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The Question: Is Tinder good?

Two perspectives on the dating app Tinder
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File photo: JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY
File photo: JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY

   Tinder is only a passing fancy; it’s not a replacement for face to face interaction

The recent popular explosion of the Tinder app is a logical development of smart-phone culture. Considering that “hooking up” is a primary concern of many young people, it is only natural that modern technology would come to streamline this process. The Tinder app embraces this mindset on its Facebook page with the slogan, “It’s how people meet.” 

Arguing for the merit of Tinder, one could justifiably claim that the extreme busyness and relative social alienation of urban life makes an easy means to meet a wide variety of people a relative good. While I wouldn’t dispute this line of reasoning, I doubt whether Tinder is indeed an enhanced means of socialization. My impression, after discussing the Tinder experience with friends and using the app casually, is that Tinder tends to operate on a shallow level. While exceptions undoubtedly exist, Tinder’s structure doesn’t seem to generally facilitate deep human engagement. 

One reason for this is that Tinder implicitly encourages its users to be inorganic in their social interactions. Since the goal for most users is to make as many matches as possible, the impetus for personal use becomes to seem as attractive as possible. 

In some sense, winning the Tinder game means appealing to the lowest common denominator of likeability. The prevalence of Tinder headshot experts and guides to making a good profile speaks to a general desire for the Tinder masses to consume your profile in a positive way.  While Tinder idealists might claim that people are simply looking for a good match, an equally common motivation is the desire for social and sexual validation. 

With each match we make, Tinder reminds us that people out there like us and find us attractive. Even if we go no further, we’ve received some evidence of our attractiveness.  

The problem is that this validation is basically shallow as it’s based in such an objectified version of one’s self. The initial good feeling is ephemeral unless it is succeeded by direct, face-to-face interaction. In my experience, this is where Tinder relationships tend to stall. After being guided painlessly through the introduction process, users must engage on a deeper level than mutual profile approval. In a way, the user is right back where he or she started, having to negotiate the excitement and pitfalls of romantic relationships by themselves. 

While many people enjoy natural text conversations and fulfilling meet-ups, this seems to be the exception, not the rule. The majority of my acquaintances that use Tinder say they are just in it for a laugh. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a frivolous distraction, not an important means for finding a partner. 

In this case, it’s best that we call a spade a spade, instead of entertaining notions that Tinder will transform the dating world. Tinder is limited because it all comes back to the inherent difficulties of face-to-face interaction.

Lee Eames is a fourth-year student at Innis College studying contemporary Asian studies.

   Mobile dating apps work because they give users a choice

I was walking up St. George Street one day when I was stopped suddenly by another student pedestrian. His reason for stopping me was just to tell me that he thought I was cute, and that he was interested in taking me out on a date. When I politely declined, he tried again. His intentions changed when I told him that I was seeing someone. Instead of ending the conversation, he switched gears and asked me for my number because he wanted to get to know me better as a friend. Whatever his intentions were that day, he wouldn’t be satisfied without getting my contact information. 

This was not the first time I had to deal with this type of interaction in real life, and it definitely won’t be the last. In the real world, there is no way of predicting when these unwanted interactions might occur, and when they do, shutting them out is difficult. However, with apps like Tinder, users have some say over who they connect with online. 

For some reason, some people think of Tinder as being the perfect platform upon which to try out sexist or otherwise offensive pickup lines on strangers. Whenever I receive a message that goes beyond the standard greeting, perhaps offering an insensitive line, commenting on my race or physical appearance, such as, “I only swipe right for Asian women,” I don’t even bother responding. Why should I? Instead, I block that user, and prevent them from contacting me again.

If this happened in real life, the best thing I could do is ignore them. Sure, some might encourage me to take these types of comments as compliments, not to be taken too seriously. Either way, when you are left face-to-face with another human being on the street, there is no block option. On Tinder, the only people who can message me are those who I have matched with by making myself available to be contacted. If a mutual match says something that rubs me the wrong way, I have the ability to block them. 

As a female, I am constantly aware of the risks of walking alone at night, of drinking too much at parties, or of leaving a drink unattended. I have been cautioned to walk with keys clenched in my fist in case anything were to happen. 

We all grew up learning about the dangers of meeting people we’d been introduced to online, but in the modern age, apps like Tinder can be really useful for connecting with people while shuttering out all of the extra noise. Tinder is bringing more choice to their users when it comes to expressing a romantic interest and contacting new people. As opposed to the awkwardness of a random face-to-face interaction, Tinder allows people to form a bond and have a conversation before they decide to meet. 

Sofia Luu is a fourth-year student at Victoria College studying diaspora and transnational studies, as well as book and media studies.