Tinder Identities

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Over the last few weeks I have been exploring the world of Tinder. In the midst of my swiping a few things began to stick out to me. First, there is a diverse subset of people on Tinder. My 30-mile radius contains grad students, international students, undergraduate students, PhD students, workers, entertainers, a variety of different races, ect. Tinder users claim to be looking for different things through the app. While Tinder has a reputation for Hook-ups, people use the app to find dates, life partners, friends, and just to have interesting conversations as well. Another notable Tinderism is the commonality of profile pictures among people in my radius—often containing puppies, children, and/or other women.

Perhaps the most interesting part of a Tinder profile is the “about me” section. In this section, users are given a space to say anything they wish to say for the other person to read about them. You would think that with the total freedom to write whatever you wish these would look different for each person, however, they begin to look the same after a few swipes because they still contain common elements. Common elements of this section (as depicted in the word cloud above) include interests, school, status, major, pop-culture references, quotes, religious and Greek affiliations, ect.

The most used word in the about me section is “I’m.” What is interesting about the I’m that is used in the about me section is that one puts-forth that they are describing themselves by using this word. I’m religious. I’m a soccer player. I’m white. I’m black. I’m hot. I’m funny. I’m such-and-such major. I’m a student. The word I’m in each of these instances and in the instances in which it is used on Tinder classifies people into certain Identification categories but doesn’t necessarily lay claim to who they are.

Identification categories have different meanings based on the context in which they are used. For example, to say I’m black on Tinder may either be redundant or humorous based on a person’s profile picture. To say I’m religious on Tinder may mean that I’m not looking for hook-ups or that I adhere to a particular religion. These claims to identification categories sit in as your Tinder identity, but does that identity align with your values and ethical stances? What are you saying on Tinder when you call yourself athletic? Is it a statement about your body or a proclamation of your love for sports? Is your Tinder Identity your True identity? What is a True identity anyhow?


Image: Screen Shot from https://www.jasondavies.com/wordcloud/

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