I’ve been on Tinder for about a week now, and, although my location is clearly set to Palo Alto, California, I’ve exclusively been matched with a Kyrgyzstani yak herder’s daughter from the remote village of Abdykalyk.
Given that Olga has consistently been my only match, I figured it couldn’t hurt to send her a cute minion gif just to get the ball rolling. Little did I know that courtship in Kyrgyzstan is taken incredibly seriously, and that Tinder has been co-opted by Kyrgyzstani fathers who are too preoccupied to spend time finding suitable husbands for their daughter. Though computer science is only the third most popular major after “stay-at-home farming” and “snow leopard observationism” in Kyrgyzstani universities, a team of hackers has still managed to successfully tweak the Tinder algorithm to best suit the patriarchy’s matchmaking agenda.
Olga replied to my gif within minutes, with what looked like a scanned polaroid of a hand-drawn legal contract written on sheepskin stating that, because I “биринчи даректерге” (messaged first), I had voluntarily entered into a binding marriage contract with her, and I now owed her father a whopping 10-goat dowry. To be honest, this came completely out of left field for me. My cousin Declan told me all about Tinder over thanksgiving, but didn’t once mention goat dowries.
All told, I’m writing this article on my Kindle Fire in the boxcar of a rusty steam-engine chugging its way across the abandoned silk roads of central Asia, as ten beautiful and unique goats look on over my shoulder. Call me crazy, but I feel closer to Olga now than I ever did, and I think that means something. Thank you, Tinder.