Relationships and social media nowadays tend to go hand-in-hand. I know numerous couples that met through social media or more specifically, a dating app. My partner and I decided to conduct a small experiment using the popular dating app Tinder. This blog will be discussing the details of this humorous yet informative experiment while observing the association between social media and relationships.
“This app is rigged." --my partner
Downloading a dating app is not exactly rocket science, but I am little rusty in the dating area since I have been in a relationship for 5+ years and am now engaged. The one occasion I decided to do so, I discovered just how easy it is to become connected to someone almost instantly. My partner and I decided to conduct a small experiment using the popular app Tinder. At first, it started as a silly game to see who could attract more admirers, but I soon began to realize a vast difference in the number of admirers I had versus him. Could it be that more men use the app Tinder than women? Or maybe it was a simple coincidence that I had more hits. Regardless of the reason, this was just one of my many observations in my short time using the Tinder app.
If you are unfamiliar with the app Tinder like I was, let me rewind a bit. The actual definition of Tinder is “a location-based social search mobile app that facilitates communication between mutually interested users, allowing matched users to chat” (Google). A quick introduction to Tinder can be explained in three easy steps: download, create your profile, and start swiping! For my partner and I, we decided to limit our number of pictures to upload to three, (and what a choice this was) because we did not want to reveal too much about ourselves but just enough to peak the interest of other users.
You never realize how terrible your writing is until you need to write a paragraph about yourself in the description section. You do not want to seem too eager or non-interesting so it’s best to keep it brief and stay open-minded. Some users included movie quotes, while others managed to incorporate more erotic requests (no I’m not kidding). Whatever you choose to include, speaks volumes about the type of person you are, and exactly who you are looking to find. I did not include one. Despite my lack of a personal paragraph, the matches began to pour in from locals and users from across the state. It was in this moment I realized how fast you are connected to a stranger. Before this app I knew my small circle of friends and classmates, afterward, I am now connected with tons of people from all walks of life simply looking to make a connection.
The main issue I saw with this app is that it was incredibly visual. The first thing presented to you is the user’s picture. You must click on a small icon to access more information about the person. So we are swiping left or right, solely based on the person’s looks (seems a bit shallow if you ask me). The app then generates users in the area to present to you. To decide if you are interested or not you simply swipe left for “not interested” and right for “interested”, and if you’re really interested in a person you swipe up for a “super like”.
For those about to say “well the first thing we see is the person, even if we are not using an app and see someone in real life” (what does the term “real life” mean anyway, we aren’t living in a video game). I have actually heard classmates make this statement, and although it is a valid point, having an app designed to appeal to a person’s true interests should not be mostly based on physical appearance. Why do you ask? Because there is the case of “catfishing”.
“This girl said she wants a guy with a nice tongue…at least she’s honest” –my partner
It is hard to imagine, that 30 years ago people actually had to talk to each other. What a concept. With the help of social media, we have the convenience and luxury of being able to communicate over distances. A text message is sent within a matter of seconds across the nation. Having apps like Tinder opens a world of opportunity for dating, but does it also take away the intimacy factor of creating a relationship face-to-face? One could argue, that since we now have the option of not having to communicate face-to-face, it creates a space where people can be more comfortable with themselves and get to know the other person before actually meeting them. This reminds me of a quote by the authors Makau and Marty that speak of why we need these interactions and relationships to feel diverse within our lives, “the diversity of life is sustained through a network of relationships, where each affects the other in ever-widening circles. Survival and well-being depend on this interconnectedness and its built-in reciprocities” (Makau & Marty, 2013, p. 23). As human beings, we thrive on making connections and staying connected to feel fulfilled.
A couple can choose how they want their relationship to be expressed to the public, or can they? I recently read an article entitled How Social Media Affects Our Relationships and discovered, “couples too, struggle to navigate what is appropriate to share when it concerns their partner and each person has different boundaries around what, how, and to whom information about them is shared. Though a profile may be set to private, the likelihood of personal information reaching a wider audience is high” (Siegel, 2015). Now, with the increasing growth of technology, romantic partners can express their relationship online for essentially everyone they know to see. Social networking sites are used to try to recreate face-to-face communication and to maintain interpersonal relationships by allowing individuals to share and post things with each other (Farrugia, 2013).
