Graphic of the rec with icons. Credit: Mustang News

Anthropology and geography freshman Caroline Kelleher became single right before coming to college. Having just turned 18, she decided she wanted to see what Tinder could offer her. 

“I just thought it’d be kind of fun to try and see what I would encounter on there,” Kelleher said.  

Tinder gives students the opportunity to meet new people and build relationships without having to interact with strangers in a face-to-face setting.  

Tinder also functions as a source of amusement, according to English freshman Camden Winton, who said she initially downloaded Tinder for a laugh between her and her friends.

“One random night a month into school, I was like, should I get Tinder? And then I was like, ‘let’s play Tinder,’” Winton said.

The app works by showing users possible matches and their basic information, a short bio and pictures, based on the preferences they have inputted in their profile. The app allows them to either swipe left – suggesting they are not interested – or to swipe right for a potential match. If two people both swipe right on each other, they are then matched and can begin a chat conversation. 

“It’s something I’ve always been kind of against just because I feel like it’s kind of weird and forced, but that doesn’t really actually matter,” mechanical engineering freshman Nick Humphrey, who just downloaded Tinder, said. 

Mechanical engineering freshman Justin Gosling said he downloaded Tinder the summer before college because he felt bored and lonely, thinking Tinder was the most casual dating app out of the other popular ones.

“I think a lot of people are just looking to hook up,” Winton said. “So, even though it’s like the whole point of a dating app to find a relationship, I really don’t think that that’s what people are looking for.” 

A report by Global Dating Insights found that 84.4% of college students using dating apps were using Tinder. 

“I like Tinder the most because it’s like super quick, you don’t have to get too invested and there is just a lot of people on there,” Kelleher said. 

However, of 288 students polled by Mustang News, 65% of students using dating apps responded that they do not prefer Tinder over the other options and 35% said they do prefer Tinder. 

Also, of the 288 students Mustang News polled, 68% of students using Tinder are using it just for fun, whereas 32% are using it to find people to meet up with.

“It just feels like a game,” environmental engineering freshman Ava Moorhead said in reference to using Tinder. “I do it because it’s funny, but I have never really hung out with anyone.”

While Tinder can seem like a “game” for some students, for other users, the app can pose real-life risks and danger. 

Cal Poly alum and founder of SLO Queers Ally Gaeckle said that, as a queer woman looking for other women to date, she has been dissatisfied with the overall experience dating apps have provided. 

“With dating apps, the hardest part is bridging the gap between messaging matches online and meeting in real life. There are so many barriers keeping people from getting together in-person including safety concerns, anxiety/fear, lack of chemistry over text etc.,” Gaeckle wrote. 

After matching with someone on Tinder, either party can begin a conversation using direct messaging. 

According to Winton, some men are blatantly disrespectful to women with their pickup lines and say things on Tinder they would not have the confidence to say to someone’s face. 

“Most of the time you know that they are looking to hook up, but some of the stuff they say is so bold and disgusting,” Winton said. 

A survey conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo on American adults who used dating apps found that 35% of users were sent unprompted sexually explicit messages or images. Additionally, 9% of users were threatened with physical harm. 

In a survey done by Columbia Journalism Investigations, 31% of the 1,244 women that responded reported that they had been sexually assaulted or raped by a person they had met through online dating.

To combat issues that specifically queer women face using dating apps, Gaeckle put together a Valentine’s speed dating event at Bliss Cafe. 

“By hosting the event in person, participants can skip all the barriers that dating apps present and form relationships face-to-face from the start,” Gaeckle wrote.