Tinder app uses game-like interface to spark real-life connections

Lauren Hart* has two great guys to choose between. They’re cute and smart, she’s had endless conversations with both, and one is even her “Best Friend” on Snapchat after just a few weeks of knowing each other — a great scenario for any college female.

There’s only one problem: Hart’s never actually met either of them in real life. The senior met the guys on a hot app that has been surfacing for the past two years called Tinder.

“It’s like real life, but better,” reads the slogan of the app.

According to an article on C-Net, Justin Mateen, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Tinder, said that the mobile dating site has already made 500 million “matches” as of December 2013.

Tinder is much different from your average dating sites, like Match.com or eHarmony. It features a social media element tied into it that allows for users to feel almost as if they’re playing a game, compared to being on a dating site.

Users are given a choice to view up to five photos of a person from their Facebook, as well as other brief information about them, including name, age, the distance between you and them and mutual Facebook friends.

Users are then given a choice to slide to the right, which signifies you are attracted to them, or a slide to the left, which indicates you’re not interested.

Discretion is another appeal of Tinder that may be the reason why there is such a growing popularity with the app since its launch in the fall 2012. The app will only notify you that someone swiped right for you if you swiped to the right for them, creating a mutual match.

So, a user’s self-esteem remains intact without the fear of rejection.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hart, who was introduced to the app through friends.

“Then I was like, ‘Oh, he’s cute, swipe, swipe, swipe.’”

Hart’s mom was scared for her daughter, telling her to be careful.

“It was like, ‘I’m going to end up murdered by like a Craigslist’s killer,’” Hart said, with a grin on her face.

However, the app proved to be the opposite for her. In fact, Hart is loving the Tinder life, and she has never felt more comfortable. Tinder is free and easy to navigate. After making a match, you get to strike up a conversation with the other person.

“I talk to two of them every day,” Hart said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?’ But one of them knows one of my friends that I’m close to, we’ve just never seemed to meet in real life.”

Hart said she loves the simplicity of the app. She’s never tried any other dating site before, but thinks Tinder is better than anything out there.

“It’s so not me,” Hart said. “But it’s so fun.”

But she does have advice for beginning Tinder users.

“Be pickier and don’t have so many (matches) at once,” Hart said. “I would be bored and go through 50 people and I’d have 10 matches. You don’t realize how many people would be willing to start a conversation with you, so just be pickier.”

In an article released in Dec. of 2013, in Business Insider, Sean Radd, the CEO and co-founder of Tinder, said that the popular “meet-up app” looks very similar to “Hot or Not,” but Radd doesn’t like to say it’s for dating.

According to the article, Radd, who himself met his girlfriend on Tinder, said that, “investors often compare Tinder to location based meet-up app highlight, not other dating companies.”

He highlights Tinder as a social media app.

However, there are SUNY Buffalo State students that view Tinder in the same light as what Radd tries to defend, that it’s a mere site for, “hook-ups” and casual sex.

“I have seen a variety of things come from Tinder — hook-ups, dating, one-night stands, and of course a confidence booster,” said senior Courtney Taylor, who used Tinder initially because her friends said it was a good way to kill time.

Taylor said that if she had to guess, based on her personal experiences with the app, 80 percent of Tinder users use it as a tool to “hook up,” and the rest are looking to date.

Taylor remains skeptic about Tinder user’s intentions, but isn’t completely ruling out Tinder use.

“I do, but I don’t recommend Tinder,” Taylor said.

Michelle Rubado, a senior, also thinks Tinder is used for hooking up. She believes online dating is still very popular because we live in such a technology-driven age.

She has also admitted to being a Tinder user, but said unlike what she believes about the majority of Tinder users, she used the site for other purposes.

“I really wanted to meet more people,” Rubado said. “I quickly learned that Tinder was for hooking up and not meeting people worthwhile.”

As someone who’s been exposed to dating shows and sites, senior Serenity Smith is not too impressed with what Tinder has to offer. In spite of that, she still believes it is helpful and does work for individuals in search of love.

“I believe it is a good dating tool,” Smith said. “I don’t really see the difference between this app and other social media sites such as Instagram (or) Facebook … in regards to liking pictures and private messaging. But I do agree that it’s a good way to get to know people.”

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*Name has been modified at the request of the source.