That being said, is it necessarily healthy to disclose so much information about yourself on these dating sites? For my partner and I, we created fake names in the case we came across someone we knew on this site. Although Tinder asks you to describe yourself, I did not think this was necessarily enough information to cause an information overload, but enough to simply peak the interest of others enough to make a connection. This brings to mind the ratio of expression versus privacy because according to the article “when using social networking sites, the issue of privacy is a relevant concern. This dialect discusses how much is shared on social media and how much is left as a mystery from social media users. Sharing too much on social media can take away from the intimacy of the relationship between two people” (Wilkerson, 2017).
Care: Overthinking and Obsession
“Social media has created jealous behavior over illusions. Sadly some are envious of things, relationships, and lifestyles that don’t even exist.” -anonymous
Social media has always been a gateway to more information, quicker. This is one of the reasons it can be overwhelming because on a relationship level for couples, this may be too much information for couples to handle causing information overload or obsession. We need a sense of social support in our lives, and “social support” refers to “the emotionally sustaining qualities of relationships (e.g., a sense that one is loved, cared for, and listened to). Hundreds of studies establish that social support benefits mental and physical health” (Cohen 2004; Uchino 2004). That being said, it is obvious why partners become too obsessed over meaningless information. My partner and I discovered this within the first 10 minutes of using Tinder because we immediately wanted to know what a person said if we were private messaged, etc. It is simply too easy to become consumed with social networking boundaries. “The way social media causes depression anxiety is from the stress produced from constantly trying to project an unrealistic and unachievable perception of perfection within your social network” (Amedie, 2015). Becoming obsessed or caring too much may not be healthy for yourself because you are constantly trying to be the perfect couple, but is that achievable?
“If you feel the need to snoop on your partner’s online behavior then there’s a bigger conversation that you need to have about your lack of trust in the relationship or your feelings of internal security in general”, this quote speaks volumes to our society's current urge to seek out information from our partners social media accounts (Marin, 2017). Although Tinder is not necessarily the same as Facebook or Instagram, there is still a mode of communication used within the app, which is what makes people all the more curious to see exactly the types of people their partners are attracting and their intentions.
Taking a different approach, according to Couples, the Internet, and Social Media, “couples who have been together for 10 years or less show different patterns of technology usage in the context of their relationship compared with those who have been together for a longer period of time” (Duggan & Lenhart, 2014). This may be the case because younger couples have become more accustomed to integrating technology into their relationships anyways. Individually, I am certain each partner uses social media sites for communications a fair amount, therefore it may be easier incorporate within a relationship, and easier to create trust. Personally, I believe older generations realized the amount of information they are able to hide from their partner through social media sites or apps, and as a result, created more infidelity within the relationship.
Overall, social media apps such as Tinder have opened spectacular doors for couples and will continue to be a great tool for networking. My partner and I have now experienced the dating app realm of social media, and are less judgemental because it is no less of a commitment than a relationship that began in person. Regardless of how you start the relationship, the important part to focus on is how to make it consistent! Seeing the multiple sides of using apps such as Tinder, have truly opened my eyes to how communication has become almost effortless. Happy swiping!
Amedie, Jacob. (2015).The impact of social media on society. Accessed November 2, 2017. https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=...
Duggan, L., & Lenhart, A. (2014). Couples, the Internet, and Social Media. Accessed November 16, 2017. http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/11/couples-the-internet-and-social-me...
Definition (2017). Urban Dictionary. Catfishing. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=catfish
Definition of Tinder (2017). Google. Tinder. Accessed November 29, 2017.
Makau, J. & Marty, D. (2013). Dialogue and deliberation. Long Grove, IL: Waveland.
Marin, Vanessa. (2017). How to navigate social media boundaries in a relationship. Accessed November 16, 2017.
Montez, J., & Umberson, D., (2011). Social Relationships and Health: A flashpoint for health policy. Accessed November 4, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/
Siegel, Alyssa. (2015). How social media affects our relationship. Accessed November 7, 2017. http://psychologytomorrowmagazine.com/curfeat-how-social-media-affects-o...
The Doctors (2017, May 12). Are there social media rules for relationships? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIlJ_sHEsug
Wilkerson, Kenadie. (2017). Social networking sites and romantic relationships: Effects on development, maintenance, and dissolution of relationships. Accessed November 2, 2017. http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1576/social-networking-sites-an...
Google Image. T.V. show gif. Accessed December 1, 2017
Google Image. Betty White. Accessed December 1, 2017
Google Image. Tinder Meme. Accessed November 18, 2017. https://www.google.com/search?q=tinder+memes&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS757US757&so...