Up until about a month or so ago, I had little to no experience with the popular dating app called Tinder. I was quickly able to familiarize myself with how the app works. The goal is simple—to meet people. When a user first creates an account, she is able to enter her name, age, education, work, and a short biography (less than 300 characters). Users are also allowed to upload up to six photos which is undeniably the most important part of one’s Tinder profile because matches are made based upon one’s profile photo. The app can be set to customize potential matches by distance, location, age, and gender. Once these settings have been selected, the swiping begins! Tinder then displays a photo featuring another user’s name and age. If interested in this person, users swipe right to “like” that person’s profile; if not, users swipe left to indicate that they are not interested. The matching occurs when two people mutually “like” each other. Mutual liking creates a match and users can then begin messaging each other in hopes of meeting up for a date or something else. Tinder does not share your personal info such as your phone number or Snapchat, but users often exchange these details when messaging.
The aesthetic qualities of Tinder are very simple and straightforward—the main screen features a photo of a potential app with a toolbar of actions at the bottom. Users can also tap on a person’s profile photo to read their bio and see a listing of mutual friends and shared interests, thanks to Facebook. The messaging feature is almost identical to that used on any smartphone, without the ability to send pictures and videos. The main icon associated with Tinder is the flame, which appears when a user has a match. The flame seems to be a metaphor to represent a relationship between two people beginning with a small spark (tinder) and then turning into burning love. However, the accuracy of this metaphor remains up for debate.
Similarly to the user interface, the experience is relatively straightforward. Basic users can either simply “like” or “dislike” potential matches by swiping right or left and then begin messaging if the two are a match. For a fee, premium users have the ability to “super like” potential matches, experience “boosts” to get more likes, and use the “undo” feature to view previous profiles. All users also have the capacity to “unmatch” someone they have matched with if the interaction—in most cases, if the interaction becomes uncomfortable or inappropriate.
As a 21 year-old female using Tinder my experience is that any sort of values or morals are virtually non-existent on this app. While I have had some enjoyable conversations and have met a few people at bars, the majority of my interactions on Tinder have been about hooking up/sex. As a girl, it is not at all uncommon to get messages asking for a quick hook up or pick-up lines involving crude and vulgar language. I think these types of experience are a shame for the app because it is a valuable way to meet people, but many users (especially women) become turned off by experiences much like my own. The app also favors appearance over personality because users immediately swipe left or right based on a person’s photo. All in all, Tinder only furthers the hook-up/one night stand culture that has become so prevalent in today’s dating world.