If you are at a college party on any given day, chances are that you'll spot someone swiping on their phone, or, as some might call it, “tindering.” Tinder, a social dating app launched in 2013, has taken over and replaced, to a significant extent, traditional dating on college campuses.
In college, I've seen a higher percentage of my friends have one-night stands than serious long-term relationships. The prevalence of hook-up culture at Claremont Mckenna College makes it a perhaps not-so-surprising result when I noticed the majority of my friends are on Tinder.
Tinder offers an easy way to 'meet' people, making up for the constant lack of real-life conversations between peers who are not in the same circle of friends. What surprised me most in college is how people always seem to be so busy and look like they have important commitments to fulfill right after classes; they have to dash out of the classroom the moment the professor adjourns class. Even in my nineteen-person classes, there has never been a time when I could recall all my peers' names.
Deprived of the chance to meet people in real life, students use Tinder as an alternative method for dating. Tinder offers users a simple way to judge other users almost solely based on their appearances. If two users both like each other, Tinder allows them to start a virtual conversation. From there, it could really lead to anything–a date, a hook-up, or a relationship. That all depends on user preferences.
In the majority of the cases I've heard about people tend to use Tinder to go on dates. There are some dates that went great; there are also ones that went wrong. Either way, Tinder seems to be the primary method people use to ask others out on dates. Interestingly, people seem to be more comfortable talking to others behind the veil of mobile dating app—the guy who never says hello in class has no problem starting a witty conversation on Tinder.
But Tinder conversations and text messages lack the nuance and meaning that real-life conversations can offer. People develop positive feelings for one another due to an incredible variety of features—voice, smile, or even smell. These characteristics disappear on Tinder conversations. Consequently, the impression and knowledge one has of a potential partner via Tinder is not nearly as complete as the knowledge one could obtain in real life.
If the ability to establish a deeper, more meaningful relationship with another person is something we seek, Tinder won't help us. Tinder provides an effective way of viewing profiles and possibly having rudimentary conversations, but it does not necessarily translate into meaningful or long-term relationships. The better alternative is to get to know more people in your life -– don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation with a stranger; to ask people if they would like to grab a meal with you; to ask someone to go on a date with you. As human beings, we generally appreciate compliments from others; we love to know if there are people who like us, so don't be afraid to tell someone how you feel.
Caroline Lu is a senior Economics major at Claremont McKenna College. She lived in China for many many years and London briefly for one year while she was studying abroad at the London School of Economics