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Dating app ‘Tinder’ delegitimizes real relationships, human interaction

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

This is no longer a game: Tinder users would do well to play in the real world.

"Tinder empowers users around the world to create new connections that otherwise might never have been possible," brags the popular dating application's website. "We build products that bring people together."

Despite its creators' altruistic intentions, the reality of Tinder usage often falls short of a fairytale ending - especially on a college campus, where a majority of users consider the app as more of a game than a way to build a relationship.

Tinder as a game is a frightening thought and deserves attention, but first, let's talk about the app's promise to help us make connections we could not otherwise make.

Tinder is based on location, uniting users with those in their immediate geographic area.

Unlike other social media such as Facebook and Instagram, which can help you stay in touch with people in different places, Tinder is based on proximity.

Instead of helping you meet new people, Tinder simply offers an alternate - and far more awkward - way of interacting with those in the surrounding area.

For example, Tinder lets you swipe right on and exchange semi-serious flirty messages with other users, so that you can then avert your eyes in embarrassment or walk in the other direction when you and your match actually cross paths on campus.

Or, say you and your Tinder match hit it off and decide to hang out. This initial meeting can be full of high expectations and often uncomfortable.

These situations operate more like business deals than dates. Like a businessperson making a transaction, you are aiming for customer satisfaction - the person chose you and you don't want them to reject you after seeing who you really are. You feel the need to live up to your carefully crafted online persona.

As college students, we are surrounded by thousands of others our age who have similar interests. Why are we allowing clicking through a few photos to become an alternative for actually talking to each other? Isn't it better to let social exchanges occur naturally - to sit next to the cute boy in your class or strike up a conversation with the girl in front of you in line at Pulley?

Our acceptance of Tinder as a valid form of socializing is indicative of a larger problem afflicting our generation. Many college students insist they would rather get to know others "in real life," or by having face-to face-conversations. But when it comes down to it, those same people are the ones hiding behind their phone screens, avoiding any real human interaction.

Even those who log onto Tinder looking for entertainment rather than love might be setting themselves up for problems, namely the issue of turning real life into a game.

The basic set-up of Tinder encourages a competitive mentality. Users, then, unknowingly subject themselves to the fierce competition of the gaming world. Egged on by Tinder's employment of the enticing phrase, "Keep playing!" users fall into the trap of swiping until their hand fatigues. The game, as it were, morphs the fellow "players" into objects, which are pivotal to advancing levels, but seemingly worthless otherwise.

The level advancement is thus achieved when a match is secured. A back and forth of competitive messages then ensues in which the competitors try, with each successive message, to display their best one-liners, their best side.

Eventually, the conversation can lead to the highest level - meeting the match in real life - although this is a part of the game that can be easily avoided. Don't show up, that's all it takes, and back you go to the game.

Tinder exemplifies our society's tendency to simplify anything and everything we can. Convenient as it is, using Tinder as a game with unlimited lives becomes problematic when college students grow older and consider more serious relationships.

How will we react when showing only our best side isn't possible, when we can't duck our heads to hide? When we want to be seen as more than objects to be judged for the sake of enjoying a game?

Let's stop hiding behind these applications, exit the gaming world and reintroduce ourselves to the real one.

Awkward encounters are inevitable, but trying to avoid them completely will only end up biting us in the ass. Accept the challenges of real life and you just might create connections on your own.

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