For the record, I am not on Tinder nor have I ever taken the dating app seriously. Tinder entered the scene in 2012 and encourages strangers to create profiles, upload photos and swipe right and left on possible interested partners. Two people swiping right on each other indicates a match, allowing them to chat with each other for a certain amount of time.
No one my age that I know of takes Tinder seriously. For many Americans, including University of Massachusetts students, the app has redefined what it means to have casual sex. Many of my friends will use the app to kill time. Whether it is waiting for a professor to begin lecturing or for laundry to dry, countless students seem to use the app when they find they have nothing better to do.
The amount of time people spend on Tinder varies, and it is almost never built into a person’s schedule. Of course, there is a difference between killing time and wasting time. Friends of mine use Tinder for hookups; no one I know of uses it to engage in long-term relationships.
This is, of course, not to say that people don’t use the app for the purposes of dating. What I have found is that the Tinder experience differs based on the age of the user. My parents have been married for almost 30 years but have divorced friends that are on Tinder. A friend of my dad is on Tinder and has traveled the world with the women he met. In his mid-50s, this friend is not looking for casual sex, nor is he looking to date someone half his age. With four kids and a steady job, the app is the prime way to meet people given his busy work schedule.
Tinder has an estimated 50 million users with 10 million users every day, according to DMR. This amounts to roughly 1.6 billion swipes per day with the largest age block falling between ages 25-34, while 54 percent of users are single.
But this app goes well beyond meeting with others in rather intimate ways. It has continued to perpetuate laziness in people’s day-to-day lives. There is no bigger way of presenting yourself as a quitter than by initiating dialogue through a smartphone screen. In this case, the screen acts as both the center and the prime protector of the individual using the app. Instead of an assessment taking place through human interaction, it comes in the form of typed responses and photos, often accompanied by a brief biography. There seems to be an intimidation factor at play here. It is as if people are scared of others.
To a certain extent the app is demeaning, the definition of “judging a book by its cover.” Women objectify men, and men objectify women in order to seek pleasure. Tinder does more than just demean people, however; it creates unnecessary competition between individuals. It has created a language where swiping right or left means the same thing as approving or disapproving.
Perhaps the worst element of Tinder is not the reinvention of casual sex or the barely social element of meeting someone through a “match” but the insistence that love will be found on your mobile device. Of course the amount of time people spend on their phone is ridiculous to begin with. Tinder further incentivizes this usage, taking it to a whole new level.
I do not know how I will meet my future wife one day. All I know is that I will not be limiting my options to a swipe right or left.
Isaac Simon is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]