I got banned from tinder. Here’s why it’s one of the better things to happen to me this year.
Yeah, it’s pretty funny, however, it’s really reminded me of the hold that apps and services like this have over peoples’ lives. That’s what this is all about.
Firstly, I’d just like to get one thing straight:
Although I’m not entirely sure of my actions that lead to my ban from the popular dating platform, I can assure you that I was NOT sending dick pics, or otherwise playing dirty. This is the first thing that people ask me when I’m telling this story, and I’m sure it crossed your mind too.
With that out the way, I think we’re good to proceed.
Years ago there was an undeniable social ‘stigma’ associated with online dating. It was considered that if you had to turn to the internet in order to meet people, then there must be something wrong with your confidence, appearance or ‘game’.
However, now, this has done a complete 180. With more online platforms designed to introduce people and craft relationships coming out every month, It’s actually rare to come across a single individual that hasn’t at least tried online dating.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of it. The mindless convenience of a plethora of people my age, in my city, that are in the same boat, all just a swipe away.
I’m fortunate enough to say that I have friends who have met their significant other through such apps. They have gone on to lead incredibly happy and fulfilled relationships, some even leading to marriage.
I’m so happy for each and every one of these people. Believe me, the purpose of this post is not to discredit what they’ve got going on.
I believe the rise of online dating has a sinister ulterior motive. Let me explain why.
Firstly, let’s agree on one thing. Dating apps are businesses. Frankly speaking, they couldn’t care less whether or not you met the love of your life through their services.
With the online dating and matchmaking industry valued to be worth $2.5 BILLION in 2015, rising to an estimated $3.2 BILLION by 2020 in the US alone (source), it’s clear to see why they’re all fighting for a slice of the pie.
Let’s take a moment to tear down how their services work. For the purposes of this illustration, I’m looking at the tinder app.
Firstly, it’s clear tinder has two main monetisation channels: Advertising and paid subscriptions. These two channels combined are predicted to bring in $800 million in 2018, bringing the Match Groups total revenue to $1.72 billion (source).
These are big numbers, but how do they keep their customers coming back?
Well, by taking an objective view, it’s easy to see:
It’s addiction. Immediate gratification. It’s that constant drip of dopamine that tricks your reward system into believing you have achieved something at every match.
The design of the tinder app itself is heavily optimised to keep eyeballs on it for as long as possible. Bright colours? Check. Recognisable, catchy sound effects? Check.
Furthermore, have you noticed that 5 minutes after you close the app and put your phone down, you generally receive a push notification stating ‘Someone new likes you, swipe to find out who’?
These are all techniques used by the app designers to keep you coming back for more.
It’s an app that is designed to manipulate your dopamine reward systems. Capitalising on a basic human emotion of wanting to feel desired. Essentially fucking with your brain and emotions to keep your eyeballs on it for as long as possible so they can serve you ads.
The below is an extract from the dissertation of social psychologist Jeanette Purvis who earned her PhD in Psychology at the University of Hawaii. Her Dissertation was on ‘Sexual conflict on Tinder’:
“I’ve analyzed hundreds of surveys, interviews and internet posts from Tinder users describing their experiences with the app. My preliminary results suggest Tinder users do, in fact, have different outcomes than those who either use online dating websites or don’t use any dating technologies at all. In terms of psychological conditioning, Tinder’s interface is perfectly constructed to encourage this rapid swiping. Since users don’t know which swipe will bring the “reward” of a match, Tinder uses a variable ratio reward schedule, which means that potential matches will be randomly dispersed. It’s the same reward system used in slot machines, video games and even during animal experiments where researchers train pigeons to continuously peck at a light on the wall.”
Using an app like tinder is training your brain to expect an immediate reward, providing us a shortcut to something we desire. Are they nearby? Are they hot? Do they have a cute puppy in their picture? Swipe-match reward.
“Geez, Jack, you’re taking this a bit far aren’t you?”
Maybe. It could possibly just be down to the way I’ve worded it, but you can’t deny the facts.
What I do know is that social anxiety, conversational skills, and approach confidence are all dying skills.
The availability of dating, sex and gratification are at an all time high which has, I believe, desensitised us to what it really means to develop meaningful relationships.
How many of you would feel completely confident walking into a bar, nightclub or party and actively engaging in conversation with someone, building an acquaintanceship from the ground up?
Maybe not even building an acquantanceship, but just having a chat and getting to know someone you don’t know?
So even though it’s pretty funny that I was banned from tinder, I honestly believe I’ve been put at an advantage here.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was becoming complacent on the dating front. What’s happened here is a reminder that if you’re looking for a meaningful interaction, don’t go to a platform where everyone is there for an easy ride (lol literally).
Everything worth having (especially the things you really want) require real work to get and very often lie just outside of your comfort zone.
I want to finish with a challenge:
When was the last time you spoke to someone you don’t know? Even so much as just going up to someone and asking them the time, or where they bought their coat.
I think for the majority of us, it will be hard to remember.
The thing is, we’re all getting caught up in our own little bubble. Protecting ourselves from our insecurities by pretending we don’t care.
It’s so easy to get caught up in this cycle, when everything that we think we desire is so easily accessible whenever we want.
Because you’re here reading this, I’m challenging you to break out of your comfort zone today. You can’t back out of it, you can’t come up with an excuse.
Today I am challenging you to make someone’s day better.
It could be as simple as walking with a smile, and noticing how many people actually smile back. Wishing someone good morning, telling them you like their shoes/coat/puppy, whatever.
You may just be surprised by what happens.
Jack Purdie @ImJackPurdie lives in Southampton and is on a slow but steady mission to try and find a way to share some of the random, and sometimes interesting, thoughts that go through his head.
Working heavily in the event industry, but also behind a health and nutrition startup, Jack is known to always be up to something, with many projects bubbling away.