With 50 million active users, some of which are Olympic athletes, the explosive success of the app Tinder has opened the floodgates for online dating. Niche “micro-Tinders” are springing up and attracting thousands of users seemingly overnight. After decades of limited appeal, online dating has hit mainstream en force.
Why is a behaviour that was so recently considered embarrassing and desperate now cool? If you’ve used these apps, the benefits are clear. For our less-single readers, it boils down to ease and accessibility. Unlike their web browser predecessors, these mobile apps can be used anywhere, don’t require time or effort to sign up and build a profile. Plus they have incredibly intuitive interfaces and are not mutually exclusive (i.e. a single user can easily use multiple apps. In fact, a single user can often create multiple profiles across multiple apps… but that’s a different story).
But at the heart of dating app virality is the gamification of dating, that addictive right swipe. Navigating through a virtual deck of potential matches creates a powerful urge to keep swiping since you cannot see who is next (the next swipe could yield your best match yet). In fact, the popularity of the swipe is being replicated across many functions in what the Telegraph calls ‘the Tinderisation of modern life’.
As this New Yorker cartoon implies, Tinder affects how we behave and think beyond the app. For one, mobile dating gives us access to an infinite supply of potential suitors. This can cause us to become maximisers and continuously search for someone just that little better in the endless pool. Only more swipes will unravel the full psychological consequences (good and bad) of this new dating culture.
This list originally appeared in Moving World Wednesday 20150401
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