If you’re a man with a dating-app profile, a love for fishing and a devotion to showing everyone on the internet how impressive you are, you might be getting ranked on TikTok. Well, not you, exactly, but your fish.
Recently, women have been posting videos mercilessly in which they critique the fish in men’s dating profiles, and the videos have gone viral across TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.
The TikToks utilize the video-sharing app’s green-screen effect that allows users to upload screenshots and photos as a background, along with a distorted voice filter (a popular format used for “rating” anything on TikTok).
While the fish Tinder TikToks are becoming more popular now, the trend initially started back in May, when 29-year-old Cala Murray posted the first fish ranking video to the app. She has since spawned an entire subgenre of imitators.
##greenscreen ##voiceeffects ##fyp ##datingapp
? original sound – muesli_girl
Murray tells us “the rankings are completely arbitrary,” but there are a few qualities a dead fish should possess to rank higher than other dead fish. First, try not to be so dead-looking. Fish on the smaller side and not spewing blood also get points, while photos taken in the daytime are a must.
“Yeah, the nighttime ones are totally insane,” notes Murray. If the photo is relatively well-lit, and hence, a bit more flattering to the guy, those are the fish photos deemed more ‘wholesome’ and ‘pure.’”
“It kind of passes for a good photo, but still should not be put on a [dating] app in my opinion.”
In the past seven years, Murray has collected screenshots of all kinds of weird and cringe-y profiles on the dating app. “I was just fascinated by how people were presenting themselves, and I took a lot of screenshots,” she said. But with nowhere to put them, many fell by the wayside over the years. Save for the fish-men.
“Fish, in particular, I didn’t really start noticing until relatively recently, probably in the past couple of years. And I was saving those screenshots in particular pre-quarantine,” explains Murray.
It wasn’t until shelter-in-place orders began that Murray finally downloaded TikTok, though. After seeing how users were using the green-screen filter for other types of ranking videos — like parents rating their kid’s ex-boyfriends — she realized this format would be perfect for the fish-men screenshots.
And she was right. Murray’s first fish TikTok has accumulated more than 550,000 views, 100,000 likes and tons of comments from other women commiserating over one of the strangest dating-app phenomenons ever.
“I did not think it would get as much attention as it did. But I wasn’t surprised that it resonated with other women,” says Murray. “I was just like, ‘Oh, this makes a lot of sense, actually, that we’re all collectively having this experience.””
The ubiquitous trend has been mystifying women on dating apps for years. In 2018, The Cut went on a quest to find out why dating apps are so full of guys with fish. Elite Daily directly asked fish men on Tinder why they love sharing photos of themselves holding fish. The New Yorker‘s 2017 satirical essay “I Am a Tinder Guy Holding a Fish and I Will Provide for You” poked fun at the trend. There are so many men proudly showing off their deadliest catches on dating apps that there’s an entire Tumblr called Men With Huge Cods dedicated to them.
But it’s important to note that this isn’t mere mockery of the fish-wranglers’ beloved hobby.
“If someone said fishing was one of their interests, that would not be a turnoff to me,” says Murray. “But to need to prove that you’ve caught a fish is really funny to me. Just the act of posting the fish, there’s a certain level of self-awareness that’s just lacking.”
Since I, admittedly, don’t frequent the dating-app sphere enough to have strong feelings about internet strangers and their trophy catches, I tapped InsideHook’s resident dating-app expert, Kayla Kibbe, for her opinion on all the fish lurking around these apps.
“Fish Tinder has been pretty widely mocked for years now, so when I encounter a dude on Tinder holding a fish, I like to assume he must be doing it ironically. Like how could you not know at this point? But when there’s a fish involved, unfortunately there generally just doesn’t seem to be a lot of self-awareness elsewhere in the profile.”
Unless, of course, you are playing on a heightened plane of irony we mere landlubbers cannot recognize. Regardless, there’s a good chance the size of your fish is going to be judged.