If you’ve been single in the last five years, chances are you’ve used Tinder. Or Bumble. Or Grindr. Or OKCupid. Let’s face it – the list of dating apps is in no short supply and the list of potential Tinderellas or Mr. Right Swipes is never ending. Despite being up for around five years now, Tinder remains one of the fastest growing apps: According to their blog (that’s right, Tinder has a blog!), the number of users on Tinder grew by over 11% between December 2016 and January 2017! The online world has become a huge part of our daily lives on an increasingly personal level, to the point where online dating and apps have become the norm.
How does Tinder work?
Using Tinder is quite simple. You create a profile with 1-6 photos of yourself and a short biography using your Facebook profile to ensure legitimacy. You will also have the option of linking your Instagram and Spotify accounts for your potential matches to browse. Once you’ve created a profile, you’ll be able to swipe through the profiles of other users. A swipe to the right is a like, while a swipe to the left is a pass, a swipe up and you’ll “super like” someone. The “super like” feature is intended to help you get noticed by the people you really like but, in my experience, it mainly just happens by accident. When you and another user both right swipe each other, it’s a match! You will now be able to chat and interact with each other. Unlike traditional (and I use the word traditional in the loosest sense here) dating apps, Tinder strays away from the standard Question and Answer format and instead reverts to the idea that the ultimate deciding factor in finding a mate is based on looks. There is no real criteria to base where the likes and passes come from other than whether or not other users like the way you present yourself in your profile.
Is dating online a good thing?
As with anything, there are definite pros and cons to dating online on apps such as Tinder. Variety and seemingly endless options paired with a level of anonymity are definite benefits of using an app. For people who can be a little bit shy, Tinder offers an opportunity to meet the love of your life in a way that minimizes the pressure as it’s a casual, semi-anonymous chat. One of the reasons why Tinder has been such a success is because people often end up with mates equally as good looking as them, research shows. Part of the allure of an app like Tinder is the idea that perhaps it is possible to accurately predict the qualities, such as extroversion or self esteem or emotional stability, of a total stranger based off of a few photos. According to Christina Bloom, an entrepreneur who develops dating apps, “it all starts with the face. People say, ‘from the first time I met him, I knew.’ There’s a sense of recognition… it’s what we call chemistry”.
Of course, the superficial notion that looks alone will create a happy relationship does not bode well with everyone. Is it even possible to create a relationship with someone with a complete lack of intimate knowledge, or really any knowledge about them at all aside from a carefully crafted selection of photos and a few short lines about themselves? Perhaps this is where the idea of using Tinder as a hookup app comes in: people don’t want or care to get to know the people they are swiping right on, they just want to have sex. Although it wasn’t created by Tinder, hookup culture has certainly been proliferated by the app. With the ability to have sex literally at our fingertips, has it become all too easy? Is Tinder the beginning of the end of romantic courtship? “We are in uncharted territory” when it comes to Tinder et al., says Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.” So, it is easy to see that the impact of Tinder has been huge in terms of societal norms. In a society that has short attention spans and values speed, Tinder provides instant gratification; it’s essentially online shopping for the perfect (sexual) partner. This sheer ease of achieving results coupled with the millions of users worldwide which leave you with an endless stream of possible matches is how Tinder proliferates hookup culture, making it’s users less inclined to treat their matches as a person and more as a quick fix who is all too disposable.
It’s within reason to say that Tinder has made meeting – and having sex with – people all too easy, but Tinder has simultaneously created this paradox where it’s now harder to connect with people. It’s created a society where we want the physical part of the relationship, but we’re now afraid of “catching feelings” and run away screaming when the emotional aspects of a relationship come creeping up as they inevitably would.
It’s possible that I’m speaking as a hopeless romantic in the age of Netflix and Chill, or perhaps Tinder has completely revolutionized dating in the last five years. Perhaps social norms have simply changed so quickly in the realm of dating that in order to stay caught up on what’s acceptable, one always needs to be adapting and paying attention to the latest changes. Social media is arguably the most incredible phenomenon of the twenty first century – it holds the power to change things. Tinder is not unlike any other social media platform in that it’s capable of harnessing this power. Maybe the app has used this power to an extent that it has completely changed social norms by eradicating the days of love letters and throwing rocks on windows and replaced them with super likes and 2 am “u up?” texts. While Tinder can be a fun way to meet people or, if you’re lucky, create a relationship that will last, it’s sucking the romance out of dating. The thing with love is, you can’t choose who you will fall in love with. In a fast paced world, we’re missing out on all the things that Rom Coms are made of in lieu of convenience – we shouldn’t be settling for dates without romance, let’s bring back good old fashioned love!
What’s your view of dating apps like Tinder? Comment down below!
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