Tinder: the anti-social social app

Last week, I suggested to our staff that our staff editorial be on a topic I thought was popular opinion: the social issues of Tinder. To my surprise, what I thought would be an easy consensus was met with a flurry of awe and disagreement. But I still feel quite strongly about my abhorrence of Tinder, so here we are.

I am a bad Millennial. I genuinely believe print isn’t dead, I check out library books on the regular, and I’m so committed to the small screen of my gloriously tiny iPhone 5S that until Apple makes an iPhone with holograms, I see no reason to “upgrade.” And, most topically, I absolutely despise what “dating” or “hook up” apps have done to our social culture.

I see it this way: in about 30 years, when your grandchildren ask you how you met your spouse, there is a strong likelihood that the answer will be: “he/she looked great on Tinder so I swiped right and the rest is history.” So, the way you first “met” your spouse of 30 years was by flipping the fingerprint of your thumb across a screen. Sad.

Tinder has made it easy and acceptable to reduce human contact to a quick swipe of a finger. Now, I understand that on a campus as small at Denison’s, going up to someone you’re interested in at the bar and saying, “Hi, can I buy you a drink?” can be tough given that that individual probably took a bio class with your former roommate’s best friend’s ex’s crush. Still, Tinder acts as an easy excuse to reduce and objectify people to their most basic parts without any attention to individuality or how you might make someone feel when you “ghost” them. For my slang estranged reader, to “ghost” someone is to start communicating via text and then suddenly stop responding either in the conversation or after meeting them in person.

Sure, I accept that “ghosting” can totally happen in person with the “why didn’t he call me back?” tagline sitting front and center on the emotional psyche. However, there’s something about the impersonal nature of the app that makes people seem like emojis or avatars compared to a real, live person with actual feelings.

But a small community can’t be the only hindrance to forming actual relationships (and by relationships I don’t even mean seriously dating. I mean friendships, hook-ups, casual dating, etc.). So what else is it? What has made us so terrified of going up to someone after class and asking them to get a coffee because something they said interested you? The song “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop” exists for a reason; I just can’t seem to figure out where that culture went in the past five years.

Tinder is an anti-social social app, plain and simple. The lower stakes of a texting relationship bring an easier and higher physical reward. I understand that people are busy and the excuse that Tinder is faster than taking the time to get to know someone over lunch is fairly valid, though it’s depressing. Trust me, I get being busy. But I also get how good it feels to make a connection with someone over a pastry and a latte. It’s a feeling I worry we’re close to losing completely and it really just makes me sad.

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