It's not just a hookup app.
For the most part, everyone has heard of Tinder. But for those who haven't, or aren't familiar with the way it functions, Tinder is a dating app — mostly for college-aged students — that connects you with people based on location. Tinder uses your approximate location to only show you persons within a certain radius.
Essentially, a person makes an account including their age, multiple pictures, and a short bio. The app then displays this profile, with only your first name, to other people of your preferred gender on the app. If they are interested in you, they swipe right. If not, they swipe left. You do the same. The most interesting and perhaps genius thing about Tinder is that no one you "swipe right" on will be notified that you "liked" them unless they also "swipe right" on you (with the exception of the Super Like, which no one should ever use... it's just creepy). This system somewhat eliminates super awkward one-sided attraction and allows its users to filter who is able to message them.
Basically, the rest is self-explanatory. If you "match" with someone, you can message that person, talk to them, set up a date, etc.
So enough about the technical aspects of Tinder. Let's get down to business and talk about the social reputation of Tinder. First, Tinder was really the first app of its kind. It was released in 2012, two years before Bumble, another dating app, and five years before Hinge. Marketed as a dating app, it quickly became seen as a "hookup" app. Rather than walking up to a stranger at a bar and trying to hit it off, you could flirt with strangers from the comfort of your own home. And then, if things went well, you could hook up with strangers.
The issue with this is, of course, that now the app has this stigma... people on Tinder are only looking to "hook up."
I have to be honest, about five months ago, I thought the same exact thing. My roommate had a Tinder, and I remember talking to her and asking her why she was on the app if she wasn't going to hook up with any of the guys that messaged her. Her response was simply that it served as a confidence booster when she needed it.
Flash-forward two months, I made my own Tinder.
Now, while I was only on Tinder for a week, I realized that the stigma associated with it is pretty inaccurate. Most of the guys I came across on Tinder were clear about their intentions in their bios. One of my favorites was, "I'm not looking for anything serious. Just a wife or something." It was also super easy to filter who was able to reach out to me on the app.
When I told my parents I had made a Tinder, my dad told me I should delete it. Why? Because it's a creepy hookup app. I could be killed. Stalked. Kidnapped. Of course, before having a Tinder myself, I may have actually believed that. But in reality, Tinder gives you so much control over the information you share, who can see your profile, who can message you, and even who comes up on your feed. There was never a moment that I felt unsafe.
Finally, SO MANY people meet on Tinder and have nice, serious, successful relationships. Two of my co-workers met their significant others on Tinder. In fact, I met my boyfriend on Tinder. And I remember telling people, "Oh, I'm going on a date with a guy I met on Tinder," and seeing them laugh or make assumptions about what I meant when I said "date." I was even nervous to tell my parents that I'd met him on a dating app. But in the end, I'm incredibly happy with my relationship, and I don't want to feel bad every time I tell someone we met on Tinder.
It's the 21st century. Social media is a part of... well, everything. So why shouldn't it be a normal part of dating? Is Tinder a "hookup" app? Sure. It can be. But it is also full of real people looking for real connections, and I think it's time we acknowledge that.