Swipe left, swipe right. Are dating apps ruining your relationships?
BY SARA LIGHTHALL
Rebecca is your typical tech-savvy twentysomething. She’s quick to Facebook, shares her life on Instagram, and swipes through her favorite app, Tinder, on a daily basis. “I downloaded it because I was curious—I just wanted to know what it was like and who from my hometown was using it,” said Rebecca. “Now I’m on it all the time.”
When Rebecca downloaded the Tinder mobile app a couple of years ago, she became one of The New York Times estimated 50 million users of the online dating platform. Tinder, launched in 2012, “empowers” its multitude of users to make connections with others in their geographic area, building relationships between individuals who may have never met otherwise. The app operates by giving users a stack of pictures to sift through; if one likes what they see, they swipe right over the image, if they do not, they swipe left and move on. When two users mutually swipe right on each other’s photographs, “it’s a match!” and the newly connected duo has the opportunity to “chat” within the app. For those of us who need a synopsis, Rebecca describes the process in simple terms: “you go- hot, hot, nah, nah, nah, hot, and then you have ten matches!”
Looking for love or a way to kill time?
While Tinder and other dating apps like Bumble, Hinge, and OkCupid pride themselves on making meaningful couplings, many young users reject the serious nature of the products and repurpose them as merely carefree entertainment. Rebecca’s college roommate, Emily, downloaded Tinder four years ago when she was in high school. As a long-term user, she claims that she has always used the app casually, never thinking that her soulmate could possibly be among those she matches with. Perched on her bed in her cozy light blue room in Santa Barbara, Emily makes a quick back and forth motion with her thumb, showing me how rapidly she flicks through profiles on the Tinder app, giving each user a two-second evaluation at most. “It’s a game, like Fruit Ninja,” she says playfully.
Emily is not in the minority. In a study conducted at the University of Amsterdam in 2015, researchers found that “entertainment” and “passing time” are the most significant reasons young adults use Tinder. I find it ironic that such a high percentage of Tinder’s target audience is manipulating the product in a way that the creators did not intend.
While mindlessly using mobile dating products seems harmless to users, the misappropriation of the apps as a game can produce a slew of negative consequences. Blinded by the excitement of matches and neurochemical “rewards,” many users become hooked on dating apps, spending more and more time absorbed by their phone screens each day.
Ironically, the excessive use of dating apps is weakening ties between individuals rather than fostering connections. Are dating apps ruining relationships?
Fear of face-to-face
Like its addicting matches, the “chat” function of dating apps also has a hidden dark side. Back at home, Emily and I discuss her approach to “chatting” with other Tinder users. Emily shares she that enjoys conversing with her matches on Tinder because everything is on her “own terms”–she can wait as long as she wishes to respond, she can control exactly what she says, she can get advice from others, and she can edit her messages to perfection before she presses the send button.
According to Catherine Echols, professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, social anxiety is “an unusually strong fear of interacting with and being evaluated by others.” (…) As Emily mentioned, behind a computer screen, she has the opportunity to craft each message to perfection, giving her the opportunity to convey her “best self.”
Dr. Desiree Aldeis, a relational communication expert, adds that once an individual develops this high level of comfort online, they will continue to turn to online platforms when they want to communicate instead of engaging in person; ultimately, this cycle intensifies one’s social anxiety. (…)
Find in the text the synonym of:
A. Geek – B. Many – C. Allow – D. A pile of – E. Search through – F. Flatter: – G. Significant– H. Aimlessly (2 words) – I. Addicted to – J. Encouraging
1) What is Tinder? Make a short presentation.
2) What was its creators’ aim (goal) when they created Tinder?
3) What’s a match?
4) “A high percentage of Tinder’s target audience is manipulating the product in a way that the creators did not intend” l.40-42 Explain in your own words
5) What is social anxiety? Are dating apps a solution?
6) According to the text, what are the pros and cons of dating apps?