Love at first swipe
First-years explore the digital dating world, one “like” at a time.
In college, there are so many different activities students have to juggle. Between balancing academics, clubs, dating and just finding time for themselves, it can be hard for young adults to navigate the little facets of life. So it’s no surprise that dating apps like Tinder and Bumble that make dating and meeting new people more accessible have been so eagerly welcomed by the college community. With the world at our literal fingertips, it is almost too easy to slide into the world of dating (and that cute kid’s DMs).
The appeal is obvious. Anyone can connect with other 18+ aged individuals with similar interests without the pretense of commitment. Sifting through a slew of potential interests with the flick of a finger makes it simple to weed out the ineligible hookup candidates, but what factors weigh into that decision?
According to four Brandeis first-years, Ruth Itzkowitz, Jack Ranucci, Simarn Regmi and Joella Waldman, a bio and quality pictures rank in as the most important aspects of a like-worthy profile. Users who have a bio that isn’t cocky, but who also offer interesting details about themselves, are more likely to be “swiped right” on. To have a successful profile, pictures must be tastefully curated. Waldman says among the least appealing types of pictures are the token cigar/ smoking pic, the “pro fisherman” pic and excessive or exclusively group photos.
Another thing students look out for is a university or school listed in a profile. It is hard to trust people you meet in person, let alone online, so a school listed along with a description of a person helps make them more reputable and relatable. Students may not even consider profiles that don’t have a school, or a prestigious school, listed under their name. In addition, most students interviewed have a “No Brandeis” rule to avoid the awkwardness that comes with bumping into a failed match or online flirtationship. University students, underclassmen especially, tend to have the age range set from 18 to 22 because older people might not be in the same place in their lives or have the same expectations as them.
After matching with someone, admitting mutual attraction on some level, the next step is the first message. On Tinder, the female students interviewed said that they only message first about a quarter of the time and on a case-by-case basis, just by nature of the platform. On Bumble, the deciding difference is that women must message first, per the app’s rules. Ranucci, a Bumble user, says that this helps avoid the “creepy men stigma” and creates less initial distrust between both parties with the women in charge of conversation. Either way, crafting the perfect way to establish initial contact can be nerve-racking.
Everyone is using these types of apps for different reasons, but whether it be for dog pictures, to find parties, make a friend or for a quick hookup, students are looking for people with similar interests and intentions. Regmi predominantly uses it to find parties on other campuses. Students attending larger Boston schools tend to invite Tinder matches to their weekend parties, possibly with the intention of hooking up (or maybe just to fill events up). Regardless, invitations to parties on Tinder make it easier to find something to do in the city or take a break from the usual off-campus Brandeis frat parties. Other students are just on these apps to flirt or for the instant gratification that comes with complete strangers stroking your ego. Chatting with strangers can be its own fun too, because it’s low-risk and both people know they passed the initial test of the swipe.
Meeting up with matches can be a whole other daunting experience entirely and isn’t as common as the casual, bored flirting that most people aren’t foreign to. Seeing someone that you met on an app like Tinder for the first time is inherently awkward if expectations are not discussed beforehand. Waldman says that it is important to talk about sex and boundaries to clarify what both parties intend to do and expect. Although platforms such as Tinder and Bumble do promote the casual hook-up, students said they would not be opposed to meeting someone through the app that they could have a future with beyond a date or hook-up. Good or bad, most people have some type of opinion on dating apps. However, students agree that stigma has evolved. Millennials and Gen Z-ers, even if not active users or supporters, tend to understand the logic behind it. Even though Tinder dates will probably remain something you might not write home about, they are still an accepted part of young adulthood. In the college atmosphere, lots of people are looking for new experiences and new people to talk to, especially on a smaller campus like Brandeis. Dating apps can provide an exciting way to meet similar students or cute dogs through a controlled and more or less safe environment.