The growing interest of on-the-go dating
Despite it perhaps playing into the modern “hookup culture,” Tinder is becoming an increasingly viable source when it comes to relationships. People want instant gratification, and Tinder is able to provide that. But what is desired more than to be instantly gratified by a right swipe or a quick complement is to not be unsafely misled. By linking to numerous social media platforms, Tinder works hard to follow through in that regard.
The main reason why Tinder has been able to gain so much traction as a relatively respectable way to find love is through various methods of uncertainty reduction. This is simply the idea, coined by communications professor Charles Berger, that states that when people meet one another, regardless of where or how, their primary goal is to gain more information about the other person. The reduction of uncertainty in social situations allows an individual to become more confident about the person they are otherwise unsure of.
According to New York Daily News, one-third of US marriages now start with some form of online dating. This can include both social media and dating websites or apps. Even though these methods lack initial experience of one’s speech and body language, they can still lead to interpersonal attractions that are similar to those in face-to-face settings.
In an article in Communication Research, Marjolijn L. Antheunis discusses the ways in which people are still able to effectively communicate despite the barrier of the World Wide Web. In these “limited-cue settings,” methods used to reduce uncertainty include asking questions and disclosing personal information. In these situations, the nature of the self-disclosure was often more personal than when people shared things about themselves in person. Without these methods of reducing uncertainty, Tinder would not be successful because of the limitations that it imposes on users, not only in terms of taking away the effects of body language, but also the amount of comfort that someone has when talking to someone that they can see in person, rather than online. Clearly, attaining a strong relationship is not limited to what can be accomplished in face-to-face settings.
Tinder also demonstrates the strategy of forming an opinion on others indirectly by viewing their interests and mutual likes. The app connects to Facebook to provide pictures and ages to be viewed by the users. In fact, it is a requirement of the app that the user connects with Facebook. According to an article in the New Yorker published in 2015, sharing more information on Facebook “affirms an individual’s connections with others, and broadcasts not only these bonds, but the nature of these bonds, with others.” If someone has a Facebook account, then they seemingly have and care about connections with others, which is a humanizing trait. Because of this, people are likely to view having a Facebook, or any other social media presence for that matter, as another means to reduce uncertainty. There is also a feature that was introduced more recently that allows a person to link their Instagram profiles to their Tinder account as well. Having more social media presence reduces the uncertainty that someone may have about a person because of the way it allows that person to publicly disclose more information about themselves.
Even the creator of Tinder is taking steps to make it a more valid channel for finding real relationships. In addition to social media account links, Tinder also displays all of a user’s Facebook interests, along with a common connections feature that allows the user to see the degree by which they’re separated from another person based on mutual Facebook friends. According to the president of Tinder, Sean Rad, this feature “helps the user assess the person they’re matching with and start conversations, providing users with more relevant information [that gets] a conversation going.”
In the last few months, there has been an upgrade to the chatting function that allows the user to upload photos directly into a chat in the app. This change in format is designed to make users want to stay in the app longer before switching to text messaging or other forms of communication. According to the 2016 Tech Crunch article by Sarah Perez, many users, especially women, are often hesitant to switching to other means of communication. By taking these steps to improve the chatting function, Tinder is striving to make direct communication in the app more effective.
It is clear that Tinder is making strides to become more than simply a “hookup app,” as it is often referred to. Users are able to use these new features to continue to reduce uncertainty, which leads to the creation of stronger relationships, even if those relationships are initially formed online. Once the initial foundation has been laid for communication by displaying mutual friends and interests, it becomes less daunting than other online dating methods.
As much as we hate to admit it, we all care about the way other people view our online selves that we advertise on social media. However, these are the things that open doors to communication in the online world. And if it were not for this initial step through the door, we would be even further away from attaining the real love that we all want, and can certainly get on Tinder or elsewhere.
Emily Ehrenberg is a first-year integrated marketing communications major who swipes right for Buzzsaw fans. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.