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For an app that’s so universally reviled, Tinder sure does have a ton of fans among developers, who have enthusiastically lifted its most promising feature.Thanks to Tinder, pretty much every dating app on the market is geared toward tech-savvy, swipe-happy millennials.And given the enormous popularity of online dating—nearly 20 percent of adults age 35 to 44 and 25 percent aged 25 to 34 are on matchmaking sites or mobile apps, the Of course, there’s a good reason why Tinder is so popular and influential, and it primarily has to do with its distinctive swiping UX.Sarah Cardey, the director of operations and marketing at the male invite-only dating app Wyldfire, says swiping through profiles (or, in the case of the Tinder for shoes, Louboutins) is beneficial for users because it “allows you to view something with undivided attention, be able to absorb all the content you are seeing, and move on to the next piece incredibly quick,” she says.(It’s also a remarkably efficient way for developers to collect data on their users.) But this feature and Tinder’s stark, simplified interface have become permanently integrated into the digital dating space—and some people are starting to think that’s not necessarily for the best.If you take a cursory glance at the tech dating space, every new app, from JCrush (“Jewish Tinder”) to Wyldfire (“female-friendly Tinder”) to Loveflutter (“quirky Tinder”) is mentioned in the same breath as Tinder.
Recently, even online dating stalwart launched its own Tinder-esque mobile app, which—you guessed it—utilizes a swipe-right-swipe-left interface. After an app reaches a certain cultural saturation point, it’s fairly common for it to be followed by a slew of lesser imitators, which lift everything from its design features to monikers (see any app with “Insta” or “Gram” in its name).
An app as successful as Tinder, which allegedly made That’s also not to say that Tinder and its many imitators are inherently bad for online dating in itself. Finkel, a professor of social psychology at Northwestern who studies the science of online dating, is “enthusiastic” about Tinder leading the shift from desktop online dating sites to mobile apps, because it encourages people to spend more time face-to-face and less time connecting over a laptop screen.“Profile browsing tends to be ineffective, and nobody has built an algorithm that works,” he wrote me in an email.
“As such, the best way to assess compatibility is through a face-to-face meeting, and options like Tinder facilitate such meetings quite effectively.” What is potentially bad for online dating, however, is how Tinder and its monosyllabically titled spawn have homogenized the dating market to the point where it’s basically impossible for people to find a dating app with more than a few thousand users that doesn’t include the distinctive swipe-right/swipe-left interface.
For instance, Pen Xia, a computer science Ph D candidate who’s studied online dating models at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, applauds Tinder and its imitators for starting the trend in mobile dating apps of cutting down on user info.
Compared to desktop dating sites, says Xia, Tinder and similar apps like Hinge and Wyldfire do not require users to input so much profile information, which is much more “convenient” for the user.
But the lack of personal information on people’s profiles also reduces the chances that users will bond over common interests—say, a love of reggaeton, or giraffes—and will focus more on their profile photos and whether or not they want to bone each other.