Tinder is an increasingly used online dating application based predominantly on appearance compatibility. The Individual has the opportunity to swipe left or right their choice being determined by imagery. Although the participant has the option to present a short biography and promote their Facebook interests the application is primarily based on physical characteristics therefore my thesis was centred on whether Tinder is creating a shallow society that transforms the way we interact online and in reality.
Online dating has transformed the way society communicates in reality and the virtual world. It has established an entirely new space where choice can be made before first interaction through similar beliefs, location and appearance. Homnack argues “Due to endless potential in the online world, people are becoming less attentive to people who could better fit their expectations”.
I specifically chose Tinder due to the technological era that is defining the current generation. Statistics reveal from 2013 “Sixty six percent of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site or mobile application”, indicating it is a continually growing market and communication interface. Tinder has become a popular application globally with a large percentage of their market being University/College students “Roughly 50% of users on Tinder are between the ages of 18 to 24”. I chose two males and two females for the project to ensure consistency enabling comparisons to be formed between genders and their intentions on the application.
Finding individuals to participate in my study was difficult. Tinder is a widely used application but there is still a judgmental stigma behind it. Several individuals I contacted were reluctant to share their experiences because of personal image. This proved beneficial to the study as it acknowledged the damaging reputation the application has established. Studies undertaken by Finkel recognise that online dating has been viewed as a desperate measure, reiterating this unwillingness.
I wanted to aim for a contrast of humour vs. reality in my video. I believed presenting humour at the beginning through a corny date reflected the game-like novelty of the platform while then acknowledging the serious and beneficial nature behind Tinder through my interviewees. Having a series of comparisons layered reflected objectivity, highlighting the social connections and behaviours found in reality and on the application. Evidently the negative experiences portrayed on the video reiterates this shallow objective Tinder has established as the sexualisation and discrimination experienced by both the male and female occupants would not have occurred in a typical social situation in reality. The perpetrator still has a level of anonymity and availability to hide behind a screen therefore increasing their ability to be shallow, ignorant and rude without any repercussions.
It was extremely important to remain ethically and socially responsible undertaking this study. The participants were sharing personal stories, ideas and beliefs. Before I published the video I gained approval from all my occupants, particularly ensuring the two who chose to hide their true identity on video, referred to as Alicia and Matt, were unrecognisable as exposure would not only be detrimental to their reputation but mine as a researcher. Human contact and knowledge is essential in ethnographic research as reiterated by Yale University demonstrating once trust has been lost so is valuable insight.
The series of research which has been conducted would prove beneficial to media industries and stakeholders as it enables them to form comparisons between gender’s and their intentions on the application. Allowing them to determine Tinder’s future objectives as a communication platform.
In order to understand the philosophy behind Tinder I also downloaded the application myself to enhance my ethnographic research and witness how males correspond with females on the platform. When evaluating my findings with my own interactions I found a series of similarities and differences between experiences specifically the male’s perspective. Interestingly the two males believed Tinder is establishing a degrading society as they have experienced frequent discrimination from women on the application, as Barton reiterates, “Tinder’s a constant cycle of emotions between being really excited and deceived”, coinciding with James who suggests that “Studies questioning the construction of online dating profiles have found a “shopping” mentality for selecting matches”.
Whereas the two females interviewed contradict this, implying that the idea of appearance compatibility also occurs in reality. Before communicating with someone verbally our first connection made is often based on looks. Alicia stated “Superficiality and shallowness is inescapable, whether it is real life or online”. Evidently shallowness is still present within reality, however primary and secondary findings suggest applications like Tinder enhance this idea of lust and desire – playing on the notion of judgement. TechCrunch writer Jordan Clark reiterates this arguing that the gaming characteristics of Tinder reflecting a deck of cards increases the shallow affiliations of the application, “It’s someone who might actually like you, someone who may potentially want to have sex with you.”
Research has demonstrated that Tinder is becoming a platform not only designed for sexual interactions but a digital entity where non-sexual relations have been established, moving beyond this superficiality and providing diversity in online communication. On Tinder particularly “The purpose was never just for dating, it was for social discovery in general,” Rosette Pambakian, vice president of communications for the application advised.
Evidently all occupants within the video have formed friendships through the application including myself. Alicia collaborated artistically with one male she met on Tinder, stating, “I see many accounts searching for purely friends, threesomes, extras in films, followers for their Instagram accounts – it is becoming so fluid and open to suit a variety of experiences.” This clearly recognises that superficiality can be avoided on Tinder depending on the individual’s intentions but predominantly its purpose is still for dating and sexual interaction.
Tinder has removed the idea of fate found in reality, both participants have control over whether they are matched with an individual based on physical characteristics and a small 240 character biography that often displays a Snapchat or Instagram user name – with possibly a few short lines acknowledging hobbies or interests – merely nothing in terms of generating an idea of personality and intentions. Conclusively from the series of primary and secondary research indicated I have determined that Tinder hasn’t predominantly established a shallow society but it has successfully played on the concept and uses it as an effective marketing tool. It breaks the conventional rules of dating, removing fate and establishing a level of judgement and choice before interaction is made which is part of the beauty of reality and meeting someone unintentionally – applications like Tinder are slowly destroying the idea of destiny and replacing it with superficiality.