Dating applications, such as Grindr and Tinder, have inundated college campuses across the country. Students are a target audience for the application, advertised with the intent to give young adults the power to “meet new and interesting people.” Although it may be captivating to swipe through profiles, go on dates and seek one-night-stands, mobile dating has actually created a toxic environment at GW that is apt to make students feel isolation and disappointment.
When I began utilizing Grindr and Tinder at the beginning of my freshman year, I felt all of these emotions. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was wasting time and money, traveling by Lyft to meet strangers with personalities that clashed with my own. But I kept using these applications even though I knew they were having a negative impact on my life. Many might wonder why I did that. The answer is simple. Transitioning to college was incredibly difficult for me. I felt lonely and lost at GW, so it was easy to let men take advantage of me through Tinder and Grindr. But now I know that I don’t deserve to be objectified and treated terribly, and I am better than Tinder and Grindr. Other students are above the influence of these dating apps, too.
For starters, Tinder and Grindr users are susceptible to deception – especially at GW. Students on campus often perpetuate a competitive culture in almost everything they do, comparing themselves to others with their clothing, internship experiences and academics. This can push people down a slippery slope and follow students to their dating profiles, where they swipe through people and start to feel that their bio is not up to par. This can lead them to engage in deception and exaggeration to make themselves more appealing. This is incredibly pertinent on Grindr and Tinder at GW, where users can easily fabricate bios and edit images to appear as though that they are something that they are not. Subsequently, this makes these apps disingenuous and can lead to disappointment in both romantic and sexual encounters.
In addition to its deceptive framing, dating applications also objectify men and women. On Grindr, it is not uncommon to find phrases such as “twinks only,” “tall masc guys to the front,” “looking” or “visiting hmu.” On Tinder, it is normal to merely swipe right on a person based on their picture, rather than reading their bio. Along with its social ramifications, these two different behaviors can cause students to question their bodies, interests and values.
Along with objectification, dating applications can also be time-consuming and isolating. After hours wasted swiping, going on failed dates and experiencing uncomfortable hookups, I now think back on how I could have spent all that time with my friends, instead of hanging out with an online stranger. I could not help but feel isolated in my own thoughts back then, but I regret it now.
However, the impact of these apps hasn’t been all negative. These applications have had a positive impact on the way many talk about sexuality and romance. Through mobile dating, sexual encounters are no longer limited to meet-ups at clubs and fraternity parties for people of all sexualities. It is difficult to distinguish who is and is not gay on campus, so it can be comforting to chat and meet up with others who share the same background. In this way, uncomfortable flirtations are also minimized through Tinder and Grindr. Nonetheless, with its deceptive framework, users will never be able to understand one another entirely until they meet each other in person.
Even considering the pros, this culture is harmful and prevents college students from truly being able to connect with one another naturally. Living on a city campus with limited school spirit, two campuses for undergraduates and no formal dining hall, it is easy to feel isolated. Mobile dating, contrary to its purpose, will only cause students to feel worse about themselves. Although it may be “fun” to play on Tinder and Grindr, these dating applications threaten our mental sanity and the social fabric of our society. It is not impossible to meet moral people online. However, it is better to let nature run its course when it comes to finding a dating-relationship and friends, as the pay-off will be euphoric and genuine in the future.