Dating Apps – Technology Versus Biology
When the smartphone was released, it was inevitable that some form of online dating would find its way onto the small screens of iPhones and then Android devices. Sure enough, along came Grindr, an app for gay men to find each other. Then came Tinder, something mainly for the heterosexual crowd. I won’t comment on Grindr because that market isn’t what I write about. Tinder, however, has certainly had an impact on the heterosexual “dating” scene. Dating is in quotations because Tinder has a reputation has an app used for primarily for sexual liaisons, not establishing relationships beyond such encounters between consenting adults. A note about terms, an “app” refers to software that runs on smart phones or smart devices such as tablets. Tinder is not the traditional online dating website such as Match or OKCupid.
Tinder was first greeted very cautiously by the pundits. As general location was part of the user’s profile, safety (for the women, of course) was the initial concern. Because the specific user location was not revealed in Tinder, that concern was appropriately brushed aside and users flocked to the app. It also helped that it was free at the time. Within a relatively short time, users were swiping left and swiping right on the profiles with photos originating from the users’ Facebook accounts. But all was not joyous in dateville. Tinder’s user interface function brought out common human behaviors that aren’t harmonious with actually meeting people to form lasting relationships.
The basic and serious problems can be categorized thusly:
- Users who are not serious about meeting… at all. Tinder devolved into a bar game or a validation fix. In this category are users who swiped (right or left, it doesn’t matter for these users) strictly for the purposes of entertainment or confirmation of his or her (mostly her) desirability.
- Too many choices too soon. This is the catalog mentality that all online dating suffers from. Swiping left (rejection!) is far too easy because there’s always another profile displayed.
- Rudeness and crudeness mostly from guys sending messages to girls once a mutual match occurs. This is fallout from Tinder’s reputation as a sexual hook-up app. Guys simply assume that the girl he matches with wants a sexual encounter and soon.
The first two problems are probably as the result of girls using Tinder. Girls love the attention and the availability of so many options leads to a constant left-swipe rejection. The last problem is all about the men. Men are more biologically assertive sexually so it shows regarding the messages they send on Tinder. All three issues with Tinder originate primarily from the DNA-based behavior of human beings as a species. The app did a fine job of capitalizing on that.
But those complaints and the backlash became stronger and stronger. Tinder’s strengths very soon highlighted the weakness as described above. As the dating app is business, fees were eventually established. This also served to curb some of the entertainment and validation seeking users. But the remaining two problems couldn’t be sufficiently addressed with something as simple as imposing a fee on serious Tinderizers.
Enter the dames to create some competition for Tinder. First up, Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB). This app was designed to address at least two of the serious Tinder issues. By working with a user’s existing social network circle of friends (Facebook again), the app only serves up matches within that circle of online friends. Also, matches are only presented one at a time and only for 24 hours. This means that the user viewing the match has time to evaluate but with a deadline. Perhaps this results in a high mutual match rate. I don’t know if the match is ever presented again but that person could be tracked down via Facebook if necessary.
This solution to Tinder’s problems is actually quite elegant. The catalog mentality is stifled and by mining into a user’s circle of friends, overtly sexual messages are also limited if the CMB user is reasonably prudent with her social media friend choices. A guy sending a dick pic or an overtly sexual message is going to think twice if the woman of his digital (double entendre, right there) affection is connected to his friends. The “he’s a creep” story gets started that way.
CMB won’t be a big online dating app. It will attract the smaller number of users who have patience and who are serious about their dating efforts. It won’t make it big, like Tinder, because of incredibly short attention spans, the need for instant gratification, and choice addiction. Should, mirabile dictu, CMB become huge, some of my faith in humanity will be restored.
Next up to take on Tinder’s problems is Bumble. It’s quite recent to the dating app market. Also, it’s founder and creator actually got her start over at Tinder. There was a messy breakup and the Bumble founder went on to do her own thing which was, of course, Bumble. The young woman wanted to create a “respectful” online dating app experience. So she implemented a couple of key features to make the experience better for women.
First and most importantly, once a mutual “like” has been established, the woman must send a message within 24 hours or the match vanishes, poof! Forever! If the guy is really patient, he can extend only one match for another 24 hours. That’s some pressure, right there. Like with CMB, this might serve to nudge women along to actually reach out first, something that is mostly lacking on Tinder where the assertive guys reach out first with often sexual forwardness. There is some very interesting and perceptive commentary on Bumble from the Red Pill guys over at Reddit.
CMB and Bumble have something in common regarding their user profiles. Unlike Tinder (created by men), the other two apps have fields for education, occupation, and employer. Those apps were created by women. The young woman behind Bumble actually described that app as being more feminist. I’ll write a filthy limerick for the first commenter who spots and describes the cognitive dissonance there.
Where all three dating apps succumb to human nature is that only a relatively small percentage of men are perceived as physically attractive to women. Given that CMB only presents one match at a time, there can’t be a quick dismissal. The two individuals must carefully consider if a message is going to be sent. But Tinder and Bumble allow for a quick transition to another profile. Worse, Bumble forces the woman to make a further decision if she is actually going to send a message to the fellow with whom they have a mutual match. It’s an extra level of filtering and that’s not necessarily a good thing considering that girls tend to look for a reason to reject a guy.
This extra scrutiny required by both CMB and Bumble makes the education, occupation, and employer information more important. The guy might not be the most attractive physical specimen but those three pieces of information could sway a girl into creating a match or sending a message. This is hypergamy at work. “Well, he’s losing his hair but look at his thick and wavy occupation! His bulging college degree! He drives such a great employer!” You get the idea without me mashing up too many more awkward analogies.
To be fair and honest, I have not used any of these online dating apps. I have researched and read the news reports and user reviews. Tinder and CMB are available for both the iPhone and Android phones. Bumble is currently available on the iPhone. Please note that there is currently another Android app called Bumble but this is not the online dating app.
Technology in the dating sphere is responding to market forces. Some of those forces are based on our biology. This is why there are photos in the online dating profiles. We respond to a person’s looks, for better and worse. Some of those market forces are based on social expectations, hence Bumble’s feature that mandates a woman sends the first message. But in the end, biology always wins.
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