It is an uneventful Friday night. It is that time of the month that you cannot risk going out or you will be living on Indomie until your salary checks in. Your boredom takes you to Tinder. After a few unsuccessful swipes, you read a bio that immediately sets you off.
“Not here for hookups? Blah blah blah looking for a real man blah blah blah. I have been with a handful of females with the same profiles. You next?” the man’s profile reads.
You immediately, swipe left.
The first dating app I ever tried was Tinder. Fortunately, I was recently banned. I do not recall ever insulting or being improper with anyone but my friends think that men or the app bots thought I was a catfish, even though I had already verified my profile.
My relationship with the app however was not healthy. I would download the app, find someone great, go on a date, find out they were only looking for something casual and then I would delete both my account and the app.
Calvin Njenga, 25, also found himself in the same dilemma at the onset of the Covid pandemic. His curiosity and boredom has led him to try his luck on Tinder on an on-and-off basis.
“I was 23 at the time and was looking for a place to interact with other people. I found that some people were very direct about what they wanted. One of the ladies I had matched with immediately asked where I lived and told me that she would like to come and visit me. That was an instant red flag,” he said.
Tinder is unfortunately linked to promoting the hookup culture as many gossip columns and blogs have intimated. Notable news sources like CNN and Vanity Fair have also flagged the issue, reporting that many people visited the platforms for casual liaisons. A Vanity Fair’s article titled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’ in 2015, pointed out to the era of instant gratification promoted by dating Apps like Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge.
A Financial Times report states that Tinder downloads dropped five percent in 2021, while competitors like Bumble maintained growth in the same area. Tinder CEO Gary Swidler said that “a lot of older people” use the app and that attracting younger users would be key to rebounding. However, Gen Z already treat Tiktok, Instagram and Twitter as dating apps by sliding into a potential mate’s DM.
Apart from the hookup culture issue, Tinder’s fast upcoming competitor, Bumble, is literally a case of bad karma.
Bumble CEO and Founder Whitney Herd was one of the co-founders of Tinder who left abruptly in 2014. She then filed a lawsuit accusing one of her fellow co-founders Justin Mateen of sexual harassment, and subjecting her to sexist, racist, and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails, and text messages.
Tinder and Whitney settled the lawsuit and Justin was fired. Bumble was launched three months later as a less aggressive, female-driven dating app.
What makes Bumble unique is that it gives men a break from making first contact. Only women are allowed to initiate conversations with matches in a period of 24 hours.
The app basically has the same “swipe right if you like” concept as Tinder’s.
There are also fun ways of starting conversations such as sending a GIF or playing a question game where the lady chooses a question to be answered by her and the man she has matched with. Both answers will be revealed when her match sends in his answer.
Sociologist Phanice Amukhale states that dating apps can be a safe space for people with personality types that do not enjoy going out often.
“It is an easier way for them to build confidence and connect with others without feeling shy,” she says.
Esther Macharia, 25, finds dating apps very trouble-free as an introvert instead of having to go out and meet people the traditional way.
“I first joined dating apps at the age of 20, never having dated. I was curious and heard that it works for some people so I thought I should try it out,” Esther says.
Esther has experimented with many of the apps including Bumble, Badoo, Tagged, OkCupid, Christian Dating and Afro Introductions but has never opted to sign up to Tinder.
“I was discouraged very early on not to join Tinder. Some of my female friends who were into dating apps told me that Tinder was an online brothel for soliciting easy, casual sex. Since I was looking for something more serious then I just didn’t see the reason to join. I was put off and it has remained that way to date,” she explains.
Bryson Mwamburi, 26, feels he has met better quality mates on Bumble than Tinder. He no longer uses Tinder.
“There is a lot of catfishing on Tinder as most profiles are not verified,” he says.
Sav Tanui, 25, says she moved away from Tinder to new dating apps as they have less scammers because of the verification methods provided, making the experience more enjoyable.
She also felt that Tinder users were very superficial.
“You cannot be ‘ugly’ and be on Tinder. I once went to meet a match and after he saw me, he drove off. I was not dolled up as usual because I was just going out for drinks in my neighbourhood,” Tanui says.
Calvin, on the other hand, had a terrifying experience that brought his dating app adventure with Tinder to a close.
“I matched with a lady online, chatted with her for a bit and decided to meet her in the city. When I got there, she told me to go to a bus stop where matatus for Githurai were being boarded. She told me to board one. I was hesitant but I went all the way. I was terrified since I did not know where I was.”
“When I met her, she looked nothing like her photos. I faked an emergency and took a taxi home.”
Esther rates Badoo as the best dating app she has used. She found that it was easy to use, gave a variety of options with unlimited swipes depending on the filters she placed, even without paying the subscription, a friendly interface plus plenty of good looking people.
The surprising feedback I got from Esther is that she made a few friends who she still talks to from the dating apps, a trend that Gen Z seems to follow.
According to a Global World Index report, over 90 million people around the world use location-based dating apps and nearly two thirds of them are men. This creates a problem for many women who are overwhelmed by the number of options they have. Competition in online dating is fierce for men as lucky in-person chance encounters with dreamy partners are rarer than ever.
Sociologist Phanice warns that several of the men using dating apps are married men seeking easy opportunities for infidelity.
“The age between 18 to 26 is a crucial phase in a person’s life. It’s the period to learn how the world works but one can be easily lured into traps by older men,” she says.
Sav reveals that this is the reason why she is not using Tinder at the moment because half of the people she has met on the app are married.
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