Perched quietly in one corner of the room, eyes glued to the screen of his phone and swiping from left to right, Marcus* could be mistaken as playing a game of some sort. Marcus, however, is not playing any games. He is using Tinder.
Tinder is undeniably familiar to most people’s ears; with the recent upsurge of Tinder users and the glamorization of the media, it has become one of the most popular online dating platforms to date.
It is user-friendly: once downloaded, you log in with your Facebook profile, specify the gender, age range, and the distance of the people that you’d like to meet. Then you’re ready to go.
The minute Tinder finds someone that matches your criteria, it shows the photo of the person on the screen; tap for a short description, swipe left to dismiss, or swipe right if the person suits your fancy. Once two people swipe right for each other, a messaging function opens up and the two are considered a match. Easy.
Friends and games
The success of this technology also lies in the way they choose their target demographic—the impatient, instant-savvy age group of college students.
Lasallians are no aliens to the Western-based trends that are spreading around these days. So we ask, what is it about Tinder that has piqued the interest of Lasallians?
Allan (V, BS-ECE) answers, “To meet new friends.” For him, Tinder is just another social media platform to chance upon people and virtually make friends with them. Nothing more, nothing less.
In the case of Jason (IV, BS-MFI), however, this piece of technology appealed to him because he is interested to know if there are single girls out there who want to get ‘matched’ with him. He adds, “Meeting people [on Tinder] is fun. Unlike meeting people in school or classroom, you can meet up with total strangers.”
Camille (I, BS-BIO), also uses Tinder to meet friends, and perhaps to find a potential partner. “I don’t think it (the relationship) will work naman eh,” she adds.
There are others who only tried the app because of the hype spread by hardcore users. “[I tried it out of] curiosity. My friend invited me to use Tinder,” shares an Engineering major.
But then there are also others who use Tinder because of the other forms of entertainment that they can derive from Tinder-ing. Allan (V, BS-ECE) reveals that he and his friends only use the app for games. “Nagti-Tinder ako kasi nagpapa-paramihan kami ng likes ng mga friends ko.”
While Allan and Camille say they use the app primarily for making new acquaintances, more often than not, Tinder users are depicted as promiscuous, hormone-pumped millennials looking for instant validation or instant gratification.
But do meet-ups always equate to hookups?
For some people who have gone to actual Tinder dates like Marcus, this is not the case. After hanging out with someone he met on Tinder, a friendship blossomed out of casual conversations. He even revealed that they continued talking with each other through other social media sites like Facebook. “It would really depend if they know how to keep a conversation going,” shares Marcus.
Virtual vs. corporeal
Although online dating is also considered a form of social interaction, many would argue, especially those outside the Tindersphere, that there are vast differences between swiping left or right and explicitly liking or rejecting a person face to face.
While Jason (IV, BS-MFI) finds Tinder convenient, he explains that it is not advisable to rely on it when one is into meeting new people. “In the long run, having to talk to one another, whether you use Tinder or not after, is really the best way to meet people and really know about them.”
Felix (IV, ECM-FIN), a non-user, also agrees that the pros of face-to-face interaction outweigh the pros of dating apps. “I’m the type who prefers to meet the person personally before I ask for their Facebook, Twitter, Viber. I think social networking should be like that.”
But while these like Felix have nothing against people who use Tinder and other dating apps, they are aware of how it is reshaping the world of social interaction. As Jose Medalla (IV, AB-CAM) shares, “I personally feel that the app changes the way we look at dating and relationships. It becomes superficial in the sense that we approve of each other based on physical appearance before getting to know each other.”
An academic’s take
Professor Melvin Jabar of the Behavioral Sciences Department shares to us his take on why more and more people are keen on using online dating platforms.
“Proliferation of online dating sites perhaps is indicative of the changing nature of social interactions. Through online dating, people especially those who have difficulties finding a mate, is now given a chance to express themselves without having to feel the pressure and discomfiture.”
However, Prof. Melvin Jabar notes that there are issues involved in online dating platforms as well. He mentions that the quality of interaction is different when it is face-to-face. “Online dating can be difficult because people cannot capture the nonverbal communication of the other unless they are using a camera.”
So what do Tinder and other online dating platforms have to do with hookup culture?
“Because of computer mediated communication, young people are becoming sexually promiscuous. Young people particularly are more exploratory and are more liberated. They enjoy a greater degree of freedom as compared to before. Online dating allows people to express what they want without having to worry about the reactions of people,” explains Prof. Melvin Jabar.
No doubt, Tinder has upended the whole dating game, bringing it to a completely different level as compared to other online dating platforms. However, it is not for everyone. There are still people that believe meeting someone face-to-face is the way to go. In the end, the choice of interacting with people remains a personal decision.