RED Hearts: Tinder Finds Love Nearby

tinerRED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today’s RED Hearts post is from RED author Charlotte Steinway, 24, in NYC who breaks down Tinder, the dating app of the moment:

Only a few months ago, it wa sSnapchat that all my friends were abuzz about. Now, the app embraced by that most fickle college and post-graduate world is Tinder. But where Snapchat was presumably made for digital use among real-world people who already know each other, Tinder turns it around, taking digital connections into the real world. The dating world, that is.

Unlike dating sites OKCupid and Plenty of Fish, Tinder requires little to no effort to become a member. You’re in -- as long as you’ve got a Facebook account and are willing to let complete strangers view your mutual friends, interests and selection of curated profile pictures. Sign me up, I thought, because here I don’t have to write up an extremely-witty-yet-totally-accessible profile and can find a couple of flattering (i.e. Instagram-filtered) pictures.

Sure. I’ll let you know how that worked out for me in a moment. Till then, here’s how Tinder works: You use a left or right swipe to indicate whether a person’s photo, name, age and mutual friend or interest count is to your liking. So at heart, the app is just as rating-and-dating simple -- and at that, nearly as superficial -- as the now-archaic site Hot or Not. But what sets it apart is its geographic relevance (the app uses GPS to scan your location and match you with nearby users) and its chat function, which serves the sole purpose of launching a conversation between two users who have “liked” each other.

As a former sociology major, I found the user trends most fascinating. As a person potentially doing the liking and being liked, I found the results at turns scintillating, discouraging and hilarious.

Faced with the number of guys whose profile photos feature either Avicii or a recently caught fish (seriously, I got one about every eight swipes) to those who initiate conversation with, “So how many push ups can you do?” I’ve started to reconsider my enthusiasm for my immediate dating pool. But then every so often, you’ll get matched with say, someone who went to college with your roommate, works in your office or randomly knows your best friend. And all of a sudden, you’re reminded that you may just “meet” someone the very same way my own parents met 25 years ago -- through mutual friends.

RED Hearts guest poster Charlotte Steinway is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.