Is Tinder A Dating App? A Hot Debate
Human beings, or at least almost all human beings, require relationships for healthy and satisfactory lives, we are by nature, social creatures. Finding acquaintances that will help us to create our relationships and identities in this age of technology is becoming increasingly easy. The existence of dating services such as eHarmony and Tinder have made finding partners, whether romantic or merely sexual, as accessible as possible. At a first glance, eHarmony and Tinder belong on the same playing field, but actually these two different examples are playing for two different teams.
Both companies are online services that aim to bring single persons together to create some sort of partnership, whether it lasts for one vodka cranberry or one lifetime. It is the makeup of the dating services that leads to the different result of a first date and the resulting “I dos” and “I don’ts.” Tinder has become synonymous with quick and easy hookups that do not go much further beyond first names and one night stands.While eHarmony is more of a household name that your sister’s-friend’s-cousin met her fiance of 2 years with, and boy she couldn’t be happier. As Nick Bilton of the New York Times puts it, “And all that swiping has given Tinder the nickname “the hookup app,” for its reputation for one-night stands—though the company tries to distance itself from the label.” Whether the company enjoys being known as a hookup hub is irrelevant, because that is exactly what it is.
The differences between dating apps and dating sites is even more clear when discussing the methods used to create matches. Companies like eHarmony and Match.com utilize “love algorithms” while Tinder capitalizes on men and women’s mere physical attraction. Bilton characterizes Tinder in the same way someone would approach another in a bar-type setting; people do not walk in and fill out an application and wait for a message, if they see someone that they find visually appealing they will offer to buy them a drink or ask for a dance. The reason more hookups happen with Tinder is because it is rooted in physical desire while eHarmony makes attempts at establishing emotional connections between users. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote a piece for The Guardian, and within it he sums up the difference between the face-based Tinder and emotion-centric dating site:
This has been an important lesson for data enthusiasts who have tried to sterilize the game of love by injecting rigorous decision-making and psychometric algorithms into the process. Well, it turns out that people are a lot more superficial than psychologists thought. They would rather judge 50 pictures in two minutes than spend 50 minutes assessing one potential partner.
Despite the target audience, one difference does prevail between dating services. Some are free and some cost money. Typically, people looking for a serious partnership, or even marriage, are more willing to pay for expensive dating services. Those looking for quick and easy hookups will opt for a free version. This phenomena is a play on the whole, buying-a-cow-or-getting-the-milk-for-free idea. eHarmony and its lesser known counterparts charge what is sometimes a hefty fee for its usage while Tinder and its counterparts are cost free (besides some gimmicky in-app purchase options). The users of expensive dating agencies are typically older and more invested in finding a serious relationship. A study was performed through Winthrop University’s psychology department in which the risk taking behavior, age, and gender were examined in users of free versus paid dating programs. Emily Grom reports the results generally stated that those not looking for long term relationships were more likely to use free dating services like Tinder and more men used free dating sites. In addition, “Sixty percent of paid site users expected to meet their perfect match and less than 1% expected to just hook up.” Despite these findings, there are those that disagree with defining Tinder as an app that is used by most for sexually driven purposes. At times, it is seen as a successful way to meet new people and potential long term partners. It would be impossible to dismiss that healthy long-lasting relationships can result from Tinder because many have. Despite this evident fact, a clear trend is visible that forces Tinder into the new-age category of as an app designed solely for inconsequential sexual relationships.
Conversations about dating services are commonplace for glitz magazines and ladies luncheons, but the nitty gritty about hooking up and hanging out, is a relatively new discussion. On a college campus, one can walk down the hallway of any given dorm room and hear buzzwords like “swipe left” or “new match.” From the perspective of a college student, the presence of social media and dating services is incredibly large and even distracting which is why open avenues of dialogue surrounding them are not only important but also beneficial. Understanding how to navigate this new world of technology is necessary for those being brought up in an age where it demands their attention. Knowing what sets Tinder apart from the rest may not aid in getting a college degree but it does help when it weaves its way into most dining hall conversations.
Bilton, Nick. “Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth.” The New York Times. N.p., 29 Oct. 2014. Web.
Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. “The Tinder Effect: Psychology of Dating in the Technosexual Era.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 17 Jan. 2014. Web.
Grom, Emily E. “Love Me Tinder or Mis-Match.com: Free versus Paid Online Dating Sites.” Digital Commons @ Winthrop University. N.p., 22 Apr. 2016. Web.