I started university whimsically hoping I’d meet my future husband in a lecture like my parents had. Pre-internet age, everyone seemed to meet through friends, church, university. It’s different nowadays. The heavy schedules of studying, work, sleeping, and socialising with existing friends has taken its toll on romance. Where’s the time for dating in amongst all that?
That’s where dating apps step in. Although widely used, these apps are stigmatised as being an unnatural means of meeting someone. Tinder, launched in 2012, is the most popular amongst young people. Basing judgement off meticulously selected photographs and a painstakingly composed witty bio, users swipe right if they’re interested, and left if they’re not.
Tinder is vilified as a ‘hook-up’ app. The process is thought to be manipulated for a quick dose of fun, rather than creating anything lasting. A culture is developing where romance is replaced by lewd comments that are copied and pasted to multiple matches. When I first downloaded Tinder, I had these presuppositions in my head.
Initially I felt awkward using it, clumsily swiping past profiles. I hated how impersonal it was and the crude messages I received. But Tinder is addictive. I used it obsessively, becoming emotionally detached, savagely swiping faces off my screen seconds after popping up. I’d roll my eyes and un-match boring opening lines, blocking double-messagers. Hiding behind a screen made it feel like these were just profiles, not real people. Eventually I took a break. The whole experience wasn’t authentic. It had lost its novelty.
It pains me to say this, but I still don’t completely hate Tinder. I hate this it bases compatibility on a limited presentation of an individual and turns us into withdrawn robots. I do, however, feel there’s merit to it. It’s allowed me to interact with different personalities more easily than in real life. Despite the ‘hook-up’ nature of the app, strong connections are cemented through it. I re-downloaded Tinder later and finally met my boyfriend. I don’t think I’d have met him otherwise. So, as dispassionate and clinical as it can be, maybe it’s not totally awful.