As an Indian, I can tell you that anything with a “new” tag impresses us. Introduce just anything – a new concept, a new business model, a new product or a new service, and you can see Indians go totally crazy. It doesn’t necessarily need to be western. But if it is western, it sure does witness some degree of backlash from the Bhartiya-sanskar-bachao gang. Shrugging the videshi tag, the new activity soon peppers itself with some desi flavours and the country embraces it with open arms.
Tinder is one such new service that was launched in India aimed at the youth of this emerging economy. Three years since its launch in the country, the dating service with the tagline “it’s like real life, but better,” has identified India as its top market in Asia. In January, Tinder announced its plans to establish an international office in India keeping in view the country’s youth’s interest and the company’s future growth prospects. What was once foreign, is now a topic of everyday chatter, more obviously amongst the youth for now.
No prizes for guessing that the user growth is being attributed to the Indian populace realizing the importance of connecting with one another and becoming braver on experimentation and expression. Those who are avidly using Tinder are being looked up as the more ‘composed crowd’ who don’t give a dime to what the world may think of the way they conduct their personal life, while those refraining from it are being touted as more ‘traditional’.
As a young woman of modern India, in her late 20s, I, too, have been intrigued by this new service. Mesmerizing and appearing unique, Tinder caught my attention on several occasions. Though I must admit that I haven’t got a chance to make my own Tinder profile, I have had abundant exposure to it, thanks to my feisty friends who are glued to the application to explore the prospects of connecting with aplenty. I must also admit that I am not only surprised but quite sickened by the magnanimous acceptance of this service. You like the way someone looks, swipe right to tell them you are interested, and welcome the prospect of dating – the purpose of logging onto the application. So, in clearer words, you decide who could be your date and likely future partner, soul mate or friend, based on their looks. Shouldn’t we, as the youth of this country, think twice before embedding such kind of a shallow mindset into the society?
Didn’t the youth of India take great effort to break the customary style of arranged marriage in which the prospective couple or let me clearly say, the groom chooses the bride based on merely seeing her picture? Surely, it has evolved from a lifetime together to a one-time or multiple time dates, but it is utterly disheartening to see that the country that had begun to move beyond looks, has only returned to the practice in another way. I also wonder if youngsters ever think what happens to those who don’t have ‘super attractive’ pictures uploaded on the application resulting in lacklustre or no interest from other Tinder users. A close friend once told me that in his four months of activity on Tinder, no one had approached him to connect, and his swiping right had never resulted in a match (not sure if Tinder allows that). Not only did this snatch away his confidence to present himself in front of the opposite sex, it also gave him nightmares of a life alone.
While I have no reservations against Tinder or those enjoying the Tinder experience, I think it’s important for the Indian youth to acknowledge the service better as a hook-up site than a dating one, so that they have appropriate expectations from the application. The latest news I read about Tinder was that the company has added a new feature that allows users to find STD testing sites in their area. The addition of such a feature indicates that at least the company is clear about the expectations its users must set on how people meet.
And then exceptions exist everywhere. I know someone who found their soul mate on Tinder, and is scheduled to tie the knot this year. Now, that’s amazing!