It was the beginning of fall semester 2018. Incoming freshmen swarmed Salisbury University; their eagerness to meet people and begin those amazing “college years” everyone seems to reminisce about was evident.
One night, lying bored in her dorm room, 18-year-old Gabriella decided to download Tinder to try and make friends. She quickly discovered that many of the guys on the popular dating app were NOT looking to be just friends with her. Their cheesy pick-up lines made her laugh, while others did not try to hide their true intentions.
She eventually deleted Tinder, but watched from the sidelines as both her guy and girlfriends became obsessed with swiping left or right on this app. It became almost like a viral game.
Why had this app captured the attention of so many Salisbury students? And did it change the fundamental way millennials date?
The most direct way to answer these questions was to make a Tinder account.
Matches were almost instantaneous after swiping right or left on different profiles. And it only increased as it got later in the night.
Many males reported simply wanting non-emotional, quick and easy hook-ups. Apps like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr significantly widen the pool of potential partners in your area, and a college campus is the perfect environment for an app like this. These apps are also geared toward instant gratification and easy accessibility.
According to research done by Esquire, “Only 54% of women said they use Tinder for relationships, while 47% of survey responders use Tinder specifically for hooking up.”
After matching with Charlie, 22, he says more often than not he “power swipes.” Power swiping is when a Tinder user repeatedly swipes right without bothering to look at the pictures or bios in order to maximize their match potential.
When asked what the point of power swiping was, he candidly responded, “The more matches I have, the better chances I have of getting laid.”
But this point of view is not only reserved for males. In our increasingly technological world, women have used dating apps to explore their own sexual freedom as well.
Kate, 21, says that a relationship is the furthest thing from her mind.
“Girls have physical needs the same way boys do,” Kate said. “I use Tinder as a way to hook up without the messy strings attached.”
According to an article posted on Psychology Today by Elisabeth Timmermans, Ph.D., she found 13 motives for why people use dating apps like Tinder. The most commonly cited reason was as “an entertainment tool when wanting to pass time.” When phone users have already exhausted their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, they turn to Tinder to swipe away boredom and talk to new people.
This assertion was backed up by Emily, 21, who says she uses Tinder when bored in class or when she’s feeling lonely or insecure.
“Tinder is cool because you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness of rejection, you know? You only know you match with someone if you both swipe right and that makes you feel good inside,” said Emily. “It’s like, oh yay, he finds me attractive too, and it can get quite addicting.”
The feeling of happiness when you get a notification or a “like” on social networks releases a hit of dopamine in the brain. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel wanted. Tinder is an app dedicated to getting that rush and boosting one’s ego.
Other motivations in the article included using Tinder out of curiosity, in order to befriend strangers, to find love and to become better at flirting.
Jake, 20, admits meeting his last ex-girlfriend on Tinder and doesn’t view himself as a “casual hook-up guy.” Instead he sees the app as a way of connecting with people he probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“It’s easier for many of us to talk and connect over the phone instead of initiating a conversation/relationship in person,” said Jake. “I’m rather shy, and don’t have the confidence to just walk up to girls.”
Dating apps like Tinder are giving millennials the opportunity to meet and connect with new people in their area. These apps aren’t transforming dating or “hook-up culture”–they are simply giving it a different avenue.
By SOFIA CARRASCO
Featured photo: Amy Wojtowicz graphic.