In this strenuous economy, the common Kenyan is looking for an outlet. Sex seems like a way out for most. I mean it only makes sense that if you are getting it given to you on one end, you should at least be giving it on the other end, right?

But times have changed. People do not walk into a bar and hit on each other like the good old days. They do not spark conversation in public transport with strangers, exchanging smiles and witty nuances before paying the fares. As a matter of fact, we do not even smile anymore – it is expensive. A smile says that you are happy about something and at this very moment there is nothing to be happy about. However, the crown to all of this is we have just become lazy.

If the word Tinder is new to you, it means you’ve only recently finished your KCPE exams. It is a dating app with approximately 50 million users. The app has replaced all other social dating norms. All you have to do is create an account, spruce up your bio and begin swiping.

It is a strange place, that app. A different planet if I may. Here all you have to do is swipe on strangers based on their looks, bio or age. These strangers are tailor picked for you by the app’s algorithm. An algorithm that takes into consideration your preferences and location. Here you put your personality up for auction, a game of trial and error as the app tries to find you a person that finds you interesting and vice versa. It feels more like a gamble and maybe the government should throw it into the same shopping basket as Sportpesa. Imagine sparking up a conversation with a person you’ve never met, possibly a catfish and the only thing you know about them is that they are 5’8 and think dogs should own umbrellas.

The girl does not reveal much, a picture here and there to show him what assets he is purchasing and a hint as to what her favorite drink is.

Some people swear that it works and that it is possible to find love in these places. Well, this might be true but more of an exception than the rule. Out here, in this jungle, people are out to find different things. There is a 23-year-old university student who thinks they are a model because– long legs. They are interested in vanilla. Which I found is not an ice cream flavor but a racial preference. Then there is the 32-year-old chap whose bio says they are in procurement but are also DTF. What would you imagine those two people would be there for? Your guess is as good as mine.

With 50+ million people on an app meant for dating one thing was bound to happen the revolutionizing of the oldest profession on earth. I mean people looking for love are easy to manipulate. You just need to say the right things at the right time, and you have them eating out of the palm of your hands. Wait. I think the best anecdote would be a puppy on a leash. Puppies are eager to please while seemingly unaware of their restricted freedom.

So, what has happened is some certain caliber of ladies have found their way on to these apps, put up enticing pictures of themselves and cleverly included in their bio what they do and what they expect. They’ve taken the oldest profession in the world and refined it. A typical profile will have three to four pictures showing off assets. Rarely will a face be included. The bio will have what is obviously a fake age – because in this industry old is not gold. Then a line or two that goes something like:

I love having fun let’s have it together.

I can come to your place and we can watch a movie, have wine and if we vibe go the extra mile.

I am a lady, so a token of appreciation is expected.

Men on the app have become accustomed to such profiles. They’ve become keen to trigger words such as “Token” which is basically your service fee. The bolder ones will include what kind of “token” they expect while others will leave it up for negotiation maybe to gauge your purchasing power. Some will directly engage you while others will wait for you to initiate conversation after the match happens.

Seems easy right? Well, it is not exactly as it seems.

Take for instance the story of Charles* a man in his mid-thirties and quite comfortable in his career. He has a wife, married for a couple of years but feels trapped. He feels marriage is not for him ever since the honeymoon period ended. Maybe he harbored unrealistic expectations or was just not yet ready to settle. He thinks what he needs in his life is a little ‘spark’. Something to re-ignite the youthfulness he thinks is fleeting. Stupid.

This is based on a true story.

Charles* decides to create a tinder profile. In his mind all he is going to do is flirt a lot and cheat a little after all, this is what men do. He has had enough stories about the app, and he knows exactly what he is looking for. After a few hours on the app, he comes across a profile with the trigger words he is looking for – perfect. It’s Daisy* a 25-year-old, in University, amazing pictures flooding her profile and she expects a token for spending time together. Charles* swipes right and instantly it is a match. The excitement floods in. He instantly messages her hoping to wait for a reply but instead it comes in instantly. Daisy* is interested. She’s from an estate in Eastlands, drinks wine or whisky and is ready to come over with the expectation of a cab ride and a 4,000 bob token of appreciations.

To Charles* all this seems easy. He wonders why anyone would have been looking anywhere else when everything can be handled over in the comfort of an app. Not wanting to look cheap he does not negotiate; they quickly exchange phone numbers and the conversation switches to WhatsApp. He learns a bit more about the girl – not that he is interested anyway. The girl does not reveal much, a picture here and there to show him what assets he is purchasing and a hint as to what her favorite drink is. After much thought, Charles* decides he is doing this.

Now Charles* did not reveal if he had cheated before but he seemed to know some of the ropes. He had to find a time when the wife would not be around, probably a weekend when she would be away for work. In the cheating game sometimes, the stars align and sometimes they don’t. In Charles* case they did. He found the perfect day to have Daisy* over. He sent her a cab and waited.

Most of these men are not brave enough to admit it when it happens to them. They would be the laughing stock of peers – after all, how do you just let a stranger into your house?

I would’ve liked to know if Daisy* was anything Charles* had imagined. Did she look better than her pictures? Did she look the same as her pictures? Was she a far cry from the pictures? If the latter did he feel disappointed? Or maybe he did not care and was just up to carry out his shenanigans and get this urge out of his system? What did her voice sound like? Did her form betray her trade? Was there an awkward moment or they said hi to each other like old friends? Was he scared his neighbors would see who walked in and tattle?

Instead, Charles* went straight to the juicy bit of the story. All he remembers is having a drink and waking up a few hours later on his bed, with Daisy, gone. He was drugged. His wallet next to him with no money and a valuable lesson. Luckily, the house was left untouched. Maybe this was because of the tight security or maybe Daisy* just doesn’t deal with stolen goods.

But Charles* story is not isolated. These ladies have crept their way onto the app and found a way to scam gullible men. Most of these men are not brave enough to admit it when it happens to them. They would be the laughing stock of peers – after all, how do you just let a stranger into your house?

But here’s the weird thing. The app while not only a haven for these ladies is also home to another breed. The kind that will act like they are in it for the long run. These ones will woo you over with witty conversation spiced with sultry undertones. Then when you least expect it, ask for money. There are no silly excuses like with the tired catfish haggard on Facebook. They will not spin tales on needing school fees. They will just outright attack your masculinity and say they need a man who can prove that they can provide. Well, most men do not fall into this trap and they get blocked. But again, your guess is as good as mine – even those who send get blocked.

At the end of the day, this economy will get the better of you from both ends. I recommend handling it the right way, a cold one after a day’s work at a happy hour spot. If you choose otherwise, be careful about how you go about it. You might not be as lucky as Charles*

 

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