Have you seen this app yet?
It’s like online speed-dating – like Grindr but for heterosexuals. Essentially Tinder presents you with potential mates as determined by your location and you can either swipe them left (nope!) or right (like!) depending on how you feel about their five shared photos and tagline.
If both you and your potential mate have swiped right for each other then you get “matched”, meaning you are given the opportunity to send each other messages. It’s hilarious, addicting, and absurd all at once.
So we need to talk about Tinder.
Because while online dating is considered taboo or embarrassing for people my age, Tinder seems to be totally socially acceptable, if not really super popular.
There is very little commitment involved in both the process itself (download the free app and start swiping) and in the outcome (ie you aren’t expected to go on dates or even meet up with the people you’re matched with), so I guess young people don’t feel like they’re really online dating.
Many wouldn’t even associate Tinder with the word “dating” because in this type of low pressure, superficial world, people are just looking to hook up anyways.
My friend showed it to me less than a week ago, and I haven’t been able to stop swiping ever since. It’s addicting. A classic example of positive reinforcement in action.
Tinder invokes a “variable ratio reinforcement schedule”: your behavior (swiping through potential mates) is rewarded (you have a match!) after an unpredictable number of responses. You never know when you’ll get a match, so it keeps you swiping. It’s the most effective type of reinforcement – the same one that keeps us gambling at the casino.
There’s also the fact that Tinder offers endless entertainment. What absurdity or perfect southern stereotype am I going to encounter next?? I am personally shocked at the excess of fisherman we seem to have here in our very own landlocked city of Atlanta. Observe:
Same guy, four fish fotos:
Different guys, four fish fotos:
Maybe it’s a primal thing, like they want to prove they are expert hunters and fisherman so that us ladies can be assured that our future family won’t go hungry out in the wild. Or maybe it’s just a southern thing? Either way, I tend to prefer my wild animals alive.
I’m not sure that I think there is much harm to be done through the use of this app, unless of course you release too much personal information to wrong person or meet up with someone in a creepy situation. But that kind of thing can happen on any social network.
But on a more serious note, Tinder is fascinating because a) it’s interesting to see snapshots of people, presenting themselves how they want to be perceived in as few images and words as possible and b) it’s interesting to try to judge someone on somewhat of a deeper level through these superficial snapshots. (Although not all of us are doing this consciously, I think it’s still happening to some extent.)
You can really know a lot about someone from just a few photos and words; and there is something to be said for being able to judge in this very premature way whether you could connect or not with a stranger.
I would love to see some statistics on the real-life effects of this virtual tool. Anyone out there have an interesting Tinder-tale to tell?