Love in the Time of Tinder

We may well be living in a new era: Before Tinder (BT) and After Tinder (AT). It turns out modern love is no longer the same. It’s become more liquefied than the one even Bauman had foreseen. Internet now allows us to search for a partner using apps that give us access to a geo-localized pool of possibility. Thus the task of the bachelor or bachelorette is simplified. In the times before Smartphones she would have to go to a public space filled with rituals of seduction (like bars, nightclubs and public squares), spot a possible charming target within the crowd, and unhesitantly come up, talk, ask, and after a long set of minutes or hours, render a number or an invitation to keep the interaction going elsewhere.

Before Tinder, there was an entire nerve producing choreography: both parties ran the risk of being rejected and there was never the certainty of knowing if a particular stare, gesture or laugh meant interest on behalf of the other or was merely wishful thinking.

Things are apparently simpler now. A single-and-looking candidate may comfortably access an app from the comfort of his home, and go through a catalog of single women within a realistic geological distance. After looking through various possible profiles, he can merely click “Like” on the one he prefers and await for the girl to Like him back, confirming she too is interested. A mutual Like generates a Match: a virtual space in which both can start interacting textually. Simplicity in its maximum expression.

But what are the side effects of Tinder and other apps like it? Are relationships now re-configured thanks to this change produced by technology?

  1. The ambiguous initial ritual of reciprocal gestures is lost, or at least diminished. Interactions are more to the point, and therefore, there are less time-consuming and confusing practices. The fact that someone has Liked your Tinder profile (and you’ve Liked him back), shows at least a clear physical interest expressed by both parties. Therefore, Tinder transforms this aspect of the courtship terrain from ambiguous to clear. Seduction becomes faster due to the previous knowledge of physical attraction, or at least the attraction to the set of pictures put up by the candidate.
  2. In his book Liquid Love, Bauman speaks of how individuals are no longer forming relationships, but connections. The difference lies in the depth of each encounter; whereas in relationships there was a compromise towards the other person, and our own identity was directly linked to that of the other (breaking up meant also losing a part of our self), in relationships based on connectivity the linkage is lessened. This lack of compromise facilitates break-ups since one merely disconnects from the other, like an un-plugged stereo. If the possible interest Liked on Tinder doesn’t turn out to fulfill expectations, one may simply delete her or block her from his ownline world. In this sense, technology encourages the cultivation of pocketbook friendships and pocketbook relationships; the no-longer-useful or no-longer-attractive can be discarded like a piece of trash.
  3. Courtship opportunities are bigger than ever before thanks to these virtual social gathering platforms, and therefore, speed becomes a key element for everyone looking for a partner. There is no longer time for month-long seduction rituals. The immense catalogue of possibilities allows users to discard the slowest or most difficult candidates and prioritize the ones that are able to establish mutual interest fast. “Adios” to the times of slow courtship; if you blink you are forgotten, for there was some other candidate that was more able and quick.

These are some of the effects of the new, GPS determined hookup. However, it would be a mistake to generalize and conclude that technology has completely transformed courtship interactions. Within this macrostructure there are still users that adapt their own romantic values into the equation, expecting to find a soulmate with the former recipe of successive dating. Tinder and other virtual dating platforms rely on the usage that their members determine on an everyday basis. Thus, the development of technology still continues to depend on human mass behavior.

Leave a Reply