“I really want for you to be my wife in paradise,” a man once wrote to his beloved. Who was this Casanova? None other than Osama bin Laden, a name synonymous with evil. But can his words land you a date on Tinder?
Among the many now-declassified documents from bin Laden’s compound was a handwritten letter to one of his wives, detailing his “last will,” should, say, his bedroom be raided by Navy SEALs. The note is filled with florid remarks, religious asides, and exhortations of jihad—but it’s still very much a love letter. So, given that Tinder is a dreary emotional tundra useful only for experiments (like this inspiring one), let’s answer this question: how will women respond to a conversation that consists purely of lines taken from the personal writings of Osama bin Laden?
I made a couple rules for myself: no added punctuation, but I could pick out sentence fragments. These rules are arbitrary, but so it is in love and the war on terror.
This might surprise you, but it was rough going—at first:
I thought Camila was into it after the opening line—”I hope you are well and all who are with you” was popular across the board—but after talking about the prisoners of the mujahidin, I was immediately blocked. Several other matches de-matched with me as soon as I mentioned paradise or addressed them as my wife.
Some matches were more open-minded, but clammed up as soon as I started dropping the heavy stuff:
Even people with whom I had an in went running once I started talking shop:
It would’ve been easy to lose hope. But, like Osama himself wrote, “be patient and strengthen yourself with faith.” I heeded those words, pressed on, and had a genuine breakthrough:
Wow. Love? Yeah, oh yeah—love, the dirtiest bomb of all. Maybe these people were just good sports, happy to be in on what they could tell was a joke—or maybe they were just as desperate for interaction—any interaction!—as literally everyone else on Tinder. But what did it mean that I was more popular and engaging, getting more animated and interesting responses from people on Tinder when I was letting Osama bin Laden talk through me instead of speaking for myself?
There was no denying I was really starting to reach people:
Osama bin Laden’s lines turned out to be great, if perhaps provocative icebreakers:
Was OBL a charmer?
Why did online strangers like me more in a casual romance setting when I quoted the words of a murderer?
As much as this seemed to both offer a new horizon for app-based flirting and confirm that Tinder is a supreme waste of time and emotional capacity, I had to wonder—what if using declassified love-prose from the personal documents of al Qaeda’s former commander-in-chief wasn’t worthwhile? What if, like so much else in life, the old, simpler ways were best?