In the mid-1960s, a bunch of college students in New York came up with a digital dating system that promised to help people find true love. They distributed computerised questionnaires and matched high school kids by using an algorithm, the scientific validity of which is contested till date. Fast forward to fifty decades and people are being matched through their photos by smartphone apps, the biggest player of them being Tinder. The app’s co-founder Sean Rad raises a point in response to the trend – “When was the last time you walked into a bar and someone said, ‘Excuse me, can you fill out this form and we’ll match you up with people here?'” After all, it didn’t seem easy to sterilise the game of love through a psychometric process. Tinder made its debut in 2012 in California and has today penetrated into 196 countries, with a user base estimated at 50 million. Official reports state that the average number of swipes (right means you ‘like’ and left means you don’t) per second on the app is 16,000 while approximately 300 people are also matched every second. The largest share of Tinder users, constituting 45% of the belt, comes from the age group of 25-34 years, followed by 16-24 years at 38%. While women may spend almost 8.5 minutes swiping left and right, men devote 7.2 minutes to the same task. However, according to a research on dating and romantic relationships conducted by Jessica Carbino at UCLA, men are three times as likely to swipe ‘like’ than women. Rad credits this staggering engagement to the removal of “all social and psychological barriers with meeting someone” with the help of technology. Tinder’s young team also deems India as a budding market, where the user base is “growing by over 1% per day.” What is astonishing is that 42 per cent of global Tinder users aren’t even single. This was found out in a study conducted by Global Web Index based on interviews with a panel of more than 170,000 app users. While the results of this study may be arguable, it reflects an aspect that has made Tinder more than what it was meant to be – a platform for ‘social gaming’ than just dating.  This is reinforced by the fact that on average, users log into the app almost 11 times a day. Tinder has therefore advanced to a form of entertainment where dating is much more than a means to an end, it is an end in itself. Even if the pretext is to hook-up or find a soul mate, the real pleasure is only derived in the Tindering process, which the co-founders term as ‘social discovery’. Of course, different people use Tinder for different purposes. But the model itself is somewhat reflective of a consumerist society where we swipe because products (potential partners) are available in bulk; we swipe because we can set parameters (age, location) for discovering love like we’re shopping for it on an e-commerce portal; we swipe because there’s instant gratification involved with every match. But while Tinder may intelligently expand our search for a mate, it may also be materialistic sexualisation of technology with nomophobia, Facebook and Candy Crush Saga packed into one.

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