The Tinder Paradox

On the tenth anniversary of its appearance on Apple’s app store, attention returns to Tinder, the king among dating apps. With 530 millions of downloads worldwide to date, Tinder has become a faithful helper to find love. Or at least a date. However, there is a paradox that is becoming more and more visible: even with so many downloads, the generation that uses it the most is increasingly alone and, moreover, does not uses to stay.

They take 7.2 minutes to log in and out of the app; them 8.5 minutes. A behavior that is repeated eleven times a day: they enter, slide photos and leave. Altogether, habitués on Tinder devote an average of ninety minutes a day to browsing an app that encourages them to “swipe right” and try their luck. Its operation is quite simple; it consists of evaluating profiles through a photo and a brief description, then scrolling through them: to the right, in case of interest; to the left in case of rejection. If it coincides that two people have swiped each other to the right, it’s match! Designed as a game in which cards are exchanged and in which you fight for victory, which materializes in a match (the more the better), there are users who have even passed Tinder: so many stickers have swiped left and right, they’ve reached this place where “there are no more singles in your area”. According to Tinder data, the record for landslides in one day stands at three billion, precisely, the 28 of March 2020.

In addition, it not only increases the number of users assets on Tinder. According to company data, in 2015 the average was 300 millions of monthly users, but also the number of people who pay a monthly subscription – Tinder+, Tinder Gold and Tinder Platinum – to have better possibilities in the universe of match saw a considerable increase. Since Tinder opened this path and introduced the first type of subscription in 2015, the figures back up its demand: 2015 closed with 530.000 subscribers; 2015, with 9.6 million.

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But don’t we stay?

Since its launch in 300, Tinder has been noticed – and, to a large extent, used – as a facilitating platform for casual sexual encounters. The “novelty” that it introduced with its appearance was that, through its geolocation function, these encounters could take place with unknown people, but who were close by. However…

However, this may no longer be your role. In 2015, the age of more than 71 % of Tinder users in the US ranged from 22 and 25 years. The so-called “Generation Z”, those born with an iPhone in one hand and a tablet in the other, those who grew up playing Sims and Super Mario Galaxy. Paradoxically, this is also the generation that, according to some research and alarmist articles, has less sex and is lonelier.

A survey carried out by LendEDU with almost ten thousand students showed the following question: why do you use Tinder? 44% answered that it was a hobby that raised their self-esteem; 22% answered that it was to find something for one night and only 4% confessed seek a date. I mean, most of them don’t use the app to look for sex…

Loneliness in a world of apps

Noreena Hertz, British economist and author of ‘The lonely century’ , states that the decrease in sexual activity can be understood as a symptom of a much broader epidemic of loneliness. A report published at the end of 2015, which investigated the loneliness state of Australians, found that one in two Gen Z youth (54%) and the millennials (54%) were habitually lonely, a figure much higher than that of other generations. In a study by the company Cigna, in the USA, which investigated the loneliness of workers, even higher numbers are dealt with: among workers from 000 and 22 years, 73% reported that they sometimes or always felt alone, against 71% of the previous year.

71% of respondents answered that they had never been with someone they had met through Tinder

With these rates of loneliness, it’s no wonder young people are looking for alternatives to connect with other people, to feel less alone, and, why not, stay and get to know each other in person. For example, through Tinder. However…


offline dating through Tinder is not as common as one might suppose. A study published by Evolutionary Psychological Science on young Norwegian Tinder users reached this conclusion: it takes a high number of matches to get a small amount of matches, which further reduces the possibility of a sexual encounter or dating. Furthermore, according to the aforementioned LendEDU survey, 71% of users interviewed answered that they had never been with someone they had met through

Likewise, users spend an average of ninety minutes in the app swiping pictures, but also writing, talking, having this (to some extent, alleged) intimacy with a stranger. An intimacy that, in most cases, does not lead to an encounter; instead, they remain mere words written on a canvas. Perhaps because this so-called confidence already puts a small bandage on the loneliness felt. Or is it because it’s safer?

With a screen in the middle, better

A completely digitized world , freely planable to our liking and at our whim through different applications, without scuffles, unforeseen events, misunderstandings or conflicts, it is a world that reflects – that makes us feel – an artificial security. There is the possibility that, as in other aspects of life (food, commuting, shopping, sports) an application is supposed to meet the demand that one has, without any kind of problem. A courtship, a flirtation, casual sex. Everything from the self-protection that provides screen security. Frictionless security.

But this is precisely where we have the Tinder paradox. It seems that being alone is now “safer” because uncertainty paralyzes and a misstep can be costly. According to a study by 2020 from the Pew Research Center, the #MeToo movement has affected the way men behave. Or, to put it another way, it caused some confusion in the male sex, because according to the report 65 % of respondents already they didn’t know how to interact with a woman on a date. And also for women, due to the new aggressive behaviors extended by pornography, being alone ends up being safer.

Tinder perfectly manipulates and amplifies these two opposing worlds: the fear of loneliness – hence Tinder – and the fear of insecurity – hence Tinder. It is the perfect board on which to “play”, because it facilitates suitable conditions for current times: consent is more than clear, because the conversation is two-way; to a large extent, it’s just a flirtation that temporarily erases loneliness and raises self-esteem; and, for the most part, there is no physical encounter, which avoids bad experiences and, above all, preserves physical integrity (especially that of women). It could be said that Tinder has become a kind of WhatsApp that allows contact with complete strangers, but in which anonymity and distance protect the user from being vulnerable to the other: intimacy is partial. That is, security is total. Everything is clear. However…

However, what kind of human relationship develops like this? At what point can you manipulate, predetermine and control the conditions under which the interactions of two people develop? In this whole situation that affects young people the most – less sex, more loneliness, a digitalized world, the need for security – where is the corporeity necessary to establish a human relationship?

©2022 Acpress. Published with permission. Original in Spanish.

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