The concept is simple — if you like the person’s picture, you swipe right. If you don’t, you swipe left. If you and another swipe right on each other’s photo, it’s a match. You can now begin a conversation with this person.
Tinder is a free mobile application for iOS and Android devices that allows the user to communicate with mutually interested users based on location. By matching people who mutually like each other, it reduces the user’s chance of rejection. The application was released on Sept. 12, 2012 by Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen. Initially, the application was available only to the University of Southern California, but it quickly expanded to other college campuses and the general public.
Tinder uses your Facebook profile to collect your information and photos. It then tries to display candidates to you who it believes is compatible based on mutual Facebook friends, geographical location and common interests. Since its official release, Tinder is now available in 30 languages and as of April 2015, users swipe through 1.6 billion profiles and have more than 26 million matches every day.
In March 2015, Tinder released an update to the public that instilled an algorithm that limits the number of “right swipes” a user can make in a 12 hour time period. Many Tinder users were annoyed with this new algorithm limiting their number of swipes, but the implementation proved to be beneficial for the application’s users. Shortly after the update occurred, TechCrunch published a report examining the positive effects the new limitation had on Tinder users. “Ten days into launch [of the update], Tinder is seeing a 25 percent increase in the number of matches per right swipe, and a 25 percent increase in the number of messages per match. Plus, spam bots have decreased more than 50 percent since launch.”
Unfortunately, like most dating applications, Tinder has a lot of social stigma behind it.
The idea of matching up with someone solely based on looks makes people feel embarrassed to admit they use the application for anything more than just entertainment purposes. Because of this, Tinder is seen as a joke and isn’t viewed as a serious means of finding a potential partner for a new relationship. This has led to people creating parody accounts that mock Tinder, such as Tinder Nightmares on Instagram. It showcases conversations people have had through Tinder that ended up as, well, a nightmare.
In college towns, however, students view Tinder as a way people can find potential “hookups” for the night. Through an online survey distributed to college students across the United States, I found that 99.4 percent of respondents have used or know another student who has used Tinder. Out of the 155 survey respondents, 61 percent of people believe the purpose of using Tinder is to look for hookups at school. One respondent even believes that people use Tinder as “window shopping for girls or hookups.”
However, the survey revealed that this hookup ideal is inaccurate. Out of the 155 respondents, only 20 percent reported to using Tinder for hookup purposes. This reinforces the idea that Tinder’s social stigma and negative reputation is simply incorrect.
In contrast, 12 percent of respondents answered that they have been in a relationship that started through the Tinder app. And of that 12 percent, almost half are still in that relationship.
One respondent addressed the issue behind Tinder’s stigma. “I think Tinder could be a really great way to meet people in this digital age, but most people don’t take it seriously because everyone jokes about it being for hookups.”
Another respondent doesn’t like to admit she uses the application for relationship purposes because people view her as shallow for judging men solely on appearance. “But isn’t it the same thing as approaching someone you find attractive at a bar? If it didn’t have the stereotype of being a hookup app, I think it would be a great way to meet new people and potentially start a relationship.”
Rosie Kelly, a senior advertising major at Rowan University, runs a blog called Hookup Culture. Hookup Culture exposes students at Rowan University talking about relationships and sex in college and encourages the idea that, despite our generation’s stereotype of not being able to communicate and form meaningful relationships, we are capable of these things and are actually very open about relationships. Kelly conducts interviews with students to get material for the blog and also writes feature articles that have to do with relationships, break-ups and dating for our generation.
Kelly spoke to Her Campus Rowan in regard to her blog’s purpose and said, “We all go through heart breaks and are constantly swiping through Tinder and I don’t think it’s something that has to be kept a secret. Hookup Culture and other blogs like it let people know that we’re all thinking the same thing.”
“My main message is really that we are so much more than a hookup culture. Older generations tend to believe all we do is have one night stands, we can’t communicate because of social media and texting and that we never form meaningful relationships. I believe all of that is wrong. We are more focused on our careers and futures, so it’s true that fewer people decide to settle down in college. However, we are extremely capable of communicating and forming relationships, just in a different and more evolved way than our elders.”
Through a personal interview with Kelly, she told me she believes “Tinder is just another form of communication for our generation. We meet people by following them on Twitter, talking to them in class, friending them on Facebook, saying hi at the bar or even matching on Tinder. It has a stigma that it’s used for hookups but I don’t think that’s true. Most people use it out of boredom, to talk to someone or maybe to date.”
Tinder is a powerful tool students use versus the typical online dating websites, such as Match.com. Just because something is seen as a tool for hooking up, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously as a way to meet new people and form meaningful relationships.