Left, Right, Right, Right, Left… Not only scrolling, but also swiping has been added to the extensive thumb and hand exercises the average adolescent does on the daily. In the contemporary digital society we live in, even love seems to have entered the digital realm.
Even though a well-known dating application like Tinder seemed to introduce love into the digital realm, the concept of digital dating is not new. Already in 1994 Matching.com was registered as the first ever dating site (Ranzini and Lutz 2016, 81). Taking this into account, dating online has been around for 24 years. 24 years of digital matchmaking, inevitably resulting in 24 years of romantic success-stories, sappy dates, and additionally, romantic mishaps when the digital meets the “Real World”.
When the Digital realm meets with the “Real World” there are multiple factors that could not line up. My endeavors on dating websites and/or applications have not really proven to be fruitful nor pleasant. Every time I ‘achieve’ a match, a Catfish episode starts playing in the back of my mind, where Nev Schulman and Max Joseph follow me around when I try to knock on a door of someone’s house in the middle of nowhere… The possibility for users of digital dating to (to a certain extent) become someone else is a scary thought when entering the world of online dating. When the Digital realm then meets the “Real World” it is inevitable to be disappointed or hurt when the person you trusted turns out to be someone else.
Authenticity and Deception
Dating websites and Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter and even Hyves (back in the day), allow us all to experiment with our [online] identities. However, there is one very noteworthy detail that is essential when discussing the ‘online-identity-experiment’. Facebook, for example, is a Social Medium where relationships and friendships that were established in the “Real World” are transferred into the Digital Realm. I for one think that our Facebook connections are determinant in us defining our identities. Tinder and other dating websites turn this concept around. Instead of relationship>digital identity, they move from digital identity>relationship (Ranzini and Lutz 2016, 83) . Relating that to my previous statement, there are no connections on the dating website to build your online identity with.
“(…) research on dating sites has concentrated on users’ degrees of authenticity and deception. (…) [research] has identified four types of self-presentation on dating sites: true selves, actual selves, ought-to selves, and ideal selves.”Ranzini and Lutz 2016, 83
Putting this online identity issue aside, it is rather interesting to look at the way Tinder actually works. (Ulterior motive, I want to know why I have had little success on the application – but we won’t talk about that).
According to an article in Metro (27/02/2016), Tinder works on a set of rather peculiar algorithms. Tinder advertises itself as an app focused on location. One of the questions that you need to answer before you can start to swipe is the maximum distance you would to put between you and your matches. This concept is called Location-Based Real-Time Dating (LBRTD) (Ranzini and Lutz 2016, 81). However, as Metro points out, Tinder will first show you 10 to 15 profiles that are deemed ‘successful’ by the general Tinder population. This only means that Tinder shows that there are ‘hot’ people on the app, and that it is likely for you to find someone you will like.
Additionally, your likes and dislikes and activity on the application are all taken into account in the intricate algorithm that runs the app.
Of course my pessimistic view on all the Catfish in the sea and online identity construction should not stand in the way of a good online romance. Let us not forget, online dating has made love so much more available and approachable. I speak for myself when I say that I am far more likely to ask someone out online than in person. I decided to blog about this subject because Tinder (and the whole concept of online dating) was one of the first things that I thought of when I received the question to relate Digital Media to Society. Thanks to Tinder and other dating apps I have gained important experiences. From my perspective, Tinder and dating sites link Digital Media and Society in a unique manner. A manner of limited physical exercise with my thumb, that is.
- Ranzini, Giulia, Christoph Lutz. 2016. “Love at first swipe? Explaining Tinder self-presentation and motives.” Mobile Media and Communication Vol. 5 issue 1: 80-101.
- Scott, Ellen. 2016. “How does Tinder actually work.” Metro, February 27, 2016. https://metro.co.uk/2016/02/27/how-does-tinder-actually-work-5721632/