Notes on Tinder: How the app turns dating into a game

It was 1 a.m. and I was sitting in my floor’s lounge laughing at pictures of guys with trucks and dead deer. That night we had all decided to create Tinder accounts to entertain ourselves. We spent the night discussing and mocking the different profiles and conversations that followed the matches, swiping right and left and questioning the hunting pictures that were prevalent in many profiles. It was a fun game. This is why I first felt there was something wrong with the app. It makes judging people based on their looks a game. It even asks “Would you like to keep playing?” after you match with someone. This dehumanizes all the people on the other end of the app. It makes them simply a pretty or an ugly picture, nothing more. There are no feelings, thoughts or personalities attached. I myself fell victim to this way of thinking. This attitude towards the app is why it makes it so easy for the users to be cold or cruel to their matches.

Unfortunately, this reality has come to affect my best friend. She cannot and does not detach herself from her Tinder counterparts. She completely understands that there are human beings on the other end of the line. She empathizes and feels for them, tries to avoid hurting them or rejecting them. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, this is the correct way to approach other humans. But those on the other end of the line are not as kind to her as she is to them. They insult her and make her feel bad about herself because they don’t feel for this human on the other side. They simply see a two-dimensional picture.

This is where my anger towards the app started, with a close friend being hurt over arbitrary things like not responding quickly enough. She doesn’t deserve that, no one deserves to be called a bitch, ugly or anything like that. But Tinder provides the outlet for these disgruntled people. It creates a space where people can take out their anger on others without having to suffer the consequences or see a reaction to their words.

This is not a new problem. This is a known side effect of the internet. People can say what they want, however horrible it may be, without having to see the harmful effect it has on the people to whom they are speaking. Tinder and other apps like it provide too much of a negative outlet. Unfortunately, this problem affects mainly women, and especially those who already have low self-esteem.

Tinder extends the metaphor of dating as a “game” with “players” into an actual iPhone game. It should be classified under the category “Games” in the app store. This creates a problem in that it allows for a distancing of self from others so that others’ feelings do not have to be taken into account. It allows for the advancement of human cruelty. This virtual representation of dating as a game in which you make quick judgments based on appearance creates an atmosphere in which people do not have to make real human connections and thereby diminishes empathy and compassion within relationships.