Sex, Games and Narcissism; the changing face of Tinder

Plenty of Fish and other dating websites came about to facilitate the needs of a time starved generation who wanted opportunities to meet new people. These sites helped people over the initial hurdles of dating which often paved the way for face to face interaction and lasting relationships.

Enter Tinder: the younger and more exuberant little brother of Plenty of Fish. Tinder was apparently about cutting out the formalities and getting straight to the heart of sexual interaction; Yes or No. Yet what is so fascinating about Tinder is that every time someone thinks that they have the site pegged, it takes on a whole new meaning. In the beginning Tinder was about instant gratification, sex and appearances. This made sense and made a lot of people happy, especially at 2:00 in the morning after a night out when there was no one else around.

Then people began to use Tinder differently and it was often described as ‘just a game’. People swiped when they were bored waiting for the bus or watching TV, it was the equivalent of Snake or Angry Birds except based on real people. Users developed this thick skin that they never knew they had, if you were rejected, it was fine because it was just a game and was never to be taken seriously anyway. The site was developed in a way that cushioned the impact of rejection; you could only see the ones that liked you and not the ones who thought you looked crap.

The third transition made by the app was slightly more unexpected; an app used to validate people who are already in a relationship. Recent research published in The Guardian has revealed that 42% of people using Tinder already have a partner. Some of these people are in bad relationships and are looking for a bit of effortless sex on the side but for many others, they are simply seeking out comfort in the admiration of another.

What’s most unusual about the success of Tinder is that the creators haven’t had much need to interfere with the design of the app to garner these results, it’s the users that keep attributing new meanings to Tinder which means it continues to stay relevant even in the fast paced world of online dating and mobile apps.


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