College Dating: Has Your Phone Become the New Frat Party?

Do you tinder? I don't. But I've been asked that question enough times to know that, yes, "tinder" is a verb. It has become so popular (over 35 million profiles have been rated) that the name of the application is an action (think Instagram).

For those of you who have yet to hear about this novel application, here's a short summary. According to the tinder website, "Tinder finds out who likes you nearby, and connects you with them if you're also interested. It's all anonymous until someone you like, likes you back." In essence, the dating application generates a pool of people with whom you have mutual friends on Facebook and who live close to you. If you "like" someone's profile and he or she "likes" yours, you can send each other messages. So this isn't just any online dating service -- this service exclusively offers you mutual friends. See? It's safe. At least it's marketed that way.

However, after talking to some people who proceeded to the chatting phase -- it's a big step, I know -- I've heard some interesting stories. A guy asked one of my friends to go on a date at Sushi of Gari, a fairly expensive sushi chain in New York City, but she declined because she was a little creeped out by his generosity. Another one of my friends met up with a guy at a bar in SoHo, got drinks, didn't feel a connection, and decided to stop using the application, at least temporarily. But my other friend's roommate met a guy, started dating, and now she has a boyfriend. (I've met him. He exists and is actually a very nice guy.)

Aside from the fact that people are getting together because they met through an application on their phones, which might not be the safest thing to do, what about the phenomenon itself? I mean, is our generation so desperate that we have resorted to online dating before graduating college? Have we become so engrossed in the online world that the only "move" people have in their repertoire is to like someone's profile? Granted, rejection still exists, but worst-case scenario, you like someone's page and he or she decides not to like you back. It's pretty easy not to feel bad about being rejected by someone you never met. Or maybe people are so interested in maximizing their efficiency that they want to see as many options as they can before they commit. But while I find the psychology of the application extremely interesting, the fact that people are so open about "tindering" fascinates me even more.

In the past, when people created online dating profiles, they rarely talked about it. People would never say, "Guess what? I just created a profile on (insert dating website here)! Do you have one???" Online dating websites are for people who have searched and searched for a partner and could not find a match. (This isn't my bias against those websites; that's how the companies market them.) Yet asking people if they tinder and talking about how many likes you have seems to be a common topic of conversation. This application isn't marketed to those who have struggled in the dating scene, it's marketed to those who have barely entered it.

When you think about it, college should be the easiest place to meet potential partners. Almost everyone lives in the same area, people usually go to the same parties or bars, and there's also that whole aspect of class. So why are all these college students searching for boyfriends or girlfriends on their phone instead of in the library or cafeteria or at the local bar? I'm not sure, but if our generation wants to stop adults from criticizing us on how we don't know how to socialize; are always on our phones; don't know how to talk to people in person, we might want to rethink tindering. I don't know -- maybe it's the next best thing. But maybe people could think about talking to each other in person. What a concept.