It’s Tinder’s fourth birthday, and while the dating app playfully dubbed “the human Seamless for sex” has led to headlines like “The 10 Worst Dudes on Tinder,” it’s still a cause for celebration.
Despite cold takes that Tinder perpetuates hook-up culture and is killing romance as we know it, the app has been downloaded 100 million times and is obviously doing something right. In four fast years, it’s amassed users in 196 countries and is available in 30 languages. Each day, Tinder sees 1.4 billion swipes and 25 million matches, boasting more than 11 billion matches to date—and all of this with a limit on daily swipes.
Like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook, founders Sean Rad, Jonathan Badeen, Justin Mateen, Joe Munoz, Whitney Wolfe, Dinesh Moorjani, and Chris Gylczynski first introduced Tinder to college campuses on this day in 2012.
“They thought if this product is successful among that young college demographic, who also happens to be the most social group of people on the planet [and] the least likely to need an app to meet people, it can [work] for anyone,” Tinder spokesperson Rosette Pambaki told Complex. While today’s youth grew up in the age of tech, most dating sites like OkCupid and Match.com (which advertises marriage) tend to have a stigma with millennials. Tinder is generally perceived as a more fun way to connect with people, with less of an air of desperation.
Though Tinder gets flak for being a superficial vehicle for meaningless sex, it has undoubtedly changed the landscape of dating. Tinder still requires conversation for two people to connect, but it’s unlike older dating sites that require long profile formats. “It’s just like real life, when you walk into a bar or coffee shop. Someone’s resume isn’t stuck to their forehead,” Pambaki explains. Without a long profile, Tinder users have more control over their first impressions, and whether or not they use this format to offer a deeper look into their character is entirely up to them.
Former Tinder user Francesca Rizzo says that in the nearly three years she used the app, she learned not to take it so seriously: “I get a lot of either really weird messages or nice messages, there's really no in between.”
oh my. pic.twitter.com/mRYU41f078— Tinder Nightmares (@HorribleTinder) March 14, 2016
With Tinder’s biggest demographic in the 18 to 24 age bracket, it’s not exceptionally surprising that some matches are made purely to hook-up. While that may not be for everyone, changing the world of dating might not be a bad thing—especially considering that the U.S. has steadily maintained a 40 to 50 percent divorce rate.
The dating app is also responsible for innovating user experiences that have been adopted by other models. Jonathan Bedeen, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Tinder, is the inventor of the swipe that’s now incorporated in countless other mobile apps. Tinder also introduced the double opt-in that requires two users to like each other before messaging, which is now a staple in other dating apps like Hinge and Bumble.
Tinder was basically a safe icebreaker that already told me this person was somewhat interested in me because we matched.
Tinder has also evolved with other popular tech, like adopting verified accounts from Twitter. Last year, the dating app introduced Tinder Plus, which allows users to switch locations more easily and gives users the chance to go back to a profile in case they swiped in the wrong direction. Most recently, Tinder Social was added to the app so users could meet up in groups.
Call it bougie or jaded or simply self-love, but I’m personally anti-Tinder since I can slide into someone’s DMs fairly successfully or even (gasp!) approach men in real life. But for those who don’t find it easy to strike up conversations with strangers, Tinder can be a blessing.
Twenty-nine year old Tyler Watamanuk said that prior to meeting his girlfriend at work a year ago, he was—like many people—terrified of rejection. “Tinder was basically a safe icebreaker that already told me this person was somewhat interested in me because we matched,” he says. “It basically served as a crutch for the part of dating I was the worst at.” Tinder set out to simplify introductions four years ago, and it’s definitely succeeded. It might not boast as many marriages as Match.com, but I bet it doesn’t have as many divorces, either.