Wednesdays without Will: 21st Century Dating: Shopping for a Soul Mate

Over the past five years, social media has revolutionized the industry, becoming the means for brands to build relationships with their consumers. But the brand-consumer relationship isn’t social media’s only match making success story.

A good friend recently told me about the new guy she’s been seeing. As she gushed on, my initial excitement turned to mild concern when she mentioned that she met her latest suitor on Tinder, the interactive dating app released last summer. Tinder is linked to Facebook, and after indicating their genders, locations and sexual preferences, users can browse through a set of profile photos of other users nearby. Swiping right means “like,” swiping left means “not interested,” and these reactions are based on little more than the person’s physical appearance. Only when two users “like” each other can they proceed to have a conversation via the app.

Perhaps the most appealing feature of Tinder is its simplicity. Not only is it easy to use, but it shaves down the dating process to its most basic core: physical attraction. Tinder also succeeds in eliminating two of the biggest user-cited issues of other dating websites: fear of rejection and unwanted conversation.

So, here we have an efficient, ego-boosting social app. What’s the worry? Above all, critics disapprove of Tinder’s glorification of shallow intentions. The “About” page of Tinder’s website reads: “The whole Tinder experience is designed to be familiar and emulate the way we interact in real life.” As an app created to mimic real-life interactions, what does Tinder, which is based purely on superficiality and snap judgments, say about our society? Furthermore, the app reveals our comfort in a consumer role. It allows its users to browse through potential partners as easily as scanning an online sale for shoes. By encouraging its users to more or less shop for a soul mate, Tinder truly taps into a consumer-driven market.

Critiques aside, Tinder is undoubtedly thriving. It sees a reported 10,000-20,000 downloads a day, but it’s not one-of-a-kind (and neither is its popularity). Grindr, an app with a similar format that caters exclusively to gay users, has gained over 4 million users worldwide since its 2009 launch. The success of these mobile dating apps reflects our increasingly digital society, and one that wants everything at an instant. Now, even the intimate and personal act of seeking a mate has us turning to social media for assistance – why leave it up to fate when you can shop for a soul mate?

Would you use Tinder?

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Cover Photo Source: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

 Leora is a Junior Executive at SJG. She is a native Chicagoan who is currently working toward obtaining a BA from Washington University in St. Louis. Outside the office, her favorite things include reading, live music and travel.