The Tinderisation of Everyday Life: when too much choice backfires
Rather than giving people a sense of liberation, endless choices can give a feeling of over-stimulation and oppression. Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice notes that overwhelming choice can be both debilitating and tyrannising. He argues in The Economist that the digital generation is forc
blog post for Welldoing.org I discussed dating apps like Tinder and Grindr in the context of Melvin Kranzberg’s famous maxim that “Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.” As I described in that post:
The thing that makes technology not neutral is its architecture – that it enables certain kinds of relating, while disabling others.” In the context of dating apps like Tinder, the technology narrows down the complexity of potential interpersonal relationships to photos and short profiles creating “a space for quick judgements enabling an erotic encounter.”
The development of online shopping and social media over the past decade, in some sense, has always been leading towards what might be called “Tinderisation” and it is somewhat worrying.
The underlying notion behind Tinderisation is a combination of choice and convenience. This is reflected in most of our online shopping opportunities these days, with Amazon being the best example of a market for just abo
While many of these engagements may have negative consequences, there is nothing essentially bad about the low bar that’s enabled by the Internet. Through social media and platforms like FaceTime and Skype, we can be in much closer contact to friends and family members spread across the globe. It truly does make the world a smaller place. The shadow, however, is that the same ease and convenience that lets you one-click shop on your smart phone has a series of consequences that we might ultimately call “Tinderisation”. When shopping, objects can be chosen or returned with little emotional consequence other than momentary excitement, sticker shock, or regret; people, on the other hand tend to experience some of their most profound emotional reactions when chosen or rejected by another. While the actual method of choosing or rejecting on Tinder itself protects its users from constant rejection by only pairing individuals that find each other attractive, the implicit nature of the platform is where the real action is happening. This implicit nature is also imbedded into most of our technological hardware and software, and that involves what might be called droppability.
It is not uncommon, when on Facebook chat, for example, to suddenly stop responding to the person you are communicating with online. The same goes for a conversation going by way of text message – it may go back and fourth for some time before one member of the party suddenly goes silent. Most of us have learned to accept this. Perhaps the learning started in the early days of the mobile phone when connections would suddenly be lost, as still happens today when trains go through tunnels.
Texts may cease because another call has come in, a connection is lost, or a real-life conversation took priority. Facebook messaging often occurs at work, so an engaging conversation may cease when the boss walks in the room. All of this, we have mostly come to accept. What appears less acceptable, however, is when we are having the real-life conversation and we are dropped for a text message, an incoming call, or even worse, when you’re on a Tinder date and someone checks their Tinder! Have we learned to make each other droppable?
I believe that there is starting to be a backlash against Tinderisation. People are beginning to experience both choice-fatigue alongside an exhaustion of online social connection. Businesses and brands that want to get in on the act are merely adding to the fatigue. Not only can most people see through many brands’ simplistic efforts at “psychological incorporation” – that is, trying to become some “body” rather than an entity, but if people can be picked up and dropped like a gum wrapper, wi
You may also wish to join my Author Page on Facebook to keep up with my latest blog posts, events, and news about psychology, social media, and technology.
This piece was written for the Josephine Shaw Partnership for a cross-disciplinary exercise with other professionals also looking at “Tinderisation.” All of our inputs will be published there soon, at which point I will update with a cross-link here.
“Tinder”: Denis Bocquet
“As Seen Online”: Richard Winchell