhere to crash for the night.

I'd advise Tinder to charge men more than women. Having observed both sexes swiping, it's clear men are very keen on the idea of a quick pick-up and an equally speedy put-down.

Tinder allows for online chat, but lots of men prefer to skip to the meet; women generally prefer to have a sounding-out conversation first and are more likely to hope for something vaguely meaningful in the end. Charging men extra might not prove more enticing to the Mr Darcys of the world, but at least Tinder will get richer.

And in the absence of a human being who loves us, that thought should keep us all feeling warmer in our beds.

By George, budget isn't all good news

George Osborne puffed out his chest during his Budget speech to announce Britain had "chosen the future" and was now "walking tall".

But while the Tories are walking tall down the corridors of power, parents of kids with learning disabilities are weeping at the breakfast table, as another Budget slash destroys any chance of respite care.

In Northern Ireland, sports access for disabled kids will be "devastated", according to Disability Sport NI, by cuts of 50%.

Due to Northern Ireland health boards' addiction to "breaking even", hospital beds are disappearing, crucial operations are being indefinitely "paused" and mental health services are depleted.

We're all in it together. But some of us are more together than others.

Get into gear with Partridge petition

The recent blossoming of online petitions is a wonderful thing in a country which has reduced democracy to one vote every five years for parties whose manifesto guarantees don't even serve as toilet paper (too scratchy).

Petitions amplify the voices of quietened people and with the Government obliged to take note of every one with more than 100,000 signatures, all kinds of overlooked injustices can garner headlines and demand at least a quick glance from a politician.

So I urge everyone to sign the latest, demanding Alan Partridge replaces Disgraced Jeremy Clarkson (TM, above).

Who could ask for their licence fee back if the BBC delivered that?

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