I finally gave in and downloaded the mobile dating app Tinder last week after months of resisting the pressure and hype. After five days of swiping left or right, shallow excitement over matches and fruitless messaging, I decided to delete my account and never look back. Although not an enjoyable experience, my time on Tinder opened my eyes to the unhealthy, narcissistic dating habits of our generation and how impersonal relationships have become.
In the past year, mobile dating apps like Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Coffee Meets Bagel have taken off and become a popular way for young people to meet potential mates. While the idea behind these apps is to get to know fellow singles in your area, meet up for a date and potentially start a relationship, the reality is very different from the intended goal. These apps have turned into narcissistic games of judging people based solely on their appearance. The purpose is to feel validated by attractive matches and chat with men and women with no real intention of getting to know them. The problem lies with how these applications are set up and marketed.
Tinder downloads your information, interests and pictures from Facebook to create a profile. You can sort through your photos to select the most attractive ones and write a few sentences about yourself. Once you have created your profile, the application will present you with a picture, age and location of a potential match. You then have the option to scroll through more of their pictures and read their information before swiping left or right. A swipe right means you accept them as a potential match, while a swipe left is a rejection. If you match with a person, you are both notified. And you now have the capability to exchange messages. But if you reject them, a big “NOPE” is stamped across their face and you will never see their profile again.
On average, it takes less than a minute to swipe left or right. You are able make a snap decision on potential compatibility based off of a few photos and sentences. If you match with another person, then a few shallow messages might be exchanged and a time may be set to meet up. With more than 10 million matches since December 2013, it is very likely that each profile has more than 30 matches at one time. It’s almost impossible to sustain 30 conversations at once, so typically only the most attractive matches are paid any attention. Tinder’s slogan is, “It starts here. Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.” The slogan encompasses the attitude that our generation has adopted toward dating. Gone are the days of meeting in person and dating based on compatibility and genuine interests.
Despite only launching last year, an estimated 450 million profiles are viewed per day, and membership grows by 15 percent every week. While Tinder never claims to produce long-term relationships, its growing popularity tells us that this form of dating is becoming normal. It’s true that people meet based off appearance and attraction. Sadly, dating in our generation has been reduced to a simple left or right swipe without regard to a person’s character, personality or intelligence. These relationships are rarely sustainable and have forced our generation to approach dating as a game. These unhealthy dating habits will surely have long-term negative effects as applications such as Tinder increase their membership.
Mobile dating has become so popular that business psychologists have coined a new term called “the Tinder effect.” Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic from University College, London, argues that apps like Tinder play into our evolutionary and social needs to compete and connect in a sexual and superficial way. He believes that Tinder profiles are hardly realistic and create unrealistic standards of attractiveness compared to the real world. Tinder wants us to believe that this new way of dating is better than real life. In reality, however, this selfish attitude can only lead to dissatisfaction and unhealthy relationships.
Natalie Pimblett is a junior political science major.