Lost in the Tindersphere

Just still swiping…

So the film is here and what a journey it was. The making of Tinderfest was as you would expect: hilarious, bizarre, confusing, disgusting, very uncomfortable but a shitonne of fun to make.

When making a documentary (or creating any other kind of journalism for that matter) you often find yourself compromising accuracy for entertainment. I guess I had a few of these moments when making Tinderfest and of course I could not possibly tell the entire story in 5 and a half minutes. So I thought I’d write it all here along with some background info and an update of my own progress in the Tindersphere since.

In the beginning…

So how did this madness all start? I imagine my reasons for first downloading the godforsaken app were similar to that of many others. I had heard it talked about a great deal, it seemed like barrel of laughs. I think I downloaded it thinking, ‘it’ll be funny’, but actually it was just tragic.

It was horrible. Everyone was so ugly. I was disgusted, but then I would be disgusted at myself for basing my judgements on physical appearance. But that’s what Tinder was all about and I was hooked. Just one more swipe and I might find someone beautiful. Just one more swipe, one more…. 

“There is no one new around you”


About twice I came across guys who looked like they could be amazing, exactly my type of dude, although of course you can never tell from a mere Tinder profile. The first of these I didn’t match with. The second stopped talking to me after we exchanged about two messages. I also came across a guy I worked with. As it happens, when we worked together I fancied him so much I actually just started to avoid him, if that makes sense. But I swiped right on Tinder, cause Yolo. Ten months later and still waiting on that match to come through…

It’s funny that I spent so much time swiping through the masses yet never had any intentions of forming proper relationships. I didn’t considered Tinder a viable way to make real life connections. It seems odd to me now, because why not? I suppose I thought it was just some kind of game. The few conversations that I did have ended soon after they began. One boy asked me for my phone number and I said no. I think it just became too real all of a sudden and I couldn’t handle it. I’m still not sure why I was talking to him if I never wanted to know him in real life. Tinder is so confusing sometimes. So is life.

The truth is, I was picky. However, probably only picky in the context of Tinder. I probably went through about 700 people before swiping right once. I still don’t disagree with my level of pickyness – I maintain the view that you shouldn’t settle for anything less than amazing. As you can imagine, being so selective, I didn’t get very far.

I remember thinking to myself, “are men actually this disgusting?”, then I went outside and the streets were full of beautiful people and my faith was restored. I was assured that men were only this ugly on Tinder. Shan though.


“Is that that mad orgy everyone’s talking about?”

Like most people, I disregarded Tinder for a while. But like most people, I came crawling back. But this time it was to make the art piece that is Tinderfest. A few people have asked me why I decided to make a documentary about Tinder. I’m not sure why they ask this as to me, it seems obvious. When thinking of possible documentary subjects, Tinder seemed like the natural choice – it’s hilarious, outrageous, kinda dodgy and certainly should not be taken seriously. My kind of thing. It may divide opinion but one thing we can probably all agree on is that it is endlessly fascinating. Plus, it is pretty huge; so many of us sexy youngsters have used Tinder at one time or another and the internet in general plays such a major role in the way we communicate these days, for better or worse.

The idea for the party was perfect – anything could happen, or nothing.

At some point my friend Gordon said to me something along the lines of “Ailsa, if you’re going to make a film about this I think you have to fully experience it for yourself”. There was no point in fannying around anymore, I had to throw myself in there and lose myself in the Tindersphere. What followed was a very strange time of my life. I almost felt like I was leading a double life – one in the real world and one where I wandered the endless plains of the internet. I was lost in the Tindersphere, not sure where I was going or what I was doing, who I was looking for… just swipe swipe swipin’ the days away…

It was at this stage I realised I could swipe for a multitude of different reasons. I didn’t necessarily have to fancy them, or did I? I guess a lot of people assume a swipe right means you fancy them and I ran into problems a couple of times because of this. But I came across a lot of cool looking folk who I wanted to connect with for various reasons and personally I don’t see why I should pass up that opportunity just because I didn’t have the hots for them.

This was also the stage I set out on the Tinder date mission. I failed so badly. Although one thing I didn’t mention in the documentary was that I did in fact get asked on a date. In fact, I was up for meeting the guy, but I did not fancy him one bit – I swiped right because judging by his profile, he seemed as jaded as I was. I was straight with him, I told him I’d like to meet him, but not as a date. He did not take it well and what followed was an angry exchange of messages, leading to him blocking me.

Goodbye Michael, 23.

So the party. My party guests were engaging people, some of which I knew prior to the event but some who were completely new to me. One thing that I’m sad about is that I didn’t have time to expand on Stephen’s whole polyamoury thing. Once the documentary was completed I had the realisation that I didn’t even think to ask his date, Nadia about her relationship status. #shitejournalist

And then there was Steve. Poor Steve, forever alone. I edited the footage to make him look like a bit of a loner and I did feel kinda bad about this. Having said this, he did actually say to me I could edit the material however I wanted and he didn’t mind how it would make him look. I didn’t even include any footage of him saying how he felt about the girls in the final cut. The truth is, Sinead, Steve and Skye all seemed to have a lovely time in the corner together, even if it was just as friends, and both girls thought he was a sound cunt.

