Looking back over the past 10 years, it’s weird to examine just how much the dating and romance scenes have changed due to our crazy connectivity. Even if you don’t know what it is, I can say with pretty fair certainty that you’ve heard the name Tinder floating around on social media, and if you haven’t heard it online, you’ve heard it through your friends. That’s because it’s taking the hookup culture (and serious romance!) by storm, such that it’s practically the head of that driving force that is online dating. Curious to learn more? Then keep reading, because you’re in the right place.
Not too long ago, you’d get odd looks from people if you told them that you were into online dating. Most of those looks would be highly skeptical, full of obvious doubt that your online endeavors were worth anything at all. Fast forward to 2016, and that picture has changed considerably.
Now, people use social media and messaging apps to find dates and seek romance almost as if they’ve been doing it for their entire lives. Hell, if they’re young enough, some of them have! But far and away the most popular app that tech-savvy people are using is Tinder. There’s a reason that it’s so popular, and it certainly isn’t a fad. The app has hookup culture cornered, and with a brief examination of Tinder’s features and functions, you’ll see why.
Before we delve into our preview of the zeitgeist that is Tinder, let me ask you this: how many people in the US are packing smartphones in their pocket? Half of them? Most of them? Regardless of the exact number, we can be pretty sure that a vast majority of the population has access to a smartphone. The younger a person is, the more likely they are to have one. This trend is how Tinder (and thousands of other apps) are capitalizing in order to be successful.
See, Tinder only works on smartphones. Technically. Appamatix has written before about a few ways that you can bring Tinder to your desktop or laptop computer, but the app only runs natively on iOS and Android. If you want to be on Tinder, then smartphone access is one of those things that you’ll have to have.
The Skinny on Tinder
Apart from its home on smartphones, there’s one other major aspect of Tinder that has escalated its rise to power: the app’s ties to Facebook.
See, most matchmaking services that are currently competing with Tinder are standalone. You sign up, you hand over some cash, you make a profile, and you get matched with people based on the information that each of you provided to the service. Rather than have you build a profile specifically for Tinder, it instead requires you to have a Facebook account before you’ll be able to use it. No exceptions, no workarounds, no ifs, and’s, or buts. The Facebook profile is the cornerstone of your Tinder experience, and while some people have gone so far as to make extra Facebook profiles in order to throw off this basic Tinder requirement, that hugely negates the points and benefits of Tinder in the first place.
So, you have your Facebook profile. You used it to set up your Tinder account. What next?
The app itself is, at its heart, a localized matchmaking effort. Tinder will look at other prospective singles in your area, and show you their profiles in a sort of “active slideshow.” Swipe right if you’re interested, swipe left if you’re not, and want that particular profile to hit the road.
It sounds simple in practice, but the actual algorithms behind Tinder’s matchmaking practices are known only to the company’s developers; they haven’t shared, and nobody has been able to figure out precisely how they work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that anyone who proclaims to know why you see certain profiles ahead of others will always have a margin of error in their argument.
Tinder certainly works, but nobody knows quite how it does.
Is Tinder Free?
Technically, yes, Tinder is free! As long as you have a Facebook profile, you’re good to go. Download the app on your iOS or Android-enabled smartphone, link your profile, specify a few others things (gender interests, the distance you’re willing to travel for connections, etc.) and you’ll be able to start browsing through matched singles in the area that you’ve specified. No other signup is required.
There is currently a paid version of Tinder that you can buy into, called Tinder Plus. It comes with a couple of rather large features that are unavailable in the free version of the app, as well as fewer restrictions on the basic functions that you’re performing in Tinder. You’ll be able to “swipe right” (approve) on profiles an unlimited amount, whereas the free version limits the number of times that you can do it. Tinder Plus also gives you access to the Rewind feature, which lets you cancel your most recent left-swipe (disapprove) in the case that you’ve accidental tossed a good-looking profile by accident.
Lastly, Tinder Plus gives you the Passport feature. This lets you change your location to anywhere in the world, ideally so that you can browse prospective singles ahead of traveling to a particular location. We’ll talk about “Tinder tourism” in a moment, but it suffices to say that if you’re frequently on the go and want to look for a romantic outing at your intended destination, Passport will let you do it.
Here’s the part of Tinder Plus that’s bound to make you cringe, however. If you’re under thirty, it’s only $9.99 per month. If you’re over thirty, that fee jumps all the way up to $19.99. Yowza. While Tinder’s argument has been that young people can’t afford the monthly subscription as easily as people over that particular age, the whole thing gives off the unavoidable feeling that Tinder wants to keep its user base young, and that anyone over thirty is becoming “too old” to use the app. However, your interpretation of this unique pay setup is up to you to decide!
Frequently Asked Tinder Questions
Even though Tinder has been around for quite a while, there are quite a few people that don’t understand how it works or understand its appeal. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be useful to know why 10 million daily users are logging into this matchmaking app in the hope of finding romance, however lasting or brief they prefer it to be.
- Is Tinder for everyone? The short answer is “yes,” but it’s quite clear through testimony and the behavioral trends of young people that if you fit certain ideals in terms of appearance, you’re going to have more luck on Tinder. A lot of young, active, attractive people are using the app, and though that shouldn’t by any means dissuade you, it should inform you on the types of profiles and personalities that you’re going to see most often.
- Do people get scammed on Tinder? All of the time, but people get scammed on practically any social media or online matchmaking service. The only real solution to this dilemma is to not let yourself be scammed. Pay attention to the people that send you messages, and more importantly, pay attention to the way those messages are written. Don’t follow external links that lead you away from Tinder. Don’t give anyone money, and don’t give anyone your personal information.
- Is Tinder only for hookups? Yes and no, as odd as that answer is. Tinder carries something of a “hookup reputation” with its name, and many people assume that Tinder users are just looking for quick flings and one-night stands. This isn’t necessarily false, but it’s a far cry from accurate when you’re trying to describe the app’s entire userbase. Look at it like this: if you want a long-term relationship, specify this in your Tinder description. As is always the case with dating, be clear about what you’re looking for, and you’ll have a hell of a lot better chance of finding it.
- Can I use Tinder without Facebook? No, you cannot. Hundreds of websites will promise workarounds, “hacks,” and fixes that will let you circumvent this basic rule of using Tinder, but they’re all bunk. The only method that some people use (that, if I’m honest, is a waste of your time, also) is making a new Facebook profile for their Tinder profile. There aren’t any statistics to back this up, but many have done this and reported far less activity overall on Tinder as a result of it. Instead of trying to find ways to avoid using Facebook, focus instead on putting yourself out there in the best way that you can.
That wraps it up on our “quick ‘n dirty” introduction to Tinder! It’s far and away the most popular matchmaking service that you’re going to find online, so if you were curious about what exactly Tinder is, then we hope to have cleared that up for you. If you have any leftover questions about Tinder, feel free to post them in the comments below, and we’ll get to them as we can!