Relationships and social media go hand in hand these days. I know many couples who met on social media or, more precisely, via a dating app. My partner and I wanted to try out the famous dating app Tinder is a small experiment. This blog will go into this fun yet educational project’s specifics and the relationship between social media and relationships.
“This app is rigged.” –my partner
While installing a dating app isn’t rocket science, I’m a little rusty in the dating department, having been in a relationship for more than five years, and am now engaged. When I eventually decided to do so, I discovered how easy it is to communicate with someone almost instantly. My partner and I wanted to try a small experiment with Tinder, a popular dating app. It started as a silly game to see who could draw the most admirers, but I soon realized a substantial gap between the number of admirers I had and his. Is it true that men use Tinder more than women? Maybe the fact that I had more hits was just a coincidence. Whatever the case may be, this was only one of many observations I made during my brief time with the Tinder app.
Enable me to rewind a bit if you’re unfamiliar with the app Tinder like I was. Tinder is “a location-based social search mobile app that encourages communication between mutually interested users, allowing matched users to chat,” according to the official definition (Google). In three simple steps, a fast introduction to Tinder can be given: Download the app, create a profile, and begin swiping! My partner and I agreed to restrict our photo uploads to three (and what a decision it was) because we didn’t want to disclose too much about ourselves, but only enough to pique other users’ interest.
You never know how low your writing is until you have to write a paragraph in the summary section for yourself. You don’t want to come across as impatient or uninterested, so keep it short and open-minded. Some users used movie quotes, while others used more erotic requests (no, I’m not kidding). Whatever you want to include reveals a lot about the kind of person you are and the kind of person you are looking for. I didn’t have one on my list. Despite my lack of a personal paragraph, locals and users from all over the state started to give me matches. It was at this stage that I realized how easily you get attached to a stranger. Before this app, I just knew my small group of friends and classmates; now, I’m linked with hundreds of people from all walks of life who are only looking to connect.
The biggest flaw I found with this app was how visually intense it was. The photo of the consumer is the first thing you see. To get more information about the user, you must click on a small icon. So we swipe left or right purely based on a person’s appearance (it seems a bit shallow if you ask me). The app then creates a list of users in the region to show you. To decide if you’re interested or not, swipe left for “not interested” and right for “interested,” and swipe up for a “mega like” if you’re interested in anyone.
For those who are about to say, “Well, the first thing we see is the guy, even though we aren’t using an app and are seeing someone in real life” (what does “real life” mean anyway, we aren’t living in a video game). This is something I’ve learned from classmates, and while it’s a fair point, getting an app that caters to a person’s real interests shouldn’t be purely based on physical appearance. Why are you inquiring? Since there is a phenomenon known as “catfishing.”
“This girl said she wants a guy with a nice tongue…at least she’s honest” –my partner.
It’s difficult to believe that people had to connect 30 years ago—what an idea. We now have the ease and privilege of connecting over long distances thanks to social media. A text message is sent around the world in a matter of seconds. Tinder opens up a whole new world of dating possibilities, but does it also erase the intimacy element of building a relationship face-to-face? One might argue that we now have a room where people can feel more at ease with themselves and get to know the other person before meeting them because we no longer have to talk face-to-face. This reminds me of a quote by writers Makau and Marty on why we need these experiences and relationships to feel diverse in our lives: “the diversity of life is maintained by a network of relationships, where each affects the other in ever-widening circles.” This interconnectedness and its built-in reciprocities are essential for survival and well-being” (Makau & Marty, 2013, p. 23). We, humans, thrive on making and sustaining bonds to feel fulfilled.
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Is it true that a couple can choose how their relationship is portrayed to the public? “Couples too, struggle to navigate what is acceptable to share when it involves their partner, and each person has different boundaries about what, how, and to whom information about them is shared,” according to an article titled How Social Media Affects Our Relationships. Even if a profile is set to private, the chances of personal information being shared with a broader audience are high” (Siegel, 2015). Through the advent of technology, intimate partners can now communicate their relationship publicly for the benefit of practically everyone they meet. By encouraging people to share and post things with each other, social networking sites are used to recreate face-to-face contact and establish interpersonal relationships (Farrugia, 2013).
Is it, however, actually safe to share too much personal information on these dating sites? My partner and I made up fictional names if we bumped into someone we knew on this platform. Although Tinder asks you to explain yourself, I didn’t think this was enough detail to trigger an information overload, but rather enough to pique others’ interest sufficient to create a link. This reminds me of the balance between speech and privacy since the article states that “when using social networking sites, the problem of privacy is a relevant concern.” This dialect discusses how much information is shared on social media and how much is kept hidden from users. Sharing too much on social media can distract from the intimacy of a couple’s relationship” (Wilkerson, 2017).
Read: How Does Tinder Work?
Care: Overthinking and Obsession
“Social media has created jealous behavior over illusions. Sadly some are envious of things, relationships, and lifestyles that don’t even exist.” -anonymous.
Social networking has always been a way to get more information in a shorter amount of time. This is one reason why it may be daunting, because there might be too much information for couples to manage on a relationship level, resulting in information overload or obsession. In our lives, we need a sense of social support, which is described as “the emotionally sustaining qualities of relationships” (e.g., a substance that one is loved, cared for, and listened to). Hundreds of research indicate that social reinforcement has a positive effect on mental and physical health” (Cohen 2004; Uchino 2004). That said, it’s understandable why partners become excessively preoccupied with meaningless data. My partner and I discovered this within the first 10 minutes of using Tinder because we were curious about what people thought, whether we were private messaged, and so on. It’s all too convenient to get caught up in social networking boundaries. “The tension caused by continuously attempting to portray an unrealistic and unachievable perception of perfection within your social network is how social media triggers depression and anxiety” (Amedie, 2015). Obsession or over-caring about yourself might not be suitable for you because you’re always trying to be the perfect couple, but is that possible?
“If you feel the need to snoop on your partner’s online activity, then you need to have a bigger discussion about your lack of confidence in the relationship or your feelings of internal security in general,” this quote speaks volumes about our society’s current desire to seek information from our partners’ social media accounts (Marin, 2017). While Tinder is not the same as Facebook or Instagram, there is still a mode of communication inside the app, making people even more interested in seeing what kind of people their partners are attracting and their intentions.
Taking a different view, “couples who have been together for ten (10) years or less exhibit different trends of technology use in the sense of their relationship compared to those who have been together for a longer period,” according to Couples, the Internet, and Social Media (Duggan & Lenhart, 2014). This may be because younger couples are more used to incorporating technology into their relationships in the first place. Individually, I’m sure each partner uses social networking sites for contact regularly, so it may be easier to integrate into a partnership and build trust. I believe that older generations realized how much information they could conceal from their partners through social networking sites or apps, and as a result, increased infidelity in their relationships.
Overall, dating apps like Tinder have opened incredible doors for couples and will continue to be a valuable networking tool. My partner and I have now had our first taste of the social media dating app world and are less judgmental because it is no less of a commitment than a relationship that started in person. Regardless of how you begin your relationship, the most important thing to note is to keep it consistent! Seeing the different aspects of apps like Tinder has opened my eyes to how contact has become almost effortless. Have fun swiping!