The “dating” app Tinder is ubiquitous at Cornell and most other college campuses. “Dating” is in quotations because, as most of us know, Tinder is usually not used to find significant others, although some have certainly had success in doing exactly that. Most Tinder users in my demographic see the app as a conduit to casual hookups. Tinder and other apps like it do have a function in society, but the way in which they’re used now is aiding the degradation of our society’s morals.
At the risk of sounding like a prudish Luddite, let me explain. Although I am a college student in the 21st century, I was raised by a religious family that vehemently opposed the romantic milieu of our time. My parents lectured my sisters, friends and girlfriends about the virtues of abstinence. They demonized sex before marriage and even opposed dating before entering the workforce (although I did have girlfriends in high school, which my parents seemed not to mind).
Although I did and still do frequently debate my parents on these issues, commenting mostly on the impracticality of their stances, these views have embedded themselves in my paradigms. And I get frequent reminders from my parents about their views in the form of texts. My friends laugh at the texts asking me to form a “Pro-Life club” at Cornell and to “dock the (metaphorical) boat,” but I know they’re serious. So, I can’t help but grimace when I see people scrolling through Tinder.
A hundred years ago, an application such as Tinder would be condemned as strange and excessively promiscuous. Times have changed, and most people now don’t bat an eyelash over it. It’s indicative of changing societal morals and norms. The question to ask is: Are our morals devolving, or merely changing?
That question and its answer are nebulous and elusive, respectively, and I won’t attempt to explicate them. However, they have far-reaching implications. If we can agree that morals are devolving in the West, society needs large-scale, community-based action to correct them.
Beyond these hazy existential issues, there are practical reasons Tinder is a bad application. The function of Tinder and apps like it is, theoretically, to connect people in meaningful relationships. That’s useful to people who can’t otherwise meet people in the physical world. Shy people or those moving to new places are justified in using these applications. However, we’re in college, always surrounded by people of similar ages and minds. Most of us don’t need Tinder.
I don’t want to stigmatize relationships that have had their starts online, but there’s a reason people who have found their significant others in such a way usually try to avoid the topic. Meeting people in the physical world is more natural and organic. It’s also a better way of judging people. You can find countless stories about people lying about their appearance and identity on Tinder. Users also generally judge people on Tinder by only their appearance, often neglecting to read their bio at all. Although this is a possibility in the physical world, it’s much less likely.
Tinder is a transactional and morally corrupt application. It encourages users to eschew fostering relationships with people in the physical world in favor of quick, meaningless hookups with strangers. A Cornell sophomore I’m close to concurs, telling me Tinder makes him “feel gross.” Although he says he usually doesn’t follow up on his matches, he always regrets it when he does.
Christian Baran is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Honestly runs every other Friday this semester.