In late September, Hinge sent out an email to its current and former members saying, more or less, “We are aware that dating apps, including ours, make you want to hide under your bed and never interact with humans again.” They announced a new and more humane version of the app, and they’re not the only dating company aware that the current Tinder culture is demoralizing to basically everyone.
Hinge is setting bold expectations, rebranding itself as “The Relationship App,” a place where people can truly communicate and connect. The initial changes, however, have been minor–at least superficially.
Instead of swiping, Hinge users now scroll through several photos and brief answers, known as “Stories.” It would be better if Hinge required at least as many answers as photos, to weed out people unwilling put the time in to write a one sentence response.
Matching doesn’t happen in the same way it does on Tinder and similar apps, though it’s not drastically different. To connect with someone initially, you can comment on a specific photo or answer.
In a few months, Hinge will have a pay wall, which will presumably cut down on the number of people who aren’t serious about finding a serious relationship.
It’s a worthy goal; though many people looking to date for the sake of dating find the seemingly unlimited online options appealing, people in search of healthy, long-term relationships can easily become discouraged in this app-driven society.
But can changing the format of an app and adding a payment model change the underlying problems with Generation Y’s dating culture?
The short attention span and impatience that has stemmed from our multi-screen existence also seems to have permeated into the search for love. After all, why bother continue to know someone who isn’t everything you ever wanted if there’s someone else, potentially better, just a swipe away?
That curiosity about what else and who else might be out there has always been a natural human quality, but Tinder and its counterparts have validated and exacerbated it to many people’s detriment.
Free and easy dating apps have also validated people’s superficiality, which negatively impacts many minorities, especially black women and Asian men. If the first impression is just a picture, and a picture is all you need to see before dismissing someone, it’s easy to let any latent prejudices run rampant, and then to justify them as preferences.
Realistically, no one company can fix those issues–they will only become fixed when enough consumers in the dating sphere make it clear with both our time and money that quality is, actually, more important than convenience.
But if Hinge and the other apps catered to serious relationship-seekers start to put more of their innovation into addressing such problems, we may all be better for it.
– Naakai Addy