I thoroughly enjoyed the party and I think my party guests did too, despite the fact only a few showed up out of the one hundred and something that were invited…


Just still swipin…

For a wee while, I still went on the old Tinder in an attempt to chat shit to strangers, because that’s the kind of person I am I guess. I’m up for chatting to anyone, as long as they’re not dangerous or harassing me. Some of the most memorable people are ones I met on the bus or wandering the streets at some ungodly hour. I like the idea that every stranger could potentially become a friend and for that reason Tinder appeals to me.

About 80% of the time the folk on Tinder don’t seem all that up for my shite patter, and virtually all the 20% of shatter that I did have fizzled out in time. It was cool occasionally connecting with people on the other side of the world; I had one dude checking out my Soundcloud whilst I also gave his tunes a listen.

But more often than not, at times when I thought I had made a connection with someone, our virtual friendship (or whatever the fuck you wanna call it) was broken by the dreaded request for nudes, or something of this nature. I was naïve, innocent and way too trusting for this shit and I soon realised Tinder was not the place for me.

The potential is there, Tinder just needs more good cunts who are up for the shatter. But that’s not gonna happen any time soon, because really who wants to waste hours of their life sifting through heaps of shite in the hope that they’ll find something beautiful? Some people apparently, but no me – cannae be arsed. Also dinnae need it like, I am young and sensual and the real world holds far more stimulating connections for me, whether it be now or somewhere further down the line…

If I wanna chat shit to strangers I can go to the pub.






It was Friday night and the streets were littered with drunks. The town was alive with the sounds of party-goers, all liquored up and ready to take on the world. I felt the city shake beneath me as my rickety bike trundled over Edinburgh’s cobblestones, past the scantily clad clubbers and past Friday night’s freaks.

There were three of us and even in the presence of all the various grotesque characters that lingered on street corners, we perhaps made the strangest trio of them all; two 19-year-old girls and an eccentric 47-year-old tree-hugging hippie, all out for the weekly shop.

Nessa and I followed Simon’s lead. He possessed all the rowdiness of his inebriated onlookers and yet not a drop of alcohol had been consumed. I chuckled to myself as intoxicated youths gazed on in bemusement as he graced the streets with an acapella medley of 80s chart hits, his lanky limbs flailing wildly in the air as he sang.

Nessa looked serene with the wind on her curious face, riding her bike, no hands. With auburn hair and dressed in a skirt of embroidered floaty fabrics, she looked like an elven princess who had wandered from the forest and found herself in the midst of a booze-induced chaos. And then there was me, gripping the handle bars, wondering why, on a Friday night, I was headed somewhere so strange. For we weren’t looking to get wasted, we sought to get inside the waste, delve through the debris and dig deep in search of treasure. We were out for a night in Edinburgh’s bins.

“Let’s see what Binderella has in store for us tonight.”

The first bin was a trove of peculiar things. Our bikes safely locked up, Nessa lifted the lid to reveal an assortment of discarded charity shop donations. Without a second’s hesitation she clambered inside and began throwing her findings at me… a pair of boots, a “wine journal”, Polish computer games for children… Cars drove by and slowed down as their drivers marvelled at such an unusual sight, or maybe it was because she looked so pristine, even when standing in a bin.

In the light of the street lamp Simon didn’t look quite human, more like some kind of friendly arachnid. He moved quickly and stealthily as his long thin arms were engulfed by the pile of refuse, his eyes glowing like big black spheres, obscured in the half light.

Having not yet lost my inhibitions, I held back. As a first timer I wasn’t quite ready to lose myself in the bins and so I stood on the dimly lit pavement and watched with an odd admiration as my friends unashamedly delved through trash. After a time I began to gather their findings and desperately tried to make sense of it all.

It seemed intriguing to me that so many donations had been deemed nothing more than useless junk and I began to carefully study each one, attempting to identify its own unique fault. A small crack or chip here and there rendered any crockery worthless, the cover of my new wine journal was ever so slightly faded, but the discarded clothing was a mystery. Nessa left that night sporting a new pair of lace-up boots while Simon took home a pair of khaki trousers, almost identical to the ones he was already wearing. I wondered if all his clothes came from bins.

Around us, the wails of the party-goers could still be heard but we were in the eye of the hurricane; the bins were an oasis of calm in a sea of raucous drunks and after a time we formed something of a bin community. We had company – Friday night’s misfits – and we sat together with our new friends on tiny plastic chairs around a battered old table, drinking imaginary tea out of chipped china tea cups.

Drunk, restless and rejected from the Friday night party the whole of Edinburgh but us seemed to be attending, Russell was introverted but his curiosity led him to us and to the bins. Peter on the other hand was a regular. Homeless and in need of clothing, he had in fact already scoured this particular bin for treasures that night. And so there we sat, each of us so different from one another but equal at our own private tea party and it became clear to me that we were the same in the most simplest of ways. As we parted ways Peter turned to us and waved.
“See you at the bins!” he called.

