September 17, 2014

TICE | Two Years With Tinder

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Since roughly this time two years ago, students all over Cornell’s campus have been downloading an app that grants them access to the speediest online dating the world has ever seen. It also happens to recall in its interface a strikingly similar approach to that of “Hot or Not” and Zuckerberg’s legendary Harvard Facebook start-up, “Facemash.” You might have heard of it … it’s called Tinder.

The app links to Facebook, allowing users to filter gender, age and location to tailor a selection of individuals to their liking. Users have the option of “liking” or “passing” on the peers based on these criteria. If two users “like” each other, they “match” and are granted the option of messaging within the app. In a recent update, users may also take photos, or “moments” to share with all of their matches.

Though Tinder’s App Store description claims, “Tinder is a fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you … It’s a new way to express yourself and share with friends,” (a seemingly innocent and beneficial prerogative) the app is rated 17+ for “Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity” as well as “Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes.” In an app where people are judging each other based primarily off of appearance and whatever clever self-expression they can fit into a paragraph, this inclination towards sexual rendezvous is hardly surprising, especially when used on a college campus.

Tinder’s M.O. brings up two questions: Is the app an unnecessary crutch for social and sexual fulfillment, making students even lazier and less prepared when it comes to meeting organically, face-to-face? And if this “Tinder Date” approach is becoming norm, why are we still complaining about “the sexpectation” and retaining a sense of taboo and shame involved in having met friends/relationships/one-night-stands/regular-booty-calls on Tinder?

Is it relatively entertaining to be able to “virtually meet” a large portion of classmates from the comfort of your shitty couch in Collegetown? Yes, it most certainly is. Is it productive? Probably not. Shallow? Of course. It’s almost like having access to O-Week year round, sans awkward orientation group icebreakers. But isn’t collaboration and relationship-building the reason we already have O-Week, weekends in Collegetown, campus clubs, sports, giant lectures and student organizations? As if Cornell doesn’t offer more than enough opportunities to meet guys and girls galore, Tinder merely makes the single and social accessible literally at our fingertips. Like almost all new technology, Tinder has taken something we naturally do with others outside the house (mingling), and made it an individual activity to be done while we’re doing our homework, working out at the gym or walking to class.

Although not every user will claim nor should claim to be active on Tinder solely for sex, I think it’s safe to say the majority rules and the “sexpectation” is alive when meeting and spending time with a “Tinder guy/Tinder girl.” If we recognize this and see the app for how it really functions and is widely used, when can we stop shaming our friends for Tinder hook-ups and lying about how we met our new boy/girl toy?

After two years with Tinder, hundreds of profile pictures viewed and people matched, flirtatious messages, awkward rendezvous’ and nights spent with strangers, is Tinder a ship passing in the night, or a soon-to-be-acceptable means of hooking up? Only time can answer this question. We, as future app-creators and vibrant minds of a nationally-ranked institution can answer some for ourselves: Is Tinder healthy? Does it sit well with our collective conscience (if not are we willing to stand up against it)? What will we allow next when it comes to app-based dating?