Tinder: Socially Accepted Internet Dating?
Despite websites like Match.com and eHarmony boasting striking statistics which include higher satisfaction in marriage and lower divorce rates, internet dating still holds an incredible amount of stigma in the public eye. There is an undeniable, albeit unfounded, belief that online dating should be the last resort to find a partner.
The conventions of our social structure dictate that we meet our partner, we spend time getting to know them, and, when the time is right, they become a permanent fixture in our lives through marriage. Counter-intuitively to the effervescent revolutionaries our generation likes to believe they are, when it comes to relationships we remain entrenched in our traditional practices and unwilling to battle against the norms… then along came Tinder.
For those of us who aren’t yet obsessed with the app, let me break it down for you: first download Tinder to your phone, then give information to Tinder via Facebook, choose up to five photos, write a clever personal description, then choose you gender/age/distance from you for your potential matches, connect. That’s it.
Compared to traditional online dating, Tinder is sexy and fun. Think Mila Kunis and Ryan Gosling kind of sexy: that real kind of sexy we all think (and pray) we might have an actual shot with—if only we’d get the chance to meet them—doing whatever it is you enjoy the most. But more than fun and sexy, it feels anonymous and harmless. Suddenly, it’s not just a sexy star, it’s a sexy star in a dark movie theatre who thinks that you and the comedy you’re watching are pretty darn awesome. It’s a powerful sense of security, excitement and mystery wrapped in a palm-sized present.
Being honest about the nuts and bolts of attraction
Jonathan Badeen, co-founder of Tinder, must know that online dating is thought of as being reserved for the desperate. To combat this view, Tinder has been made and marketed to be fun. Instead of creating over-the-top, unnecessarily long profiles, detailing your goals, dreams, dog’s name, childhood best friend, shoe size, and favourite colour, Tinder relies on the hard truth we all pretend isn’t a huge part of our relationship development: attraction.
It has been proven time and time again that physical attractiveness is the first thing we notice about the opposite sex. We are genetically programmed to look at and look longer at attractive people. This fact shows us that it doesn’t matter if we speak three languages, work at a fast-foot restaurant, or are 30 pounds heavier than the actors we see on television. If the photographs you have on your profile are seen as attractive you will have more matches.
There will always be people who judge Tinder the way that Hot or Not was judged and those that think of it as a glorified beauty contest and, you know what, it is a little bit. But really, isn’t traditional online dating just the same? Regardless of the medium we, as a species, are truly superficial. For all we know, the information you give in your online profile is a total lie and surely, the vast majority of the population are willing to look beyond a few ‘minor’ character flaws for a good set of tits or a sexy smile. The amount of effort and vulnerability that comes with exposing yourself across a medium like the internet, which is wholly accessible to the general population, is terrifying. We are always warned that ‘once it’s on the internet, it’s out there forever. How could anyone blame us for wanting to maintain a bit of integrity and anonymity, especially when it comes to our personal lives?
For a generation constantly in communication, we are awfully concerned about how people look at us. We tweet, email, status update, and link our entire world to those around us. Tinder understands and capitalizes on our egocentric world-view, but doesn’t broadcast our insecurity. Tinder uses the information and photos you have on Facebook to create your profile but does not link your Facebook page with Tinder. No one on your news feed will know you’ve joined, made a match, or been declined. Moreover, in a real stroke of genius, Tinder ensures that not even you will know if you’ve been declined. We are not only safe from the judgments of our peers, but our precious egos are safe from self-judgment.
No Awkward getting to know you message: just click! get clicked! and go!
All users have to do is click the left or right of the screen. It’s as simple as that. Do I think you’re attractive? Click right. Not so much? Click left. Our split-second decision making skills allow us to quickly scan through the profile of other users without having to put much thought into it. Tinder profile scanning is basically the best game of Duck, Duck, Goose you’ve ever played. If two people right-swipe yes and match is made, private chat is made available. Simple, fun, no harm, no foul (no, fowl?). I haven’t ever met a Tinder match in real life. Having spent an alarming amount of my time watching Criminal Minds and Law and Order, I know that’s not going to be in the cards for me, but I have been told more than enough stories to know that, chances are, my matches aren’t sadistic serial killers.
Granted there will always be horror stories of Tinder dates gone awry—my favourite involves a friend who met one of her matches and he consistently talked about his Irritable Bowel Syndrome—but, unlike traditional online dating, you can make Tinder as frivolous or meaningful as you choose. That ever-prevalent stigma I mentioned earlier, essentially, ensures that anyone on traditional online dating websites will be looking for their partner. Why would anyone open themselves up to the harsh judgments typically associated with internet dating unless they were looking for a serious life partner? But Tinder… Tinder understands us: the thrill is in the chase or, in Tinder’s case, the choosing.
Tinder claims to have make more than six million matches every day, numerous engagements, and more than 100 marriages since the app launched in October 2012. Is Tinder going to bring me any closer to finding that elusive ‘love of my life’ to fulfill me? Probably not. I’m not looking for that, and maybe that’s why it won’t function that way for me. But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the simple pleasure we get from finding an attractive guy who also thinks I’m not too hard to look at. So Charlie the gym-buff, with three photos of him kissing his biceps, didn’t pan out and the conversation with Tom the real estate agent didn’t progress beyond “Whatchu doing tonight, baby?”—come tomorrow Tinder will refresh and there will be an entirely new group of profiles to get through, matches to make, and fun to be had.
Oh Tinder, you saucy fellow, you really do understand me, don’t you?