“You Are the Saltine of the Tinder World”
My Platonic Tinder Experience
The purpose of this experiment is to break an online social norm. For those of you who don’t know what Tinder is, it is a mobile app where you swipe right if you like someone, swipe left if you don’t.
For most people, it is used to match people who find each other attractive. If two people swipe right on each other, then it’s a match and you can now talk to them.
The social norm I chose to break, is using the app to meet new people in a strictly platonic way.
This app requires you to sign in through Facebook, that way it can access your pictures, friends, and interests. The app will tell you if you have any mutual friends or similar interests, which can help you start a conversation.
Here is my Tinder profile:
I had to limit my search to women because every time I swiped right on men I got a match. The homosexual community on social media is a whole other project. Ideally it would make sense to keep it open to guys, but it got to be too much.
In order to gather the most material, I always swiped right. I asked my roommate who uses Tinder for any advice, and we created a joke acronym for how to use the app. “Practice your ABS (Always Be Swiping)”. If you’re waiting in line somewhere, swipe. If I’m on my phone in class, swipe. I kept my tinder for a week and got almost 300 matches.
For every conversation, I would start with simple things like where they go to school, things they liked, friendly things like that. I continued the conversation until I found an easy way to bring up my girlfriend. For example, a girl I talked to lived in McShain at Saint Joseph’s University (where I go to school) and I mentioned how my girlfriend also lived there when we were freshmen.
There is one instance where I immediately mentioned that I had a girlfriend, and I realized that saying that defeated the premise of my experiment. In order to break the norm, I had to be oblivious to the idea of hooking up with anyone from this app.
“Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.” — Tinder description.
My results were better than anything I could’ve expected. I will arrange them in order of their intensity. I blurred all names and images of the people I talked to. I am the blue conversation.
This girl didn’t seem to mind too much.
This question about my girlfriend was her only response. After that she didn’t seem to care. I later told her about my experiment and she thought it was a great idea.
This is the one time I immediately mentioned I had a girlfriend, which I later decided wasn’t the way to conduct this experiment.
Taught Me A Lesson
She directly told me the purpose of the app.
Later, when I explained the purpose of the project, she said “I don’t want to be part of some ‘experiment’” and blocked me.
Discomfort and Disbelief
This was without a doubt the best conversation I had. This girl was about 60 miles away (in radius) and offered to meet me halfway. I couldn’t have captured the essence of tinder in such a better way than I did with this conversation.
The norm of this app is to try to hook up with people you match with. Not only is that the norm, but that is how the app functions. Swipe right if you think the person is attractive, swipe left if you think otherwise. There isn’t enough information on someone’s profile to look at them in a platonic way.
Sure, someone could write a long bio of themselves, but it’s very unlikely that someone would read it. When you first see a girl’s profile, the only thing that shows up is her age, name, and how close she is to you. This further proves the purpose of the app as a means of sexual encounters rather than platonic friendships.
The reason I bring this up is because it explains the reactions of the people who I talked to. Several people, including the person I showed above, told me what they believed Tinder is used for. One could argue that the person is explaining how she uses the app, but I knew this disposition going into the experiment.
This experiment has shown me importance of social norms online, and it opened my eyes to the disruption that breaking norms can cause. In my experiment, I only harmed my own self image by breaking these norms, and since it was only an experiment I had the ability to explain myself. I know the norms but as an experiment I chose to break them. If I was a company, like Applebees, and broke a social norm without knowing it, the severity of the situation could be disastrous. So in closing, this experiment showed me the importance of being aware in an online world where social norms are scrutinized by any number of people.