Let’s face it: our generation is obsessed with the concept of “instant gratification.”
Cellphones have become like another limb attached to our bodies. Full seasons of television shows are now immediately available instead of waiting an entire week for a new episode to come out. And as far as looking up directions, ordering food or searching for the definition of “lassitude,” don’t worry: “There’s an app for that.” (In case you were wondering, lassitude is defined as “a state of physical or mental weariness.”)
Not only has instant gratification engulfed our social lives, it has also taken over our personal lives. Relationships in the modern era have become something of a punch line. Marriage has become like Chinese food: delicious and hot when it first arrives, but thrown away once it becomes old and moldy.
Social media has done nothing to help; in fact, it has exacerbated the problem. One culprit in particular has made commitment out to be inconsequential and tedious: Tinder.
Tinder has only become popular within the past year and a half. Created by Sean Rad and Justin Mateen, the pair developed the app so Mateen could start meeting people. That was fall of 2012. Since then, Tinder’s popularity has exploded with one billion matches established, 800 million left or right swipes and 300 million marriage proposals made since March, 2014.
Tinder has become what dating websites like “OK Cupid” and “Match.com” were to our parents. But there is one major difference between the older version of online dating and this new, more hip form of matchmaking. You’ve got it: instant gratification.
I will shamefully admit that I had a Tinder account for about a weekend. Like everyone else who has downloaded the app, I swiped peoples’ profiles left or right, made several matches and interacted with a few interesting, mostly pleasant guys.
I soon found out that, underneath the shiny, glittering exterior of a potential relationship, there lay an ugly and egocentric center. I was stood up—twice—in the same week. As I sat alone in Starbucks, miserably contemplating my lack of a personal life, I found myself wondering how anyone could be so rude and uncouth as to make plans with someone, only to effortlessly leave them hanging.
But in the midst of wallowing in self-pity, I realized I had acted just as superficially as the two dates that had left me stranded with my cup of coffee and my damaged self-esteem. I had done something that every adult throughout my life in some shape or form warned me not to do: I had “judged a book by its cover.” I had based my opinion of a person on a few pictures and a 150-word biography instead of their personality, character and morals. Why should I demand that someone treat me with respect when I failed to return the favor?
Unfortunately, my experience is just one of millions. In modern culture, relationships have become trivial. The number of men and women who commit themselves exclusively to one another is steadily declining. Instead of forming true and long-lasting relationships for which it was originally created, Tinder is instead used for hook-ups and booty calls. Modern “relationships” have shorter shelf lives than the milk that stands in my refrigerator.
So when did these changes come about? What happened to the days when a relationship was something that people worked for? When did courting become something only found in a Jane Austen novel? How has the number of people one sleeps with become a scorecard with the winner receiving praise and admiration? Why is monogamy ridiculed?
Facebook is strewn with the lamentations of women who have failed to find a “good guy,” and the puzzlement of men who wonder why girls always fall for the “bad boy.” In an age when hook ups have become the social norm and having a “friend with benefits” is encouraged, it’s no wonder why relationships fail before they have a chance to begin. Tinder has become a reflection of the value our generation holds in our relationships. “Instant gratification” has become our “instant desperation.”
This story appeared in the Nov. 30, 2015 print edition of Sidelines. Copies are currently available for free on stands throughout MTSU’s campus.