I’ve been putting this off for almost a month now. It’s something that I’ve been working on since the beginning of January, and have honestly been embarrassed at the fact that I’ve taken this social experiment into consideration.
Social media is fascinating to me. With one click of a mouse, I can connect to someone halfway across the world, and it’s intimidatingly amazing. As someone who loves networking and connecting, the allure and appeal of exploring new social media outlets is ever-present and ever-curious.
In January, right before I moved back to Hampton Roads from Georgia, I discovered this app called Tinder. I downloaded it with one main intention: to observe interaction and how this social media network affects how we communicate and connect with each other.
If you don’t know the layout of the app, each time you launch the app, you’re presented with a series of profiles pertaining to your profile preferences (age, gender, proximity) and you have the ability to ‘like’ or ‘pass’ on a certain person, based on his/her photos and basic about me profile. If you ‘like’ someone’s profile, your profile will be in the mix of that person’s potential likes or passes, and if that person responds with a ‘like,’ then you become ‘matched’ with him/her and have the ability to communicate with him/her and usher in the ability to meet up and get to know each other.
In addition to matching with someone, you can then share ‘moments’ with your matches: photos of what you’re doing, extra headshots that didn’t make it in your profile, etc.
Fairly simple concept right? There’s not much else to it.
While the concept is simple, there is truly nothing simple about this application.
What the app does, subconsciously, is seemingly reprogam a user’s thought process on how he/she sees relationships/hook-ups/flings/etc., and almost trivializes the “chase.” Why’s that?
Bottom line, you’re using appearances to determine whether or not someone is worth getting to know. The first thing you see is someone’s picture, which he/she has hand-selected to catch your attention and draw you to further inspect his/her profile. It’s a surface level approach to meeting people. Even worse, it’s a way to find a casual hook-up with a stranger; no commitment, no strings attached, just one night and no more.
Over the course of the 8 months that I on-and-off conducted this experiment and used the app, I noticed a progression that happened: I went from casually using the app to pass the time, to using it frequently and thinking that I could meet a girl worthwhile and with whom I wanted to spend lots of time.
Don’t get me wrong, I connected with some great people. They just weren’t right though.
At the beginning of July, consequently as I began the process of re-enrolling in residential undergrad, something clicked and I realized this notion that had arisen within me. So, as a result, I put an end to the use of the app and began to gather data.
Tinder was created specifically for hooking up and superficially-charged relationships. But we’re designed to desire something deeper than a carefully selected image and a witty bio; we want depth, substance, and things that will stand the test of time once looks fade. We want friendship and companionship, not just a physical relationship.
I encourage you to stay away from Tinder. If you’re on Tinder already, then it isn’t too late to delete your profile and get rid of the app. As I learned from my experience, it’s not a healthy way of meeting people.
What can you do to meet people instead of using Tinder?
Go to church.
Yeah it seems pretty simple, going to a place where you already frequent in order to meet people. But, there are people who are sitting right behind you on Sunday morning to whom you’ve probably never said, “Good morning.” And, to take it a step further, you can even introduce yourself in that moment. Weird, right?
This is especially relevant for you singles out there who are asking the question of, “How do I meet a girl/guy who loves Jesus and has the same beliefs as me?” The answer? Just go to church and be observant. Join a singles small group. Volunteer in a place where singles your age regularly serve.
Talk to the people around you at work/school/the gym/etc.
I’ve started writing for TheOdysseyOnline.com, a community of college student writers at my school who are a part of a bigger community of college students who get to voice their thoughts on a national platform. So, I’ve been writing way more in the college student vein, encouraging students to meet the people around them, which is actually something I’ve hit on in my article, entitled “10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your College Experience.”
But this idea goes way beyond just 18-22 year olds. The places you frequent most, like your workplace, school, the gym, and so on and so forth, usually contain people who have similar interests/values/thoughts/etc. as you. I encourage students to just turn around and say hi to their classmates in order to meet people. But, for those of you in the workforce, I can guarantee there are people in your department, at your building, or in your company that you don’t know.
If you do know them all, you probably have a place where you go often, like the gym, the library, the coffee shop, etc., where you don’t know everyone.
Do everything you can to avoid online relationship-building.
I have to use a disclaimer here: I have good friends who have successfully used dating sites like Match.com and E-Harmony to find their significant others, and it’s worked wonderfully for them. But, I’m not a huge fan of them, or any medium other than face-to-face interaction where the majority of the relationship-building occurs. Social media, technology, and applications are meant to be a supplement and assistance to what’s occurring in real life.
If all we do is use social media to maintain and sustain a relationship of any level, we won’t know how to function around the people who we’ve met through that avenue when we get the chance to meet them face-to-face.
While I’m not all too proud that I used Tinder, I can say that I’ve learned one major insight: relationships, ones that last and have substance, are not formed through swiping left or right, but are formed through personal, face-to-face interaction.