Byline: Zarif Adnan
Zarif Adnan, Contributing Columnist
September 29, 2014
Since Tinder was released in September 2012, it has climbed in popularity, with currently more than 10 million people using the app daily. Tinder has managed this success by keeping the often awkward and difficult process of meeting new people safe, fun and easy. Users need only register with Facebook, select pictures for their profile and write a short bio about themselves -- no long questionnaire forms and no unnecessary hassle. The app then presents profiles for users to either swipe right and like, or swipe left and reject. The entire swiping process remains anonymous until two users both swipe right on each other, in which case a chat box is opened.
One of the most frequent criticisms of Tinder is that the app is shallow and that making snap judgements about people's looks and interests is degradingly artificial -- that critique in itself is shallow, however. The process of finding a date on Tinder is no more artificial than those used when seeking a date beyond the digital world. Finding a romantic partner outside of Tinder requires just as many snap judgements and decisions. Eventually, one has to decide whether the romantic interest who lives on the neighboring floor or is in one's recitation is worth pursuing. Regardless of the ideal that attraction consistently involves deep consideration, at some point one must look at a person and, in his or her head, swipe right or left.
Tinder takes the components one would use to make a judgment about a prospective partner and presents them bluntly, without any frills. Appearance? Check. Interests? Check. A short introduction about yourself? Check. All with the deviously fun aspect of the left or right swipe.
The critique that Tinder is insincere with a base that only seeks casual sex is a reflection of users, rather than Tinder itself. Is going on Tinder in pursuit of sex any different than going to a bar in the same pursuit? The odds that a person at a bar will largely base judgements on appearance are comparable to those on the app. In fact, Tinder may be the more desirable option, as it only allows messaging between users who have mutually swiped right. This simple feature takes a significant step in curbing embarrassment from outright rejection, as well as minimizing the risk of retaliation from rejecting someone in person. Tinder reflects the millennial mindset of clarity and efficiency through technology. While the sincerity of all dating interfaces is questionable, Tinder is only as shallow as the user.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 29 print edition. Email Zarif Adnan at firstname.lastname@example.org.