Tinder: a little help that says a lot about our society

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The Tinder application will celebrate its 3rd anniversary next September. Founded by the American Sean Rad, the current president, along with three other friends, this application is still making a lot of noise. A geolocalised dating app, a pioneer in drag 2.0, Tinder is now an essential phenomenon for people under thirty, allowing them to meet people for a chat over a cup of coffee or for life.
 
PWith more than a billion contacts created thanks to its secret algorithm, used in 24 languages by millions of users worldwide, the success of Tinder is its extreme simplicity. You download the app on your smartphone, you register on your Facebook account, you define the gender of the contacts you are looking for, their age group and the geographical field of search. In the blink of an eye, Tinder's algorithm explores the data available on the social network and offers a portrait gallery. A large format and meaningful photo of the applicant, his or her first name and age. That's all you need to know. We can know a little bit more in the last few months because Tinder also displays the photos posted by the applicant on Instagram. A way to know more about his or her interests.
 
Playful and addictive
It is at this point that the playful and addictive side of Tinder takes on its full extent: with one swipe to the left, the suitor is eliminated (tragically irreversible because he will never be seen again). With a swipe to the right we indicate that we like him. If, by the purest chance in the algorithm, the same suitor has swiped on your portrait on the right, i.e. he thought he liked your profile, then bingo, that's what Tinder calls a "match". The two matching contacts can then enter into a chat relationship, try to get to know each other better and why not, initiate a physical "In Real Life" meeting. It's easy because geolocation simplifies things.
 

"Swipe right" or "swipe left" are expressions that have already become part of everyday language. The joyful and rewarding feeling that this gesture provides inspired the Danish director Rolf Glumsoe Nielsen to make this video:

 
This playful and instantaneous side of Tinder makes classic dating sites look old-fashioned with their endless questionnaires about your bio or interests. It would also give a big nerdise touch to traditional dating. For the site Quartzthe strength of Tinder lies in a sociological aspect: " For older Gen Ys, cultivating a digital profile was a social necessity. For the younger generation, today, swipes, likes and comments are starting to become more and more natural behaviors. Much more so, for example, than face-to-face flirting, which is now considered old-fashioned. Romanticism now comes through a screen"
A romance more akin to a shopping spree in a profile department store. No more getting ready and going out to find your soul mate. What an effort! You just have to stay at the bottom of your couch, in pyjamas and slippers, leafing through the catalogue of suitors, sorting and choosing the hero of an evening, an hour or more, if you're so inclined.
 
 
Then certainly, grumpy people point to the exclusively ephemeral and sexually-intended vocation of this application. This is the case of the American magazine Vanity Fair which concludes an investigation on the subject by stating that Tinder users would seek above all ephemeral relationships, "good sex" and that, by promoting adultery, this application " would destroy our relationship with the couple and the seduction... ». This polemic caused an outcry in social networks and Tinder was forced to retaliate on August 11th on Twitter by affirming that its application was far from this perverse and restrictive vision, and that its vocation was no more and no less than "to change the world".
 
 
A cultural phenomenon?
So, is Tinder really changing the world? Is it as the Time Magazine a real "cultural phenomenon" and the symptom of a profound change?
 
Sociologist Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini, interviewed by Atlanticoreminds us that " Social networks and dating sites are no more responsible for the changes in the relationship to seduction than the matrimonial ads of Le Chasseur Français were for the change in marriage norms. "Seeing in the media and information technologies, of which social networks are an avatar, the cause of the phenomena, would make us deny reality by hiding the reasons that led to the major evolutions and especially those of seduction models.
 
Several factors come into play in this evolution.
First of all, contemporary individualism which leads the individual to be the inventor of his own life. Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini explains : " Compared to the normative model that prevailed until the 1960s, in which institutions assigned the individual a place according to his or her background, the individual is becoming more autonomous. But this freedom has a counterpart: one has to invent everything for oneself, both professional and personal life, which brings with it a heavy responsibility and sometimes a great deal of suffering. Dating sites then serve as a crutch for the individual who seeks to invent his emotional life by providing opportunities and a vector for encounters. "
 
 
Another factor playing a considerable role in this mutation is the evolution of women. The sociologist states: " Some make their independence the watchword of their lives, both emotionally and professionally, so that they seek pleasant relationships without the latter being part of a restrictive cohabitation dynamic. The use of dating sites seems rational to them since they can pre-select profiles and clearly indicate what they expect from a relationship. "
 
