Community Based Apps: Matching People Worldwide

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Considering Tinder has over 50 million users, it’s safe to say that it has become one of the most popular dating apps on the market today. Tinder is nothing new in the online dating world, but its ease of use and addictive, game-like qualities make it quite attractive to a younger demographic, perhaps for the simple fact that its setup mimics the way we go about meeting people in real life. It’s human nature to make initial judgments based on physical appearance, although we might not want to admit it; nevertheless, Tinder appeals to us because of that very function. That is not to say that physical appearance equates to beauty, but rather it allows users to capture a better sense of a person through a variety of physical details on the user’s profile, rather than a long list of hobbies and interests, as Jessica Carbino’s research has shown at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a society, we have become very comfortable meeting complete strangers online, whether that is through such successful dating sites like Tinder, multiplayer video games or subject specific online forums. As Mark Deuze observes in his book, Media Work, “people use the Internet overwhelming for interpersonal communication, whether it is in the context of work, love or play” (35).

The prevalence of meeting people online reminded me of a project that I did in a new media class that I took abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. Each group had to “create a transmedia experience around a community or an idea,” all of which developed into different types of apps. Even though we had a fairly broad prompt, I noticed each group followed similar paths by using Tinder as a model for their projects. In essence, each app provided its users with the service of connecting people based on similar interests and goals.

For instance, my group noticed a recurring problem on the DIS Facebook page where someone would exclaim that they were planning a weekend trip to, let’s say Amsterdam, but needed a travel buddy. Since DIS is such a large program of over a thousand students, there was a good chance that someone else was also thinking about making a trip to Amsterdam. Those two (or more) people would get in touch and that was that, end of story. But to everyone’s displeasure, tons of messages would appear on the Facebook page, annoying us to no end. My group approached solving this issue by creating an app specifically designed to match people based on their travel destinations, interests and available travel dates. This would enable DIS students to find travel buddies effectively and efficiently, instead of searching for someone in a crowd of hundreds. Its basic function serves a similar purpose as Tinder does, except instead of finding a match for your love life, you were able to find that special someone who has a sweet spot for those delicious Dutch pastries.

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This is a microcosmic example of Deuze’s example of Meetup.com, a similar type of “rendez-vous technology” permeating current online platforms “that serve as nodal points for connecting people” (34- 35). It is interesting to note that all aspects of our daily lives have been intertwined thanks to the exponential growth of technology, especially computers and smartphones, in the few past decades. Even though many criticize how technology promotes isolation, people are using it to expand their horizons as a way to “bridge existing social divides, or to bond people with already similar beliefs” (32). Liquid life has blurred the lines between work and leisure, which is present in our day-to-day lives off and online, further suggesting that the Internet “widens and deepens [the] experience of community” rather than taking away from it (32). With that being said, Tinder is only one of many embodying this prevalent occurrence online today.

 

Bilton, Nick. “Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth.” The New York Times. 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

Deuze, Mark. Media Work. Cambridge: Polity, 2011. Print.

Smith, Craig. “By the Numbers: 17 Impressive Tinder Statistics.” Digital Marketing Stats/Strategy/Gadgets. 9 May 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

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