Tinder: The App that's Catching Fire

 

written by Katherine Caspersz

Hello listeners! I’m Katherine Caspersz, and once again, you’re listening to InQuery.

So today, we’re talking about Information and Communication Technologies, commonly known as “ICTs”.

ICT” is an umbrella term that covers any kind of communication device or application. This can include things like radio, television, cell phones, social media apps like Twitter or Instagram, GPS systems like the ones in your car… The possibilities are endless. In today’s show, I want to talk about one particular kind of ICT, and that is online dating sites.

Now, you’ve probably heard of a few popular sites, like OkCupid, Match.com, or Plenty of Fish. Maybe you’ve even used them, yourself. The one I’d like to talk about today is fairly new, and it’s called Tinder.

Tinder is an app-based dating site, available for download in the App store. In recent months it has been mentioned in major publications like Psychology Today, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and Marie Claire.

So what’s with all the buzz?

Tinder, unlike its competitors, has completely changed the dating game by making it just that: a game. Tinder’s app design is very similar to that of a game, where you swipe left to “pass” someone or indicate that you are uninterested, swipe right to “like” someone, or indicate that you are interested, and swipe UP to “SUPER-like” someone, which would indicate that you are VERY interested. If you and a member of the opposite sex both “like” each other, you have a match.

Tinder is the heterosexual version of Grindr, an app where you can meet available gay, lesbian, or bisexual people in your vicinity. And, despite launching only last year, an estimated “450 million profiles are rated every day and membership is growing by 15% each week.” (quote from theguardian.com)

Tinder uses GPS to locate your location, and suggest potential matches in your area. Your Facebook information is used to create your profile. “Your profile is made up of your first name, your age, photos (of your choice) and any pages you've 'liked' on Facebook. Recently, Tinder also added a feature that lets you share your education and occupation in your bio - so you can see if you share common interests with potential matches.” (quote from marieclaire.com)

According to Tinder’s website, Tinder is “how people meet… Like real life, but better.” (gotinder.com)

Thats quite the promise to make. I personally didn’t understand all the hype surrounding the app, so I thought the best thing to do would be to check it out myself.

I put myself out on Tinder as a single girl looking for a potential partner. The attractiveness of the app, in my experience, comes from its accessibility; anyone can use it, the interface is clean and easy to view, and Tinder really holds up its promise of “No pressure, no rejection;” all swipes you make on Tinder are anonymous, unless you and someone else both like each other. When that happens, Tinder will let you know you have a match.

Not only that, but only your matches can speak with you over the app. Users who are new to the dating scene don’t have to worry about being bombarded with messages from strangers.

I used Tinder for about 2 weeks, and in that time I can definitely say I felt the effects of its addictive qualities. In fact, Tinder has many of the same qualities of other addictive apps, like Twitter or Instagram.

Its easy to view a hundred matches in one sitting, just swiping and swiping until you see something you like. Time breaks down while you’re immersed in the realm of Tinder; when you try to break away, in-app notifications are always pulling you back. While I didn’t have any successful interactions—mainly because I wasn’t actually looking to date—many of the people I talked to said that they did. Now, I only talked with about 10 people for this assignment, but they all said that they had successful matches with the app. One of my subjects, Kyle, who didn’t mind me using his name, said that for only three weeks of using the app he had about 60 matches, and of those 60, 10 were relatively successful.

But how are people matched on Tinder? Would those same people ever meet in real life? How is Tinder affecting love and interactions in the so-called “technosexual era” of 2015?

The people I spoke to about their use of tinder all said the same thing: they would not talk to people in real life the way they would on the app. In an anonymous poll I conducted on Twitter, 75% of voters agreed that they would not talk to people face-to-face in the same manner that they do online. Where’s the disconnect?

It seems that people are more comfortable online, because they don’t have to face the reaction that they’d naturally get from saying certain things. Because of this, they can say things they normally wouldn’t say face-to-face.

I interviewed one of my male friends, Xavier, who also said I could use his name in the show, and he said that he wouldn’t act the same way he does online in face-to-face settings because, as he puts it, “there is certain way you carry yourself online that you cannot do in real life. You feel more confident [online] and care less about consequences or [being respectful].”

Is this the Tinder effect? Is the gamification of our love lives turning us into socially inept, isolated creatures?

Some of you listeners might still be wondering why all the fuss over a little app. Well, if you haven’t actually tried it yourself, you might not be aware of the other reasons Tinder works so well.

First, according to The Guardian on the psychology of dating in 2015, hookup apps have become “more arousing than actual hook-ups” (the guardian.com)

What? What we just heard was that the process of finding a partner, which here would be swiping through singles on Tinder, is actually more arousing for us than physically being with a partner?

So it seems like the process of finding a partner has been gamefied—been turned into a game. This is why people find themselves addicted to the app—because the process of “tindering” is more attractive to us than actually finding a match.

