In the past year, the app Tinder has revolutionised online dating.
As little as three or four years ago, online dating still carried a rather heavy stigma for many. People still suggested it was only a thing weirdos did … and yet when you look at our lives, so much of them are spent online, why shouldn’t love be another thing we find on line.
In 2014, the majority of our relationships are at least maintained on line. I can think of hundreds of acquaintances I only ever communicate with over Facebook – people I would otherwise have lost touch with if it weren’t for social media. So why shouldn’t you make new acquaintances online? And if your casting a particularly fussy net for a life partner, surely the wider the range of that net, the better?
As with most dating initiatives, women have always been far more receptive to online dating than men. We’re more happy to confess stuff to our friends, and openly talk about our lives … and so the online dating surge spread among women far more quickly than it did amongst men. Great if you’re running a lesbian site … not so great if you’re trying to set up heterosexual partners.
Free sites definitely helped to erode the stigma. I was at a Christmas party last year where, of the 12 couple present, an astonishing 8 had met on Plenty of Fish – one of the largest and first completely free sites. If online dating had a stigma, paying to do so carried an even bigger one.
And then came Tinder. Not only was it free, but it was effortless.
You could sign up in a matter of minutes – simply by linking to Facebook. It was an app for your phone. There were no long drawn-out dating profiles to write. And with every match, you were given self validation.
Suddenly a dating app had come on to the market which men were not only signing up to, they were also talking about it!
Tinder has brought online dating to the forefront of our social consciousness. For a year you couldn’t get on a train carriage, and not help but notice at least one person repeatedly swiping left on their phone.
Everyone was on it – even (sadly) those people with boyfriends, girlfriends, wives or husbands. The ‘hot or not?’ aspect of the app, combined with the silent rejection aspect (if you like someone, but they don’t like you back, you simply never match), had everyone jumping on the bandwagon.
From a Tinder user’s perspective, there has been a clear rise and a fall of the app.
This time last summer, I was using it to meet intrepid, intelligent, eligible men, who genuinely wanted dates and girlfriends. It was a novelty – news of the app was still spreading, and so the majority of people on it seemed to be urbane, educated and pretty successful. Boyfriend material.
One year on, and every man and his tiger is unfortunately on the app.
Last year, almost every man I matched with would talk to me. These days, I’m lucky if 2 or 3 out of every 10 pipe up.
At least one in every 100 profile pictures is mildly pornographic. One in every 500 is completely disgusting. I’ve seen some of the most hilarious dick shots in my life on Tinder. As well as pictures from peoples’ weddings, photos with their girlfriends, and some of the oddest chosen snapshots imaginable.
And life for guys on the app isn’t plain sailing either. With reports of computer scams, and prostitutes using the app to advertise, Tinder has definitely lost its spark, and become a socially accepted sex app.
So who is next to take Tinder’s crown? And what is next for online dating and apps?
This year sees the launch of numerous contenders – and in my role as a judge at the UK Dating Awards, I’m likely to be trying out a number of them. Over the coming weeks I’ll try out all the newest apps to appear on the dating scene.
But first, let me tell you about Happn – a French app which has got quite a bit of press recently (and which makes me think of the Ellie Goulding song every time I talk about it!) My journalist friend Matt Chappell first introduced me to the app about three weeks ago, but I wanted to give it a proper go before telling you guys about it.
First off, I LOVE the concept. The idea behind the app is that as you walk down the street, your phone recognises any other phones around you with the app on, so it reports when you cross paths with another singleton. You’re sent a short profile – similar to a Tinder profile, but also including work details, and details of where you crossed paths, and how many times you have crossed paths.
You can then Like the person (or not) – just like Tinder this is anonymous. If you both like each other, the facility becomes available to Chat. You can also send a Charm, to show someone you like them – in the hope this will make you chat to them. Apparently everyone starts with 5 free charms, and then you can get new Charms by either buying them, or doing things like introducing friends to the app.
All sounds great … Until you come to the logistics.
For the last three weeks, whenever I’ve gone to check the app (normally just before bed, when I think to remember), I’ve suddenly ‘crossed paths’ with every single man sleeping in a 500m radius of my flat! I kid you not … And to make matters worse, ‘where we crossed paths’ is either my road, or theirs – essentially broadcasting my address to every singleton in the area.
I’ve done a LOT of trekking around London these past few weeks, but unfortunately the app doesn’t seem to work unless you have it open (anyone with an iPhone knows the effect this will have on your battery), and I think it must switch itself off after a while, because of the 200 or so men who have popped up as options on the app, around 180 have matched with me only when I’m in bed!
Obviously the app is in its early stages, so fingers crossed these teething problems will be ironed out – as I love the concept.
I’ll keep using it (and trying to remember to turn it on when I’m out of the house), and let you know how I get on … but for now, it seems the Tinder crown is safe for another day!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx