What is Tinder Really Doing for Dating?

Will you Swipe Left or Swipe Right?
Will you Swipe Left or Swipe Right?

We’ve all heard of Tinder, the social app that shot to fame as an easy way for tech-savvy single people to meet others in their area. It’s as simple as any dating app can get: you link your Facebook profile and the app populates your photos with your profile pictures from Facebook (decreasing odds of getting catfished). Once your profile is set up, you’re then presented with other Tinder users in your area. You can set the app up to show you members of either sex, and limit the results based on proximity too.

Users can then use the feature that Tinder has become known for: “Swipe Left” for “No” and to move on to the next user, and “Swipe Right” for “Yes”, indicating your interest in the other user, and then move on to the next. If you and another user both “Swipe Right” for each other, you’re a “Match” and can then start messaging each other, presumably to start getting to know each other and setting up dates. In essence, Tinder is speed-dating on a mobile platform, and many agree that it’s made dating easier. But what exactly is the app doing for relationships?

First off, Tinder relies on our growing reliance on social media to actually get anything done. It’s just another one of the hundreds of thousands of apps that rely on Facebook to work. Over the years, Facebook has become tied into everything from online shopping, to trying to find employment, with LinkdIn using Facebook to populate contacts as well. Blog posts from the company that launched mobile social gaming website Pocket Fruity also say that even the online gambling market is trying to move forward with integrating their games with Facebook. This increased reliance on social media has, unfortunately, been proven to be detrimental to healthy relationships. Studies have shown that connectivity via social media might be too much connectivity, and they have not just been shown to accelerate affairs, but elicit jealousy and insecurity as well.

30% of Tinder users are married.
30% of Tinder users are married.

Of course, most of the people who use Tinder are actually interested in hooking up with someone, right? After all, you wouldn’t be on the dating app if you were already in a relationship, right? Well, sadly, that’s not the case. Studies published by the Global Web Index show that 30% of all Tinder users are already married, and 12% are already in a relationship. And because the app shows you potential matches based on proximity, it wouldn’t be surprising to find people you already know on the app, and maybe even be presented with relatives and friends as potential matches.

And when you do find someone you aren’t related to or don’t already know and looks attractive enough, you’re presented with a choice to “Swipe Left” and never hear from them again, or “Swipe Right” and get chatting. And what do you have to go on? Not much, other than a few handpicked photos, and a short description authored by the user as well.

Does Tinder make us shallow? Willard Foxton thinks that there’s a chance it might. Having tried out the app, he found himself being largely ignored before a female friend told him, “You’ve used your Facebook profile picture, haven’t you? The one with you looking fat and quizzical? Also, in your bio, you say you’re looking for a relationship. Chubby and looking for a relationship? That’s a bad Tinder combination”. Once he’d switched to a more flattering photo and changed his bio to a witty one-liner, the matches came pouring through.

But the only date he managed to arrange was with a lady who met people on Tinder for fun, without really looking for anything special. Caroline Kent echoes the sentiment, saying that she found herself swiping through photos and discounting potential matches based on “weird fringes” and on being the shortest person in a group shot. And when she did manage to meet up with a stranger that a shared acquaintance assured was “a safe bloke,” it was for nothing more than sex, and neither she nor the guy made any effort to hide it.

Caroline also presents one of the most compelling observations about Tinder: “Tinder isn’t a dating app, it’s the Yellow Pages for ego-boosting one-night-stands.” Many of the people who go on Tinder aren’t there to actually meet someone who can change their life and begin a relationship with. Rather, they’re there to boost their own egos, and see how many people think they’re attractive enough for a Swipe Right. If that’s what you’re looking for, and you’re really just DTF, then you might have a good time on the app for a few days, but if you’re after an actual relationship and want to date someone seriously, you’re better off staying off of the app.

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