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Swipe Right For Love: Tinder And The Many Sides Of ‘Hooking Up’ Online

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By Sanjana Ahuja:

Gone are the days where suitors wooed their intended lovers with sweet smelling bouquets of flowers, serenaded them with cheesy poetry or slyly glanced at each other from across the street. The timeless dance of flirtation, accompanied by a tentative risk of rejection or acceptance, has been fodder for many love stories. However, things have changed rather considerably and a newly unemployed baby named Cupid isn’t the only one who is mourning the demise of romance.


In a world being centred around the latest apps on the market, Tinder seems to have struck gold in the arena of online dating. It doesn’t offer any fancy patented algorithms promising to help you find your soulmate. Instead, it shows you a picture of another user in the same locality and gives you two easy options – to swipe left (don’t like) or to swipe right (instant attraction!). Two users who mutually ‘like’ each other’s pictures are termed as a match. Sounds rather shallow, doesn’t it? Then why is it so popular among the millions of users around the globe?

Tinder is estimated to have 1.2 billion active profiles, while its members spend roughly 90 minutes on the app each day. This excessive use can be attributed to people’s obsessive need to find a ‘perfect match’ in the quickest way possibly.

Tinder mimics the guilty exhilaration of checking out someone from across the room, but with the bonus tactile feature of being able to swipe a ‘reject’ out of your phone screen (and hence, your life). It thus eliminates the risk of a shameful rejection, as you will only be paired up with someone who responded positively to you and be oblivious to those who ‘swiped left’.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University, defends this controversial app by delving into the science that goes into it. Quick judgments based solely on an image — the kind that Tinder users often make — may not be as trivial or insensitive as they seem. “There’s a reason they call it ‘love at first sight,’ not love at first conversation, first smell or first joke,” says Dr. Fisher. The human brain is built to process visual information, and that information goes deeper than mere aesthetic judgments. As Molly Mulshine says in this article“Looking at someone’s face, it’s possible to glean their age, grooming habits and cultural background—even their personality. In fact, Tinder is probably more efficient than attempting to find a mate at a bar.”

Kat Ascharya writes in an article titled Tinder Has a Dirty Secret. And This Little Black Book Just Revealed It“But dating on Tinder is giving rise to complications, including what many call “dating ADD” — an inundation of choice that is often counterproductive in making solid romantic connections.” It’s making dating into a game where even people in long-term relationships are checking in to see what their ‘options’ are.

“Theoretically, Tinder could have just happened onto a recipe for techno-utopian feminism” writes Kat Stoeffel in an article in nymag. She further adds “The app had plenty of fans eager to claim that its popularity with women had proven, once and for all, that women can enter casual arrangements just like men — the egalitarian promised land! But the company itself waved away such implications. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Mateen (who was suspended yesterday) was adamant that Tinder was not a hookup app. “Fundamentally women aren’t wired that way, right?” he asked.”

Also, according to a complaint filed by Whitney Wolfe (co-founder of Tinder), Mateen urged Wolfe to avoid being publicly associated with the company as “being a female co-founder of Tinder was ‘slutty’ because it is an app people use to ‘hook up.’”

The fundamental premise of Tinder is objectification of oneself. Your success on the app depends on how well you can ‘sell’ yourself to another based on a physically attractive photo. All it takes is for your picture to hold a fellow user’s attention for a microsecond, long enough to swipe your thumb right. With the app making more than 15 million matches daily, it is greatly troubling that no one seems to bat an eye at the scale at which sexual objectification is taking place here and how problematic the situation is.

Tinder founders do not approve of the app being dubbed a ‘hook-up factory’ and instead see it is simply as a way to meet new people and make even possibly lasting relationship. However, I feel the app is just adding to our addiction of creating a carefully curated, Instagram-filtered mere photoshopped sliver of our true multifaceted, diverse and complex selves. Is it really possible to tell if you’d have a fun night out on the town with a person based on a carefully cropped mirror selfie and a Dark Knight Rises quote?

There’s nothing wrong with having a need for consensual instant gratification and for easy access to a lifestyle choice that one has made peace with, but Tinder also comes with the baggage of psychological distress and social anxiety that is caused by a no one ‘swiping right’ on you. Call me old fashioned but I’d rather bump into someone at the supermarket or a party and participate in real life interactions.

Go out, meet new people, improve your social skills and swipe Tinder out of your life.

You must be to comment.
  1. shmeetes

    I agree with this completely.

    I have some friends who used Tinder even though it’s completely out of character for them. Some of the reasons they give for using it is that Tinder gives them the opportunity to get back into the dating scene, meet and flirt with people they would never approach in real life for a casual banter. When someone swipes in their favour, it also gave them confidence.

    Pretty soon though they realised that the men they met through Tinder were either just after a fling, were a little creepy or otherwise not at all the right person for them, because at the end of the day, a decision made in microseconds like you said is unlikely to be right!

    1. Sanjana Ahuja

      I’m glad to see that I’m not a lone wolf who’s not captivated by this enormously popular app. Thank you for taking out the time to share your views too!

  2. Divyansh

    See… Everything has it’s own merits and demerits… It depends on our discretion how we tackle with the things 🙂

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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