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Last night I went to Trident Booksellers & Café for coffee. I took my seat at a scratched-up wooden table in the corner.
“Ew, she’s so ugly,” a voice chimed.
I glanced up, flushed. The voice came from a boy seated to my right. Was he talking about me? I felt the blood boil under my cheeks. But he wasn’t looking at me, he was looking at his phone.
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“Tinder sucks,” his friend said. “Swipe left.”
Ugh. Tinder has destroyed the dating scene. By encouraging people to objectify each other and make surface-level judgments about each other, Tinder has killed modern romance.
Although 26 million matches are made on Tinder daily, the app breeds disconnection. Rather than connect to real people on campus, students swipe left or right to each other on Tinder. And for the most part, that’s all they do. More than 84 percent of matches never message each other. The ‘match’ itself is satisfactory, and students discard the pursuit of deeper connection.
Tinder is all about quantity, not quality. Before dating apps, when relationships were built in real life (yes, people used to meet for the first time in public), students had two or three steady partners and an occasional hookup during their college years. With Tinder, students now have unlimited options, and the average college woman or man will have over 200 matches. If two people meet and don’t immediately connect, then they quickly jump to the next match. It’s not about who, it’s about how many.
By creating a space for rapid hookups, Tinder cultivates inauthenticity. Tinder is a pretend space where we can filter out our quirks and flaws. By presenting stylized, ideal selves to potential matches, Tinder allows us to dodge vulnerability. We now value security over love and openness. Tinder gives us an excuse to be dishonest with ourselves and the people around us. Just as the saying goes, “Nobody’s life is as great as their Instagram,” nobody is as flawless as their Tinder.
Tinder also numbs us. Someone breaks up with their sweetheart and within 12 hours they’re swiping left and right. Tinder might get us a few matches and boost our confidence, but it won’t fix our broken hearts. Tinder is too often used to distract us from the feelings we must learn to face.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying romance is never found on Tinder. People match, meet, ride in a helicopter and fall in love. It can happen, but it’s rare. Too often, students match and message and maybe hookup.
Hookups are fun and flirty, I don’t discount that, but maybe they shouldn’t be sought on an online dating app. At least not in college, where there are so many other places to meet people. With over 200 matches pooled into one mobile app, nobody is special.
If you don’t want to use Tinder for hookups, but you can’t stand the idea of deleting it because you love the power of the swipe, then read this story. Maggie Archer, a 20-year-old student from Missouri, uses Tinder to scam money off men. I don’t endorse this in any way, but it’s a neat strategy. Cha-ching.
Savanah is a Boston University student in the College of Communication (COM), class of 2019. With an interest in branding and promotion, she aspires to enter the PR industry upon graduation. Savanah has taken on a variety of leadership roles in the communication field. She is the PR/Advertising manager for the Boston University Community Service Center and an editor for Boston University's Her Campus (HCBU). Savanah interns for MEDIAGIRLS, a nonprofit based in Boston, where she helps teenage girls think critically about the role of women in fashion and beauty advertising.