Written by Pooja Narayanan
In an age fueled by social media, digital dating has become increasingly common, and more importantly, socially acceptable. From traditional websites like eHarmony or Match.com, the digital dating scene has rapidly evolved. Apps like Hinge, The League, and Bumble have served almost every market segment, offering their own twist on online dating. But with over 57 million users globally, the most popular and notorious of dating apps is, by far, Tinder.
Tinder popularized the act of “swiping,” an easy way to decide if you want to match with someone or not. In 2016, Tinder allowed Fast Company reporter Austin Carr to view his internal Tinder rating, based on an internal “Elo score”. According to then-CEO Sean Rad, Tinder operates on a voting system. Someone’s score is based on how many people swipe right on them, whether it be based on their appearance or the strength of their bio. But what makes someone more or less attractive can be subjective; for example, some people like facial hair while others like tattoos. Others may value education and occupation rather than appearance. In 2019, Tinder revealed that it was no longer basing ratings on “Elo scores”, though it was unclear what algorithm replaced it.
At NYU, the Tinder community is large, and opinions regarding it are mixed. Some students have met their significant others on Tinder, but others feel like it is ineffective, preferring date more “organically” through their social circles. And many feel like the app’s purpose is to facilitate hook-ups and sex, and nothing more. Said one Stern sophomore about Tinder, “I don’t use it but it sounds bad, quite honestly.” Others preferred to use different apps, with one senior stating, “I’ve never used Tinder, but I used to use Bumble and Hinge. I stopped because I’m moving across the country in a few months, but I also got tired of doing the same introduction every time I matched with someone.”
Dating apps still do have a slight stigma attached, and for some, having a profile with little control over who sees it can be daunting. One student recalled coming across someone she reported to during her summer internship, and “it being the most awkward thing ever.” She continued, stating that she “got over it quickly though, because I feel like there’s an unspoken understanding between us about being on Tinder.”
Despite this stigma, Tinder (and other apps) can be a great way for people to date outside of their social circles. Meeting people with other viewpoints becomes much easier, as unorthodox as it may be. “For me, using apps to meet people is definitely not like the plot lines from rom-coms you watch growing up,” said another Stern senior. “But after accepting that it’s 2019 and it’s okay to move beyond tradition, dating apps are a great way to meet people outside of your social circles. I know students who have begun long-term relationships on apps, as well as everything in between. Obviously everyone has their own preference for how they meet people, but as long as dating apps exist— why not?”