For those of you who have shunned Twitter, on Wednesday the Tinder company feed went wild with a 30 tweet outrage defending itself against a Vanity Fair article that took a look into how dating has changed since the rise of Internet dating sites and apps. Tinder defended itself against accusations that it has turned dating into a “hit it and quit it” culture, stating that friendships and marriages are common with the dating app and even bizarrely went on to state that it was vital in anti-conventional social media states, such as China and North Korea, in helping people meet.
There is one thing that Vanity Fair was right about: the Internet is the biggest thing to change how we mate since settlements and marriage. Dating before the rise of the Internet was the same as trying to do research: really bloody difficult. You would have to go out there—really out there—mingling in the public, talking to complete strangers. Bars and clubs were your best bets for meeting new people, but they weren’t always the kind of people you wanted to meet. I remember a time when the supermarket or the library, language classes or sports clubs were heralded as the ultimate place to meet “the one,” and it took huge amount of guts to even make the approach.
Now meeting someone is as simple as swiping right. You can view literally 100s of potential partners in a matter of minutes and you would never know the sting of rejection as you only see them again if the feeling is mutual. It’s all ridiculously shallow and purely based on looks but then hasn’t dating always been? You have to go so much deeper to find the person inside. Tinder and other dating sites and apps aren’t the only way people are now meeting each other; forums where you share a common interest, Twitter, Facebook and even online gaming have all become part of the normal way to connect with people. The Internet is expanding the way in which it is possible to meet people. My friend met her partner on Twitter through a love of travel despite living on literally opposite sides of the world. They’ve been together 5 years.
The problem with Tinder is that it is perhaps too good at what it does. Singles are aware now more than ever that there definitely is “plenty more fish in the sea;” after all, you scrolled through 100s of potential matches already today. There becomes a culture where each person need to “care less” than the other. Wait a minimum of an hour to message back, no double messages, no messages before 7pm. All these unspoken rules keep people at a distance from each other, never having to truly know them, never making a real connection. Do you remember the days of sitting alone and have a stranger approach you to get to know you better? Maybe they noticed you playing Gameboy, maybe they dug the book you were reading, or maybe they were just intrigued by your smile. I remember when this last happened to me. It was 2009.
Is this all necessarily a bad thing though? We can all look back nostalgically on the rush of brief encounters with strangers in the park, but do we do so in the same way we look back on playing with wooden blocks? It was fun at the time but if it happened now would it just be a bit rubbish? The truth is that technology has made dating evolve in a way that means that you don’t have to marry the first available man you meet simply because he may also be the last available man you meet, and by Jove you’re almost 17 already. Tinder and its fellow apps are the evolution of dating. A way to try to weed out the rough before that awkward first date. and if that doesn’t work out, a way you can move on a moment later. And yes Tinder is used often for hooking up, but sex is a basic human right and surely making it so simple is only a good thing as long as everyone is honest.
And despite this all, I have never installed Tinder. I still meet my dates at language classes, at bars and through friends. I still enjoy the rush of getting to know someone, maybe just as friends … at first. I’m addicted to the nervous excitement of not knowing if they feel the same, of the jolt when they brush your arm as you walk together, as they push the hair from your eyes. I want to feel that gut wrenching jerk as you tell them how you feel and the moment before they admit they too want more. But maybe I’m just old fashioned.
Is Tinder the evolution of dating? And if so is it a good thing?