The last two years has seen an explosion of dating apps such as Tinder and Precisely. Predictions about the impact of these apps can veer into the extreme, many foreseeing a breakdown in communication and “traditional” dating practices. Amid these calls, it can be observed that this is somewhat premature.
Yes, dating apps have enjoyed popularity, but the reality is that at best these apps serve as a facilitator of casual sexual encounters rather than as a serious way of meeting potential partners. So why has Tinder failed to replace conventional dating as predicted? Tinder is seen as a running joke. People are reluctant to mention they are even on it, and many are giving up on the app out of exasperation.
One party that could be holding back the app’s success: women. But why?
The format of the app could offer some insight. A selection of images is presented while a judgment is made solely on the looks of the other person, one is then given the opportunity to contact that person once they have also approved the picture.
From this, we can see it resembles men’s normal experience of pursuing women but on a larger scale. A man is presented with many well-dressed women—in this case on a phone instead of in a bar, club, church, etc.— and approaches one he finds visually attractive. The primary difference is that in real-life a man must call on his courage to approach a woman who may reject him; he also often must navigate the presence of others (friends, family members, even other potential suitors).
For men, Tinder seems too good to be true. You are promised the benefits of dating without the risks or effort.
The trouble is that there is very little in it for women. The only obvious advantage is that they don’t have to venture outside the door, but given that women are showing no signs that they don’t want to socialize, Tinder remains a weak alternative. Trading a living, breathing human being who has summoned the courage to approach you and have a conversation trumps the distant advances of a stranger from cyberspace. And then there is the fact that many men apparently are not using the app in good faith, but simply to get an "ego boost."
I feel it is worth stating the shortcomings of this new technology and to caution against jumping on the bandwagon. The jury is still well and truly out on this cultural trend; hopefully people can continue to discuss our relationship with technology with open minds.
Mark Ring is a writer based in Ireland.