A third factor to be taken into consideration, she said, was the lengthening of the duration of studies. « Compared to the pre-1960s, most men and women are studying for longer periods of time. There is a de facto difference in the age of marriage. And in the meantime, people are in more or less long-term relationships. These are associated with greater freedom in sexual relationships, which makes both men and women feel more comfortable with the idea of relationships for pleasure. These are not necessarily one-night stands, even if they exist, but non-binding relationships in which one does not project oneself into the long term. However, this does not exclude the possibility that in some cases these relationships may eventually lead to the foundation of a family. But at the beginning, neither partner had made such plans. For them, it was a pleasant but temporary relationship. "
 
The changing couple model
Tinder thus reveals a profound change: that of the classic model of the couple, which is the fusion of two individualities, driven by an ideal of romantic and monogamous love. This couple then forms a single entity, a single life project that takes the form of marriage and the construction over the duration of a family project. For Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini, "... the couple is a single entity, a single life project that takes the form of marriage and the construction of a family project.Although this model remains both an ideal and the norm by which socialization takes place, it seems less obvious than for past generations.
As a result, the norm of fusion love is changing to open up to a model that is more respectful of each person's identity and autonomy. This other model makes it possible to combine both autonomous personal trajectory and common trajectory. It integrates the idea of an agreement that one gives oneself, as a kind of contract resulting from successive adjustments. Within this framework, for some couples, polyamory is perfectly acceptable. "
 
 
Thus Tinder would reflect a new standard of openness to others, another path made of constant choices and adjustments. Tinder's model is one in which several people meet simultaneously and can, as affinities develop, choose to form ties, to learn to adjust the types of relationships possible. This model corresponds to a reality, since not only does the application meet an increasingly wide audience, but it is emulating it in other fields.
Indeed, the venerable magazine Forbes announced on August 6 an alliance with Tinder to "match" professionals. The "Forbes Under 30" application is currently limited to 2,000 hand-picked members, but the ambition is clearly expressed: "The Forbes Under 30 application will be available to a maximum of 2,000 members. Our application is a tool we have developed to better connect, empower and mobilize this community to help change the world."says Salah Zalamito, mobile product manager at Forbes. And Sean Rad, President of Tinder, added: "Tinder connects tens of millions of people every day and it's exciting to see our technology being used for business networking.». Business relationship, another form of the couple?
 
A symptomatic relationship to time
speed dating of which Tinder is an expression, is a phenomenon whose scope is constantly growing. It definitively reflects our relationship with time.
 
Indeed, today's individual is no longer Pascal's man, miserable or sublime, the one who was in between, between two infinite spaces: the past and the future. Contemporary man is no longer in between; he takes refuge, in a movement of fetal withdrawal, in the moment, the present moment, certainly to protect himself from the fear of the uncertainty of the future and its eternity. He withdraws into his infinitely small in order to escape the infinitely great that anguishes him.
 
This moment is extraordinarily contemporary. It is in line not only with the concerns but also with the lifestyles of most of our fellow human beings today: living life in the moment, moment after moment, taking the world in its succession of events, happy or dramatic moments, devouring time in instalments, as quickly as possible, as fully as possible. Today, we leap from one space to another, from one event to another, from one being to another. Surfing the networks, zapping reality with the pressure of a finger, our time gradually splits up and retracts in a discontinuous series of instants, of "real time".
 
Pursuing real time means reducing waiting times to zero. For technical as well as economic reasons, communication, intelligence and now relationship functionalities are more and more accessible in "real time". They sum up the time needed to implement them to an extremely efficient but artificial pseudo-time. The irreversible time of a "swipe" to the left or to the right. In this way, real time short-circuits the natural time of exchanges, it hits a cosmological and human reality. Indeed, human networks have always been built on human time; a circadian, biological time, a time of response, waiting, cries, sighs and heartbeats. A time of seasons, distances, travel and rest. Real time, today, is always on standby. It is an inflexible, mathematical time, clocked to the rhythm of the processors, at several hundred million cycles per second. Real time does not beat at our pace; it has put us out of time. With immediate, instantaneous time, we have reached the limit of time, which has as a consequence, as we can see with Tinder and his emulators, the refoundation of our relationship to the world, our relationship to our environment and our relationship to others.
 
Ugo Yaché
 
© Illustration Zohar Lazar - RollingStone
 

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