The sad truth has been confirmed: Tinder users are fibbers. They’re not necessarily lying, but according to a new study of user demographics, it appears a large chunk of them aren’t being entirely forthright with their intentions. Research by Global Web Index found that 42 percent of people using Tinder are already in relationships—and many of them are men.
First instinct is to call Tinder an app for cheaters, but perhaps it’s not all so devious. At one point, former Tinder CEO Sean Rad postulated that Tinder wasn’t so much a dating app as a “social discovery app.” As a non-single who’s used Tinder, I don’t think that’s how I’d describe it; it’s more like a social gaming app. I use Tinder exclusively to act as something of a wingwoman for my friends who are legitimately on Tinder. Two thumbs swiping through profiles are better than one, right?
I’ve also used it purely for creeping purposes: I want to see who else is on Tinder. I just swipe left into oblivion, cackling quietly (for reasons I cannot understand or justify) when I come across a friend’s ex or one of my own.
Every four months or so, I’ll download Tinder after being motivated by a group of Tindering single friends, or just stuck on a long bus ride home after a night out. And then, hours later, I’ll delete it. Rinse, wash, repeat.
I am not alone. I quizzed a handful of friends and Internet acquaintances on their own coupled Tinder use. Josh Barrie wrote about his alternative Tinder useearlier this year. He tells me he still uses Tinder “but mainly to alleviate boredom. It’s addictive, swiping. It really is.” His girlfriend uses it too, but rarely.
My former colleague at the Daily Dot, EJ Dickson, has written extensively on Tinder for Couples. She has a similar method as I do: “[I use it] Maybe, if I’m bored or waiting to meet a friend. Most of the time I’ll do it for a story but occasionally I’ll do it because I’m bored and it requires a lot less cerebral effort than, like, Trivia Crack or something. Most of the time, I’ll only message people if I know them or if they’re in media or if they have a cute pet or something,” she explains. “And I’ll just say ‘cute pet’ or ‘hey, I went to Hebrew school with you’ and delete it a few hours later and disappear back into the ether.”
For us, it’s all a game. Just another app to tap and swipe on. The Global Web Index stats initially conjure images of cheating bros wearing deep V-necks and prowling for some side action. But maybe it you should be picturing app-addicted couples, absentmindedly swiping on the subway ride home, or the taken friend out with a group, Tindering alongside his or her single friends, just to be in on the game. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s whatever. Except for single people who, you know, downloaded it in order to connect with another human being.
“I think in a lot of ways, Tinder is really overwhelming, and to know that you’re wasting your time with close to half the people you might encounter is pretty disheartening,” my friend Coral told me when I gave her the depressing 42 percent stat. “It’s essentially mocking people who don’t have what they have and are looking for it.” EJ admits she sometimes feels guilty about spurning an earnest Tinder user she matches with… though, all-too-often the person on the other end is being creepy or “sends me a joke about his dick.”
I’ve proxy-Tindered for Coral, and found it all very fun. And honestly, I’ve probably been far too cavalier with my right-swiping (sorry, Coral). But it doesn’t much matter because she, as have many, came to the conclusion that using Tinder to find a date is a losing battle. “I’ve never used Tinder for more than two weeks at a time,” she says. “And the second time around, I found it even more vacant.” She tells me she still has it downloaded on her phone, but she never logs in.
“Do you feel like it’s become a joke?” I finally ask Coral.
“Yeah, definitely,” she says. “Like, Jason Derulo’s album is a ‘person’ on Tinder, you know?”
I asked Josh Barrie if he thinks Tinder has become more of a game or joke than a purposeful dating app, since he’d originally written about using it for “honing cheesy pick-up lines.”
“Tinder can be a joke, of course it can… But I also think a fair few use it legitimately. I know a few couples who’ve got together via Tinder—and at least one that is in a really serious relationship as a result. That said, it’s abundantly clear that, aside from jokes, the app is a hook-up tool. If you’re not using it for lolz, chances are you’re only looking to hit up Nando’s before diving straight into an Uber to Beddington Central, Platform Sex.”
Maybe it’s because of this reputation that other paired-up friends tell me that once you’re one half of an item, it’s time to delete the app. “Continuing to use Tinder when you’re in a relationship is the digital equivalent of starting up a flirty conversation with a person on the subway or in a grocery store,” says technology editor Jeff Van Camp. “It’s not something you should really do if you’re serious about who you’re with.”
But who cares what all the happily taken people think about it, anyway? Sure, you can look at that 42 percent stat and listen to all these stories of “what else Tinder is for” from paired-up types, but that’s not who this app was originally made for. And it’s starting to seem like the it’s doing a huge disservice to them.
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