Leah Gillon: What Tinder takes away from dating

When I first heard my friends were using the new dating app Tinder, I thought, “Finally. Grindr for everyone.”

Tinder matches users within a close radius to each other by displaying a few pro- file pictures from Facebook
accompanied by a list of their mutual friends and interests.

However, it’s more than an app – it’s a game. With minimal information about someone, you determine if you would like to “keep playing” by pressing a green heart. If you’re not interested, you simply press a red X, at which point the word “nope” flashes across the screen.

Dating can be uncomfortable and awkward, and some people simply don’t like putting themselves out there. That’s why Tinder can be a tempting and convenient option for some people.

But as an app intended to spark immediate connections, Tinder removes a very critical step: the initial feeling of discomfort and unease of all new relationships.

Yes, dating can be daunting at first, but that nervousness is also what makes it fun. Instead of pushing both sides out of their comfort zones, Tinder sidesteps any initial awkwardness by eliminating the need to gather the courage to introduce yourself to a person.

Tinder acts as a shield against rejection. You can hide behind your iPhone instead of asking someone out. It’s a buffer against the awkward moments when you’re unsure whether you should introduce yourself or continue hanging on to the wall.

Dating isn’t easy, but it’s this difficulty that also makes it worthwhile.

Whether Tinder will become a way for future generations to meet their spouses or if it’s just a passing fad, I’m not sure. But one thing I know is that relationships are complicated and intimate, and the process of seeking partners to share this experience with is often enigmatic.

But reducing an integral aspect of the dating experience to something you play on your phone diminishes the thrill of approaching a new person for the first time and actually working up the courage to ask him or her out on a date. Technology is supposed to make life easier, but by adding shortcuts, we actually take away the raw humanity of the experience – the high that comes with dating.

Just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

The writer is a freshman in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

This column was updated March 4, 2013 at 9:01 a.m. to reflect the following:
An earlier version of this column had inadvertently been published.

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