By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Tinder, the current craze amongst singles on the prowl, is an addictive dating “app” (built exclusively for smart phones and tablets) that has caught on in Rio de Janeiro. While online dating and social media flirting is nothing new, the instant connections made through this mobile app has Cariocas and foreigners alike glued to their screens.
Tinder’s success may be due to it being incredibly simple: based on a photo, the user has the option to swipe to the right if he or she likes the person and to the left if he or she does not. If there is a match (and both parties like each other), the users will be informed immediately. Tinder users can only talk to one another if the interest is mutual and there is a “match.”
In addition to up to five photos, one’s profile can also include a short tagline and a showing of shared interests or friends in common (if relevant). Unlike traditional, dating websites, Tinder, which links to one’s Facebook photos, simplifies everything so that the focus is on primarily looks and style, not any wordy biographies or long personal statements.
It also only shows users within a certain proximity (up to 160 kilometers) and users cannot elect to talk to people in a different city. The app is thus primarily based on convenience and for that reason, has been deemed by some as a “hook-up app” above all else. Whatever it is used for, its popularity is undeniable. As of late February, the app boasted ten million users in Brazil alone, rising at two percent a day.
One Rio resident from Minas Gerais, who prefers to remain anonymous, states, “I use Tinder to talk and meet women. I like the privacy that the app provides. I don’t really like the chat system, because it doesn’t allow you to know if the message has been read. I met three girls through Tinder – the dates were nice and not awkward.”
Brazilians are not the only ones to have caught on to the trend, the app also has a fan base of foreigners in Rio. Welington Molina Sosa, a Spaniard living in Rio, says, “I think that Tinder is a good idea, because it’s a chance to get to know someone close to you, who you are attracted to and share similar interests with. You have the opportunity to chat and you can’t lose anything by that.”
An American girl living in Rio uses it and is not a huge fan. She claims, “I liked the novelty of it, but there were not many attractive, normal people on there, so I may deactivate soon.” She met up with one guy and was disappointed: “The dude was normal on Whatsapp and Tinder text but when we met, he was not as cute as his pictures and he had a weird twitch and crazy look in his eyes.”
While not everyone is a fan, there is no denying its overall appeal. This year’s Carnival blocos even saw its fair share of people dressed up as Tinder profiles. In November last year, Forbes reported that App Annie, a service that tracks app store rankings, shows that the app recently ranked as the #1 overall iOS app in Norway, #3 in New Zealand and #4 in Brazil.
Tinder follows in the footsteps of other dating apps, such as Grindr, the app for gays and bisexuals, and its straight version, Blendr. Hinge is a new dating app (currently only available on the East Coast of the U.S.) that just might be Tinder’s latest competition. Hinge also requires that users like one another before conversing; but this more filtered version of Tinder takes it one step further by matching people exclusively with friends of friends.