To Tinder or Not To Tinder?

When I was a study abroad student in England, one of my friend, Jenna, suggested me to use Tinder. I was not really familiar with the application at the beginning. I asked“Well isn’t that a hook-up app?” “Not necessarily” my friend replied, “It is more like a dating app, but you can meet really interesting people!”

So I took Jenna’s advice and downloaded the app. It turned out that it was fun. I thought it was sort of like a game, because if you do not like someone you swipe left and if you like someone you swipe right. And when you are matched with someone, the app asks, “Continue to play?”.

I went on a bunch of Tinder dates, some of them were really good and some of them were slightly boring, but I did not have any unpleasant event.

It also allowed me to meet very interesting and nice people, actually with some of them I became very good friends! So, my perception of Tinder was highly positive when I came back to Istanbul. However, when I arrived Istanbul I deleted my account and I spoke to Irmak (20) who is also in Koç University and she said “Well, it is only good to use it in abroad, not in Turkey!”. When I asked why she thinks in that way, she said that she thinks people in abroad are use to cyber dating and they are open minded about it whereas in Turkey people perceive it as a hook-up app only and thus it is not reliable.

These events pushed me to think of the usage of Tinder in Turkey and especially in Koç University. In this article, I would like to depict on is the Koç University students’ opinions and perceptions regarding tinder, and some experiences. Tinder app which was founded in USA in 2012, and the whole concept of cyber dating is not really new to them. Therefore, Tinder is well-identified and has its own place in whole online dating concept. On the other hand, in Turkey online dating is a different issue since people are not as familiar with it as in abroad. It is mostly being condescended by many people. Of course there are people opposed to this view as well.

The development of many dating application and sites divided people into two groups; the ones that are finding this type of a relationship shallow and “catastrophic” and the ones that think that is a normal thing and the necessity of the new communication age. To give a specific example, an article called ‘Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse”’ by Nancy Jo Sales which had been published in Vanity Fair is telling how shallow and disrespectful the point that relationships came to due to these online dating apps. Using a series of anecdotes of tinder users at bars and colleges, Nancy Jo Sales paints a picture of Tinder ruining the concept of so called traditional dating. She says that “dating apps are free-market economy come to sex.” Moreover, she claims that 30% of Tinder users are married based on the researches that had been made by GlobalWebIndex.

Of course, this article caused a lot of reactions on both sides, the ones that are supporting the argument and the ones that are opposed to this view. And the Tinder application made a response from its Twitter account.

Tinder wrote on its twitter page saying that according to their data only 1.7% of Tinder users are married, so it accused the journalist to use wrong information. But, what the GlobalWebIndex survey actually found was: “Globally, about half of the Tinder audience is single, whereas just over 45% are attached (34% saying they are married and another 11% being in a relationship) For instance, In the UK and US, it’s two-thirds of users who are single.

Tinder also claimed that Nancy Jo Sales cannot generalize everyone and cannot criticize people using it with that kind of an attitude. Tinder’s answers were: “Tinder users are on Tinder to meet people for all kinds of reasons. Sure, some of them — men and women — want to hook up. Just like in real life. And in the many years that existed before Tinder. Our data tells us that the vast majority of Tinder users are looking for meaningful connections. We have tons and tons of emails from people that have all kinds of amazing experiences on Tinder.” So, they are basically asserting that there is not such a big difference between online dating and so called traditional dating, it is just a change in the platforms. In fact, at one point, former Tinder CEO Sean Rad postulated that Tinder wasn’t so much a dating app as a “social discovery app.”

This debate really drew my attention since I think that there are parts that both sides are reasonable in their own context. Thus, I decided to make a research about tinder. There are some of interesting findings:

“Tinder identifies a usership of close to 50 million people, with the average user spending 90 minutes a day reviewing their matches. Another bizarre stat unearthed by the app’s marketing department comes as male users apparently swipe right to 47% of potential matches, while women swipe right to 15%.”

