I haven’t used a dating app in more than a year, but as a 24-year-old and former student, I’ve been around the Tinder block a few times.
I also have many friends that still log on for an old swipe or two when they feel inclined, though they’ve long dried up their options within their 5km limit.
Dating apps are great, and I know a lot of people who have met their other halves through them, but Facebook’s idea just seems a little late to the party.
There’s a reason that people’s interest in Tinder was waning before lockdown.
Millennials want human contact, even if people do believe we’re secret TikToking cyborgs.
We don’t just want to chat online or video date. We want to go out and get to know someone outside the four corners of our screens.
Before lockdown, some young people started moving away from dating apps due to “swipe fatigue”.
Tinder’s co-founder, Jonathan Badeen, has explained that the app’s algorithm is meant to feel like a lottery, inspired by behavioral reinforcement psychology.
So Tinder is what psychologists call a “variable ratio reward schedule”, in which participants are given a number of unpredictable responses before the one they want, aka a match.
The win makes you want more, so you keep on swiping, but it gets old after a while, especially when those wins aren’t coming.
Thefound that compulsive swiping makes people feel lonelier than before they logged in.
Pew Research also revealed earlier this year that 71% of dating app users expect people to lie on their profiles and about half expect scam profiles to pop up on their screens.
So, many of my friends stepped back from Tinder during the last year or so, opting to instead let fate take its course.
Fate, of course, brought Covid-19, and more spare time than we knew what to do with.
In one single day at the end of March, Tinder users swiped 3 billion times worldwide — a record for the app. Daily conversation use also rose by 12% between February and March in Britain.
So, swipers are reenergised, but is there room for Facebook to hop on the bandwagon?
The feature, accessible from your Home screen, will match you with other Facebook users who have similar interests based on pages you’ve liked, or with friends of friends if you wish.
Luckily, it won’t match you to your existing friends, so no worries about getting pinged to your second cousin down West.
The difference between the new feature and existing dating apps is that you don’t need to wait for someone to swipe your profile to let them know you’re interested, you can just pop a comment under their photo to let them know.
It’s a nice idea for those who don’t like to beat around the bush, but it might also turn some users off.
According to Pew Research, almost half of online daters have reported receiving unwanted explicit messages.
There’s a good chance this figure will be higher on an app where both users don’t need to show interest before one comments.
Facebook Dating also has a ‘virtual date’ feature where you can click into the chat with your match and start a video date.
We may have recoiled at this thought before, but with the number of Zoom dates currently going on right now, it’s actually a pretty good idea on Facebook’s behalf.
It will be interesting to see how the app does here, especially among the younger generations.
It seems that the only reason Gen Z click the blue square these days is to help their mother delete the status she accidentally created when trying to send Noreen the latest banana bread recipe.
The truth is, we’re over Facebook, with only 62% of U.S. 12–34 year-olds using the app, compared to 79% in 2017.
Maybe I’m being harsh, but it just seems to me to be another way for Facebook to reach further into our lives, providing writers even more material for a sequel of.
“We may use your activity in Dating to personalise your experience across Facebook Products,” Facebook fine-printed, “Including ads you may see.”
Now the Dating feature might work out grand for some, especially Noreen when she’s looking to share the banana bread, but for many of us, it’s probably going to go down as well as ‘Facebook stories’.
Do come back to us when the feature drops on Instragam for next year’s lockdown though.