Imagine this: you are walking down the street and pass someone you would really like to talk to, but you are too shy to initiate. What if you could let them know you are interested without the fear of rejection?
That is the idea behind Tinder, a dating app that launched last fall in the iTunes store. Users can find local matches and choose who they’re interested in speaking with, all without the typical nervousness associated with meeting strangers.
“(Tinder) connects you with people who are nearby and you get to choose if you like them or not,” said Justin Mateen, co-founder of Tinder. “If a mutual liking takes place, then it connects you with them and you can chat with them through the app.”
Mateen explains that he and co-founder Sean Rad developed the app after noticing how difficult it can sometimes be to meet new people, especially online.
“(Rad) and I just realized that dating was broken,” Mateen said. “Online dating was broken. We wanted to create an app that emulates the way the real world works in terms of social discovery and meeting new people.”
Word of Mouth
After a few months of waiting for word of mouth to spread, the app has increased in popularity since January. According to Mateen, the number of users has spread nationally across every demographic, but a majority of that growth has been among people ages 18 to 25.
While Tinder is not quite reaching household name status at Virginia Tech yet, there is a wide base of students who are using the app.
Jennifer Cohen, a sophomore HNFE major, downloaded the app about a month ago after hearing good things about it from her roommate. Like many users, she enjoyed the idea of meeting new people nearby without the fear of fake profiles that often pop up on traditional dating websites.
“It links to your Facebook, but your (Tinder) page doesn’t show people your profile,” Cohen said. “All you would see would be my picture, my first name, my year and then whatever sentence I write about myself. Then the part about Facebook tells how many mutual friends and mutual likes you have.”
Within the app, users can set a radius to decide how far away their matches can be. From there, they can scroll through profiles to see if anyone looks interesting. If they like what they see, they “like” the person. If not, they move on to the next.
However, “liking” people on Tinder is different from real life in that they don’t automatically receive a notification that someone wants to get to know them better. Instead, the app depends on a mutual “like” before setting up a match.
“You don’t know that they liked you unless you like each other,” Cohen said. “If I like someone and they don’t like me back, it doesn’t even tell them. So, it’s not embarrassing for me if someone doesn’t like me back because they don’t even know.”
For many people, knowing that they cannot be outright rejected is one of the biggest appeals of the app.
“We are doing our best to take feelings of fear and rejection out of the equation as it pertains to not only dating, but to social discovery in general,” Mateen said.