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I used Tinder at Firefly Music Festival — this is what happened

To make things a little interesting, let’s say one adds Tinder — a draining virtual version of socializing on steroids — to an equally as, albeit physical, oppressive situation, a music festival. You’ve got a match made in comatose heaven.

Tinder is exhausting. There's the swiping. There's the examining of profiles, pictures, wading through the swarms of inflated egos, and delusions of grandeur that one might have an inoffensive sense of humor. There's the actual conversing with people via text. There's the realization that someone you find attractive, and who also finds you attractive as well, may just be a wet blanket or a profoundly terrible person. It's not a matter of if something will get lost in translation, it's a matter of when.

But according to the New York Times, close to 50 million individuals regularly use the dating app (now going public) as of November 2014, swiping right on someone they're potentially interested in, or left on a pass. That results in some 26 million matches made each day, with over 8 billion matches since the app's rollout in 2012, Tinder says. In short, there's a lot of interest, regardless of mental burnout.

Where Tinder incites fatigue of the psyche, multi-day music festivals inspire a well-worth physical weariness. Like a Sam's Club for live performances and obnoxious personality traits, you're getting everything in bulk. Of course there's the convenience of getting a bunch of artists together that wouldn't ordinarily share a bill, but there's the crowds, the weather, the fashion choices.

Don't get me wrong — neither of the two are the most offensive culprits in a world of social media and pop-culture overload. Not even close. I can say that I've wholeheartedly enjoyed both experiences independently. But what's the fun in that?

To make things a little interesting, let's say one adds Tinder — a draining virtual version of socializing on steroids — to an equally draining (albeit physically) venue, a music festival. You've got a match made in comatose heaven — that is, if you don't know how to use the marriage of both to your advantage.

It was just after 2 p.m. on Friday, June 19. A colleague, Colin, and I were on our way from Philly to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del., a four-day festival now in its fourth year, with around 90,000 expected to attend.

A few days prior, Colin threw out the idea that we Tinder it up at Firefly — take the world of micro dating and put it in a Petri dish. Rather then go on the prowl for a booty call or life-long partnership, I suggested we use our matches as survivalist liaisons, utilizing the unsuspecting men and women who deemed us worthy enough of a right swipe for their tents, hotel rooms, food and booze selections.

Tinder hooked me up with a premium subscription, Tinder Plus — a paid add-on that allows for unlimited right swiping, the ability to set Dover (or any other chosen locale) as my swiping location through the Passport feature, and to be able to undo a mistaken swipe — that's called Rewind. And thus, I was ready for the ultimate matchmaking journey.

As we sat in Chipotle and began our swiping over burrito bowls, Colin and I set a few basic — and easily negotiable — ground rules:

  1. Set radius at a cozy 0-10 mile distance

  2. Include our Firefly attendance in bio

  3. Be selective with right swiping

  4. Don't be as selective as you ordinarily would, though

  5. Mention of Firefly in one's bio — swipe right

  6. Looks like they might be a musician, crew member or vendor — swipe right

  7. Message all matches, usually consisting of an utterly ridiculous icebreaker

  8. Do not be shy, meek or unassuming

  9. Request food, a place to stay, companionship

  10. Do not allow Tinder and persons associated to dictate the course of your day

As I began to make my way through the hundreds of profiles, it became more apparent the value of being a woman in this situation. Once I'd built up a solid amount of right swipes, the matches started rolling in. Colin, though definitely experiencing success, did not fare as well. Compared to my 28 matches by weekend's end, he only managed to score eight including a sex robot.

Based on our aforementioned rules, the process quickly became less about swiping and more about maintaining a conversation with the pool of potential donors to our self-serving charity operation. The men I'd conspired with, for the most part, were rather generous. I got offers for butt gropes, a stay in an air-conditioned RV, shots, snacks, a dinner of grilled hot dogs (per my request), a few more hospitable offers of tent-stays, one date proposition, and a few pleas for fries from McDonald's. Some tried to meet me in the Hammock Hangout, the Beercade, the vendor locations where they were working, and at Kygo's set. A musician on Friday's lineup, whose stunning 2014 album incited some heart-wrenching feels, suggested I check out his set — it was going to "be really pretty." After a few more exchanges, I sent him Drake lyrics and likely scared him off. I really thought we were getting somewhere. (Consider this your Missed Connection.)

Colin, too, was a fan of the Drake lyric tactic. He utilized the move on three women who were likely just as confused as my victim. However, all of his matches seemed only interested in idle chitchat, and not out to help the downtrodden festivalgoer. One wanted him to bring her champagne. He didn't take the bait.

I took up no offers. Mostly out of laziness and an unwillingness to leave Colin high and dry. Instead I told most to meet me at specific stages for certain performers. A few actually did.

Instead, Colin and I headed back to Philly, unused tent still in the trunk of my car.

It's fascinating to know there's this whole other virtual world that's thriving in between the hoards of festivalgoers making their way from stage to stage, adorned in colorfully rimmed sunglasses and Flash tattoos. In the midst of Morrissey's veganistic preachings or Steve Aoki's theatrics, there are thousands swiping, matching and chatting, hoping to get lucky — or in my case, find some snacks and a place to sleep.

During Firefly alone, festivalgoers' busy swiping fingers brought the tally of right and left swipes to nearly 1 million swipes, according to data compiled by Tinder. That resulted in some 30,000 messages exchanged, a playful back-and-forth in order to ensure a tent-side hookup. The most staggering statistic comes when comparing Tinder usage during Firefly with a non-festival weekend. Between the weekend of June 12-14 and Firefly, June 18-21, Tinder in Dover, Del. saw a 472% increase in usage. Sure, that has a lot to do with the 90,000 attendees (and maybe Delaware isn't the most happening spot for love), but hey — that's a lot of activity.

A similar thing happened at Coachella back in April. On the first weekend alone (April 10-12), the app was utilized 300% more in Palm Springs and Indio, Calif., compared to the weekend prior, a non-festival weekend.

It's a bizarre game of cat and mouse, a high-stakes Marco Polo with the veiled potential of some sort of fulfillment, sexual or otherwise, and the occurrence isn't just limited to music festivals. Tinder users in Brazil during last summer's World Cup spent almost 50% more time swiping and chatting on the app. (And let's not forget the Tinder-mania in the Olympic Village for the 2014 Winter Games.)

But it's as simple as this: Any time more people congregate densely in one area, they are more likely to score a Tinder match … or several.

As my mind cleared from the dizzying bevy of matches, swipes and messages, I looked back on my descent into Tinder madness. In theory, the idea is a good one: Utilize the closeness the festival provides. From the app's designed principle to Colin's and my made-up scavenger hunt, there are a plethora of opportunities to take the weekend from a music-based affair into a merry-go-round of fraternizing. And it's clear by the numbers that that's what many were hoping to do.

But for those looking to get luckier next time — perhaps at Made in America — bring snacks.