It was time for us to move on. Having salvaged many things, some more useful than others, we got back on our bikes and cycled through drunk Edinburgh once more. After a time we came to Morningside, one of the more peaceful areas on a Friday night.

Simon is the only person I know whose food shopping must be done under cover of darkness. As I waited in the shadows, he and Nessa raided the Waitrose bins and above me the sky turned from black to blue. They worked quickly, but they were no match for Scotland’s short summer nights; day was breaking and it was time to go.

The pair emerged with bundles of goodies and they scattered their findings before me and proclaimed their success. Bags of fruit and veg, canned and various other goods lay everywhere. Surrounded by green leaves, Nessa sat on the pavement and laughed until her sides were sore. Any doubts I had were extinguished – the bins did provide. After all, for Simon, this was a way of life and they were yet to fail him. Another Friday, another weekly shop done. We returned to the chaos of the town.

In the Meadows we watched the sun come up and accosted drunk people on their journey home. Two youngsters appeared to be embracing a tree.
“Fucking hippies”. When our eyelids became too heavy we got back on our bicycles, each of us with a load we did not have before, and cycled through the remnants of Friday night to our separate homes and to bed. As I mounted my bike I glanced behind me and saw the silhouette of Simon soaring down the road, no hands, singing and screaming at the top of his voice. He seemed like a total nutcase, but he was free.

Reviewed: ‘Webcam Highlights’ by Dayna Ali

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What is art?

The subjective nature of “art” suggests that this question cannot be answered, without dispute at least. However, a young Scottish artist’s recent groundbreaking work received unanimous critical acclaim this week; there were no arguments to be had – Dayna Ali’s ‘Webcam Highlights’ collection is undoubtedly art.

The Edinburgh College of Art student and aspiring model assembled a series of photographs of herself, commonly known as “selfies”, that capture the various components of the human soul and encourage us to consider our lives as a spiritual and emotional existence. With just herself, a humble webcam and on occasion some simple effects, Ali achieves a variety of moods, ranging from comedic to seductive. This artistic exploration of what it means to be human combines compositional skill with Ali’s exceptional good looks, and at times incorporates elements of the surreal with that of familiarity and comfort in order to challenge our perception of reality.

Let us take a look at some of Ali’s finest compositions in the ‘Webcam Highlights’ series:

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Perhaps the most comical of her works, this piece gained a particularly warm reception from critics. Though it may at first glance appear as a composition for the mere purpose of comedic value, this initial deception gives way to a deeper meaning. The artist portrays herself as a young woman possessing every essence of beauty and femininity, yet the additional detail of her hair merging together to form a beard – a symbol of masculinity – immediately discards this and replaces it with an image of androgyny. It is simultaneously a union and a rejection of gender; what the artist is saying to us is this:

In the spiritual world, our gender is irrelevant, non-existent. Our bodies are just vessels for our souls. Male, female – we are all the same in our purest form.

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The reclining pose. The alluring gaze as if to say “come hither”. There is no mistaking the seductive content here, and although many may be distracted by feelings of arousal, Ali’s intentions were to use these feelings to convey a message of uttermost importance. Taking into consideration the connotations of the previous composition, this piece contrasts in meaning and displays the significance of sexuality as we live our lives in the physical world. Despite previously highlighting the absence of such things in the spiritual world, here the artist brings to light the fact that lust, flirtation and sex dominate our physical existence. Few people looking at this portrait will not experience, at the very least, mild arousal, and the beckoning stare encourages us to succumb to these forces. Ali has us under her spell, encapsulating the flames of desire within every human being in this single image. What makes this piece so outstanding is the way in which she promotes sexual desire and lust in such a positive light and it is made clear to us that these are not aspects of our lives to be ashamed of or ones we should attempt to resist.

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In this remarkable image we witness the duality of our spirit and physical selves. The right hand side of the portrait shows the calm, still half of Ali’s face which represents the physical presence – something that we are knowledgable of and comfortable with because we are able to see such things. The purpose of the distorted half is to illustrate the confusion, disruption and discomfort felt when faced with questions regarding the spiritual world because we cannot see this side of our lives. Like Ali in this portrait, we are lost in darkness.

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And finally, we arrive at Ali’s masterpiece. With use of a simple webcam feature, the layers of meaning are infinite. In some ways it bears many similarities to the previous portrait, depicting spiritual and physical aspects of life. Some say the space ship represents the human body, with Ali’s face, safe behind the mystical transparency of the glass, symbolising the soul. The soul is taken on a journey through the unknown, shown here as outer space. The mystery and wonder is endless; what we will see, where it shall end – questions that we cannot yet answer. In the meantime, we drift through the black wilderness until our soul can find the light.

It came as a shock to everyone that the beauty and insight found in these unique and innovative portraits came from a girl, no more than 18 years old. Ali said modestly of the ‘Webcam Highlights’ series:

“It’s just what I do in my spare time.”

The results of this “hobby” have touched the hearts of millions and the reception has been extraordinary. Ali’s admirers have said of her work:

“I cry every time.”
“Ali is stunning.”

If Ali’s work proves anything, it is that true art comes from within.