Seeking Human Connection Can Easily Become a Game
By: Catherine Gilliam
At one point or another, you have probably had Tinder on your phone. If you’re really brave, you might have even branched out to other apps, like Bumble, OkCupid, or Hinge, and if you’re queer, you might have dabbled in Taimi, Her, or Grindr.
Dating websites used to have questionnaires and introductory videos and, while Bumble, OkCupid, and Hinge are in keeping with the spirit of that, Tinder outpaces them without doing the same.
Tinder has an audience of 7.86 million, while Bumble reaches 5.03 million, and OkCupid and Hinge lag behind with 1.79 and 1.21 respectively (statista.com).
Bumble has a verification process for pictures, profile prompts, an about me section, a work and education section, and a basic info section (which includes gender, location, height, exercise, star sign, education level, smoking, pets, looking for, kids, religion, politics and voter status). OkCupid has a basic section (technically two; it encompasses age and location, then gender, orientation, relationship, height, and body type), a details section (again technically two; it encompasses things like ethnicity, diet, smoking, religion, sign, and politics, to name a few, and then pronouns), an ideal person section, an about me section, an aspirations section, a talent section, a needs section, a hobbies section, a moments section, a secrets section, a dating section, and a whole bunch of questions you could answer and compare with potential matches.
Hinge has a feature where you can pair prompts with photos, an answers section, a virtues section (which includes things like work, school, education, and politics), a vitals section (which includes things like name, gender, and age), and a vices section (which includes things like drinking).
Meanwhile, Tinder has your name, your age, your location, an about me section, a job title section, a company section, and a school section. It is by far the least detailed, while also being the most successful.
That’s part of what makes Tinder so difficult to navigate: it is oversaturated and purposely unspecific. It is the app that most resembles a phone game, which is how it retains an audience.
Its gift is the consumer’s curse.
For example, in 2015, the ratio of men and women on tinder was two to one. Swiping on Tinder has become a kind of reward and this has been reflected in the word choices of male respondents when describing the app, with examples of this being the usage of words like “play” and “game” (mic.com). To be fair, though, if you have ever been on the app, you’d be hard pressed to argue with them.
Hinge, Bumble, and OkCupid all have intricate set ups that don’t allow you to opt out… they all make you fill out information before allowing you to start swiping. Tinder does not allow you to opt out of set up either, but the process of doing so is much simpler.
You don’t even have to have a bio. While dating apps, by design, do better when you stay single, Tinder’s competitors at least pretend to encourage some kind of connection.
Bumble and OkCupid, as well, both have ways to specify what you’re looking for. Bumble has entirely different apps for dating and for friends (as well as for business), while OkCupid has multiple options you can check, stating whether you’re looking for friends, hookups, short-term dating, long-term dating, or some of the above, or all of the above. While, admittedly, this doesn’t always mean that everyone’s honest with what they’re looking for, it’s at least a start. It’s certainly a better start than the empty bio or vague reference to casual sex you’ll find on Tinder.