Just look at actor Leonardo Di Caprio, who uses Tinder under the pseudonym “Leonard.” He was recently quoted in MarieClaire, saying that he's 'obsessed with swiping on girls and seeing who's out there.” ( marieclaire.com) Even Leo is addicted to the app.

The article from The Guardian also explains some of the other psychological effects of Tinder:

Not only does Tinder provide more arousal than actual dating, it actually emulates the dating world.

Like in real life, on Tinder you judge a person based on their looks. The only difference is that on Tinder you can assess the looks of hundreds of partners, whereas in real life you are limited to two potential matches or so. Just like the social dynamics in a bar, “Tindering comprises a series of simple and intuitive steps: you first assess the picture, then you gauge interest and only then you decide to start a (rudimentary) conversation.” Thats a quote from the article in the Guardian, written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (check it out here).

Another reason why Tinder works so well is because of the range of partners it makes available to its users. In real life, a person is confined to the area they live in, and the people they meet in this area. But on Tinder, you can search for matches that are up to 100 miles away. This is especially useful for those who live in isolated rural areas. Or, for people who live in dense cites, you can restrict the search to a smaller 15 mile-radius.

One of my interview subjects, Jon, who is 20 years old, said that he is always looking for girls “outside of Brampton,” (where he lives), because he’s tired of meeting the same people, and being confined to the same pool of potential partners.

So does Tinder hold up to its claim? Is it “like real life, but better”?

Experts are calling Tinder and dating sites like it “the dawn of the dating apocalypse”…but why? It could be because this is yet another way we fuel our instant-gratification-loving culture. Things seem to have gotten so bad that we can’t even wait for love and intimacy anymore.

And what about the negative psychology of Tinder? Is the idea of easily-accessed, in-disposable sex partners hurting men and women? And how does a lack of intimacy psychologically affect the relationships that Tinder creates?

In a recent interview with MTV news, Clinical psychologist Dr. Wendy Walsh, who specializes in the psychology of love, sex and gender roles, explained why having more than the natural selection of partners available to us might not be in our best interests.

She says that as homo sapiens, we used to move in groups of 35 or 40, and that in our lifespan, we would never meet more than 150 other humans.

Compare that with today, where, because of travel advancements, we can meet many more than 150 people in our lives. Now add technological advancements into the equation, and you’re looking at the possibility of meeting or interacting with hundreds of people* a year.*

But, despite these advancements, people don’t even seem interested in actually meeting at all.

According to findings from Walsh, as many as two-thirds of Tinder matches don’t even show up for dates.

She says, “The matching game has become so much fun, the texting each other [has become] so much fun, they don’t even take things into the real world.” (MTV news)

So the Tinder effect seems to create more chances for finding partners, but ultimately deplete our drive to actually *meet *with those potential partners.

So here’s the question: Is Tinder the best way to interact in 2015? It seems to have affected interactions by stopping them altogether. Body language has become "swiping." Conversations have become faceless chats. But it's easy to see the appeal. Why meet in public when you can flirt with a stranger from the comfort of your own bed?

So Tinder affects us in ways we don't even realize. By blurring the line between "love" and "game," it has become one of 2015's most addictive dating sites. And, while I don't mean to discourage you, users should be aware: Tinder is a totally limitless, undefined environment, like many dating sites. It only allows for the inauthentic kind of conversation that takes place between your fingertips. 
Having said that, the odds are in your favour; there are over 50 million people on Tinder each month. The love of your life could be just a swipe away.

 

References:

Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. “The Tinder Effect: Psychology of Dating in the Technosexual Era.” 17. Jan. 2014. Web 12 Nov. 2015

Fischer, Claude S. *Lurching Toward Happiness in America. *MIT Press, 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015

Hitsch, Günter J., Ali Hortaçsu, and Dan Ariely. “Matching and Sorting in Online Dating.” *The American Economic Review. *100.1 (2010): 130-163. Web. 20 Nov. 2015

Lechtenberg, Suzie. “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating: a New Freakonomics Radio Podcast.” 06. Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015

Newall, Sally. “Tinder: the Online Dating App Everyone’s STILL Taling About.” http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/543941/tinder-the-online-dating-app-that-everyone-s-talking-about.html> 13. Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015

Schacter, Hannah. “Love Me Tinder: A Psychological Perspective on Swiping.” 16. April. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015

Schaefer Riley, Naomi. “Tinder is Tearing Society Apart.” 16. Aug. 2015. Web.

 

Audio:

Sergey Cheremisi - "Mother's Hands"

Psychdelik Pedestrian - "Catching Rays" 

Steve Combs - "Yes And"

Ketsa - "Midnight"

Scott Holmes - "Fish Bowl"

Blue Dot Session- "Burst of Light" 

Scott Gratton - "The Fourth" 

All retrieved from Free Music Archive (freemusicarchive.org)