We’re swiping like crazy on Tinder and Grindr. But are we looking for love or merely sex? Or perhaps just ego boosts and amusement? Elisabeth Timmermans (28, author of Love in the Time of Tinder) and Shangwei Wu (27) have researched the benefits and pitfalls of dating apps. A conversation about status, monogamy, stigmas and — still — love.
How does one end up exploring love in the time of Tinder?
Elisabeth: “As a communication researcher, you’re studying the impact of media on society, among other things. When I was in America in 2014, I noticed that everyone was on Tinder, and I knew then that the subject was ripe for a dissertation. However, my supervisor was a little concerned: how could I be sure that Tinder would still be around a year later, let alone for the four years it would take for the dissertation. He had a point: platforms like MySpace and Pokémon Go were very popular for a short while, and were abandoned just as easily. But I was willing to take the risk, because even if Tinder ceased to exist, similar apps would soon step in to fill the gap left by its demise.”
Tinder was launched in 2012, but when did online dating first begin?
Shangwei: “Mobile dating began in 2009 with Grindr, the first dating app for gay men to appear in the App Store. Jack’d, Blued, Tinder and the others were inspired by Grindr.”
Elisabeth: “But of course the internet had made online dating possible even before that, in the nineties. The problem back then was that internet connections were still so slow that it could take hours or even days for pictures to load so you could see what the other person looked like. Which was why anyone dating online at the time was considered a bit weird, because you had to know a lot about computers to do so. That is in addition to the stigma that already came with the practice, i.e. if you’re dating online, you’re probably a bit of a loser in real life. Tinder dismantled those associations by making online dating seem like a game.”