Today I got on Twitter and saw a rant about how social media and Tinder are killers of genuine love and courtship. One of the quotes included was this: “We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless.”
Well, yes—but only if that human being wants to be ordered up.
To get some perspective, here’s a quick example of how Tinder works. If I had an account, I would open up the app and would be shown a picture (or pictures) of a guy who is also using Tinder somewhere geographically close to me. I would be provided with the last time he was on Tinder, how many miles away he is, his name, age, and a short bio he wrote himself.
If I decided he wasn’t for me, I would swipe left and a huge “NOPE” would appear on his face and I’d be presented with another candidate. If I liked what I saw, I would swipe right. If he came across me on Tinder and also swiped right, we would both get a notification that we were a “match” and then could message each other on the app.
This dating app faces a lot of criticism, and I’m here in defense of Tinder and similar apps.
To me, Tinder’s greatest asset is that it’s based on mutual interest. Users have to give their permission for conversation by swiping right before their matches get the chance to talk to them. No more creepy, one-sided “Hey ;)” messages like the ones that appear in your Facebook inbox from a guy you went to middle school with and haven’t seen in six years. Sometimes Tinder matches do take it too far (Google “creepy Tinder conversations” if you want a good laugh), but not replying is always a viable option.
Tinder often gets judged for its shallowness based on the fact that the only information provided generally focuses on the surface level features of a person. I read an article today written by Catfish creator Nev Schulman in which he said, “Tinder basically ensures that the only thing you have in common with your ‘match’ is owning smartphones and being in the general proximity. Oh, and maybe being DTF.”
So what? Tinder’s tagline is “It’s how people meet.” It’s not promising anything else. It’s probably not the best method of online dating for those whose goal is to find a real relationship (though it does happen sometimes). Users know damn well what they’re getting into when they start swiping left or right.
Forbes estimated that 50 million people use Tinder a month and 15 million matches are made each day. The app is projected to make $75 million in 2015. It’s not going anywhere. I’m not advocating that everyone gets Tinder and utilizes it. I’m just saying that it might be time to stop blaming Tinder and the likes for their lack of genuine romance when their purpose isn’t to find you your future husband or wife.
The best-case scenario with Tinder? You get a confidence boost, kill some time in an entertaining way, talk to some interesting people, and maybe go on a few dates—some of which might lead to something more.
The worst-case scenario? James, the smokin’ hot 22-year-old who loves to hike and play lacrosse won’t stop messaging you asking if you want your muffin buttered. Life could be much worse.