Swipe Responsibly

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The game-like quality of the app can make romantic experiences feel superficial. GRAPHICS DEPARTMENT/FIONA BANSGROVE

Tinder’s slogan is, “Any swipe can change your life.” But how true is that?

Apps like Tinder and Bumble have been accused of cheapening the dating experience by letting people replace real connection with a superficial swiping game. It’s common to think that these apps are simply not a way to find healthy relationships. However, it’s also common to see outdated takes.

The staff of the Foghorn has varied opinions on this topic.

All of us agree that, if you’re looking for a healthy relationship, Tinder is probably not the place to go. The app has turned finding a romantic connection into a game. Due to the fact that the app is based on getting “matches” by swiping on individuals with pre-selected pictures and short descriptions, it mimics an inherently superficial dating experience. That shallowness has the potential to hurt the self-confidence of its users, especially since it can seem natural to start tying your self worth to the number of matches you get.

The app not only has the potential to damage its users’ self-worth — it can also ingrain bad dating habits. Having strong first impressions of potential partners exists outside the app, but basing a decision solely on someone’s profile picture does foster a two-dimensional view of dating (plus, it makes it easier to “ghost” people without guilt). The app does not require much emotional effort, and, although part of that is due to the fact that it’s an app, those unhealthy practices can leak into the real world. Some of us have first-handedly experienced a change in our perspectives on dating due to the Tinder mindset.

Using dating apps requires having low expectations. To be blunt, the app is not about dating, and in general, nobody goes on Tinder because they’re looking for a serious relationship. Most use the app for hook-ups. This is not an attack on online dating; there are sites out there that are better suited for people who want something serious, but Tinder is just not that. So it’s not surprising that some of us think that the app has cheapened the dating environment.

However, are these issues the app’s fault, or are they the fault of the people who use it? There have always been people who just want something casual. Tinder didn’t invent the concept of hook-ups — it just made it easier to find them. It’s possible that the app itself isn’t changing the dating scene, it’s just a place for people who already had unhealthy habits, such as basing everything off of physical appearance or being unavailable. In real life, if you go to a party looking to meet someone new, you go in knowing that there are some attendees who want something “real” and some who do not. Many on the Foghorn staff believe that the same process happens with Tinder, and meeting people on the app is not any less healthy than meeting someone at a party — it just expedites the process.

Tinder is not an app for finding serious relationships, but it also does not advertise itself as such. Users should be cautious and cognizant when using the app. It can seem like just a harmless way to pass time, but the habits that you can learn from the app can worsen the dating scene on and off.

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