“The research also shows, unsurprisingly, that Tinder’s users are a relatively young crowd, with 38% aged between 16 and 24, and 45% between 25 and 34.”

“Hilary Duff confirms she has a profile on Tinder and has been out on one date with another member.”

Another interesting fact is that there is a considerable amount of people meeting on Tinder and then getting married.“While we don’t keep record of the total number of Tinder success stories,” a spokesperson from Tinder told Tech Insider, “we receive hundreds of stories each month from people who met on Tinder and are now engaged or married.” The company declined to provide any hard numbers.

After all those researches and different arguments that I have read, I investigated Koç University students’ thoughts, it is hard to generalize the view. But it surprised me to see many different perspectives. For instance, I discovered Tinder when I was an exchange student in London, everyone around me was using it and I thought that it might be a good way to meet some new people. And it actually helped me to meet really interesting and nice people. I can say that I had nice date experiences that Tinder allowed me to. So far, I did not have any unpleasant event caused by Tinder. So I do not feel judgmental or negative about it.

A friend of mine, on the other hand, Selen (21) said that she thinks Tinder is an application full of people that only want to hook-up. She also depicted that people in Koç University would perceive a girl using tinder as frivolous and lascivious. So she does not use tinder and she does not think of using tinder any time soon.

In contrast, other friend of mine, Ecem (22) she said that even though there is not always good people on tinder it is a good application since it enables to meet new people that you cannot normally meet. Also she said that she feels much more comfortable and relaxed when she goes on a date with a person that she met on tinder than with a person that she met through traditional ways. She added that people are much more easygoing in online platform and it is very beneficial to know each other before the meeting. However she added that she encountered some interesting experiences. For instance, she said that she used to like a guy in the university and she could not have the opportunity to meet him in person. But they matched on Tinder! And later on, she had the chance to get to know him and at the end she decided that she does not like him at all and he is nothing like she has imagined.

Another different point of view is the general judgmental approach to the all types of social media platforms. Selin (21), says that social media is so superficial and disingenuous. She believes that virtual reality that people are creating on those platforms are not sincere and fake. That is why she does not use Facebook, Twitter and Tinder.

Pınar (20), studying in Koç University, says that she is not against using Tinder, she is using it however she says that she does not have high expectations about it. For example, she does not think that she can have a long-term relationship with a person that she met on this platform. In addition, she thinks that it is not nice no swipe left and right just by looking at the pictures. She sees it as a very superficial platform which is based on the physical appearance only. She thinks that is the only repulsive aspect of Tinder. However, she keeps on using it. And Pınar said that she had seen the boyfriend of one of her friends and this caused a huge argument between her friend’s side. So she insists on the idea that Tinder is not really reliable.

A noteworthy thing that one of the Koç University student told me is that she uses Tinder only outside of Koç University. Ece (21), said that she arranges the location and she only makes herself visible to different locations than the campus area. When I asked her the reason, she told me that people are so judgmental against the girls using tinder in Koç University so she does not want anyone to know about that. This behavior grabbed my attention because I have never realized that there is such a big preconceived opinion about Tinder in Koç University. However, it depends on how much a person cares about the other people’s evaluations.

The comments vary when I ask these questions to guys, most of them are using Tinder and they claim that they do not really care about it. When I ask them what would they think of a girl using tinder, some of them said that they would not trust that girl easily. In contrast the others say that we cannot evaluate a person only by considering his/her tinder account. So they said that it would not really bother them. But when it comes to the expectations from Tinder, they are saying that they are not expecting any serious relationship with a person that they met on Tinder.

So I believe the perceptions and opinions regarding Tinder diverse in terms of the character of the user. However, Tinder usage is still some issue that in general people frown upon to. We see this reflection on Koç University students as well. While some of them are recoiling from being seen as frivolous or lascivious, some do not care about that at all.