The world of office politics is a complicated one. Success in any profession, regardless of the industry, is contingent upon maintaining a good working relationship with your colleagues. Surely, if you’re spending 40 hours a week in the company of the same people, once and a while a potential romance is bound to crop up. Here is where things can get truly convoluted, but as students many of us are (thankfully) years away from having to negotiate this sort of business/pleasure balance.
Realistically speaking, university has got to be one of the easiest places to meet potential partners. You are, after all, constantly surrounded by people of a similar age and intellect. Thus it seems strange that Tinder, a smartphone dating app, is proving to be wildly popular among students. Admittedly, Tinder’s simplistic interface, which matches users based solely upon their proximity to one another, is slightly addictive. If you see another user in your selected viewing radius (anywhere between 1 and 100 miles) whose profile interests you, you can simply ‘swipe right’, indicating your interest. If that user reciprocates, then you are ‘matched’ and are then able to communicate via instant message.
Tinder has been criticised as a ‘hook-up app’, designed to show the horny and/or lonely who around them also feels the same way. And the profiles, which are hardly complex, do little to discredit this. They consist of a handful of pictures and an optional section for providing a tagline or personal information. Conceptually speaking, it seems that the app would appeal far more to cubicle-confined office workers whose professions constrict their dating pools. Yet, students appear to be downloading Tinder left and right. Why?
Perhaps there is a hint of voyeuristic irony for the young Tinder user: you’re curious about who else is out there looking at you. Getting a new ‘match’ is a shameless ego boost. Someone that you find attractive also thinks you’re cute; it’s a novel concept that removes much of the awkwardness from in-person flirting. Expressions of disinterest are also a lot easier when there isn’t a real person directly attached to an unanswered message. Talking to a Tinder match is infinitely easier than striking up a conversation with that cute and aloof guy in your seminar. But what kind of effect is the app going to have on campus hook-up and dating culture? Hopefully it will be a negligible one.
In the end, nothing will replace the thrill of locking eyes with someone you see across the dance-floor. Apps like Tinder, which hide users beyond the guise of online anonymity, can’t replicate instant, in-person chemistry. At best, they might make for an enjoyable blind date or embolden someone shy. At worst, you’ll be left wondering if you were cyber-chatting-up the girl ahead of you in the post-room queue. It’s best to bear in mind that, on a university campus, the world of Tinder comes with its own slew of potentially awkward run-ins. Swipe with care.