Dating can be a scary thing, but apps like Tinder and Bumble have made meeting new people as easy as swiping right on your phone. Technology has made our lives easier, but at what cost?
Being a Tinder user at UO creates a new social pretense for every trip to campus. Seeing someone you have seen on the app in person is a daily occurrence, and it is something collegiate Tinder users must get accustomed to. But in my experience, the social dynamic created by Tinder is a negative one.
Up until very recently, Tinder used an algorithm to determine your supposed attractiveness based on the number of likes you get. Though their practices have changed, the effect still remains; there is a social web created by Tinder that is amplified by the close proximity of college.
Using Tinder in a large city does not come with the same ramifications as using the app on a college campus does.
The risk of running into someone you have encountered on the app is much higher in a university setting, and the social context created by an evaluation of attractiveness subconsciously impacts face to face interactions. If you like someone on Tinder and do not receive a reciprocated like from them, communicating in person becomes awkward and carries a sense of inadequacy.
Tinder provides instant social gratification that other technology cannot. It is easy to get addicted to swiping and finding out who likes you because it feels like validation. This is a dangerous loop of dopamine that can affect future relationships. In the real world it takes time and emotional investment to get validation from your partner, but on Tinder you can get instant validation from strangers multiple times a day.
College hookup culture is already extremely prevalent, but now aided by Tinder and other dating apps it feels almost inescapable. Tinder is keenly aware of their college users, so much so that they have a new feature of their app tailored specifically to college students: TinderU.
TinderU is simply a label you include in your profile on the app that publicizes your university and shows you mostly other university students. Of course it is up to each individual to match with people, but I have talked to a fair number of students who have sworn off Tinder after a bad meeting facilitated by the app.
Many people portray a different version of themselves on Tinder because so little real information is required for the profile. A friend of mine told me they once met a man at a bar for a date, who not only looked different from their Tinder profile, but proceeded to follow my friend out to her car berating her for leaving.
This brings up another issue with Tinder: safety. People under the required age of 19 can be seen routinely on the app. Tinder is home to some shady characters, but that does not hold the younger crowd at bay.
Tinder is undoing years worth of social progress right under our noses and there is nothing we can do about it. Appearance comes first and instant validation is the goal. If people worry about young men and women internalizing the wrong values, Tinder is the reason why.
The social dangers of college are multiplied by Tinder to an extreme degree. Self worth and social stratification become tangible things dictated by an app. Suddenly our college campus becomes an extension of the app, rather than an escape from it.