Are You a Screen Siren?

Can you find and develop new relationships online? Find out here...
BySarah HamdanMonday , 17 March 2014
© (c) Jamie Grill
© (c) Henrik Sorensen

No... no... not him, either... hmm, maybe... Now this guy seems interesting!” This could be a regular conversation between you and your bestie during a night out on the town as you scope out the scene for your potential future partner.  Enter the Tinder app that lets you take this interaction into the online, digital world: the two of you can be sitting on the couch in your pyjamas, giggling over photos of the man with the uni-brow and drooling over the athletic surfer who runs his own company, during commercial breaks on TV.  

It goes a little something like this:  Tinder relies on GPS and Facebook to find matches of friends in your vicinity.  If you see a photo of someone you find attractive or friendly, you can swipe to the right.  If you come across a photo of someone who doesn’t pique your interest (um, a shiny gold suit and a mohawk? Really?), you can swipe left and never see their face again.  If you and a user have mutually swiped right to each others’ photos, then you can start messaging on Tinder’s special messaging platform to get to know one another and develop a friendship – and in some cases, even more.

In November 2013, only a year after the launch of the app, Tinder said that it was responsible for 150 marriages that it is aware of, hundreds of new friendships, and thousands of dates and funny stories.  Sean Rad, Tinder’s creator and founder, is a 27-year old Californian who had a hard time meeting new people himself because he found that when he went to restaurants and bars, he would tend to enjoy his time with friends he came with rather than chatting to new people.  He found it difficult to truly expand his social circle and meet women. 

So the same way you might see someone across the room who you find attractive, Tinder accomplishes the scenario online, showing you photos of people who are in a specified radius.  

And Sean says the app is most popular with those between the ages of 25 – 40: the busy, career-focused people who would love a new avenue to meet someone new.

Daniella Corneliu has lived in Dubai for two years, moving from her hometown in Romania to work as a receptionist at an at a hotel.  Her work hours are long and when the weekend rolls around, she enjoys spending time surfing at the beach, going out at night if there’s an event. Other than work colleagues and a few Romanian friends in Dubai, she has had a hard time meeting interesting, new people. When she first heard about Tinder, she dismissed it as superficial and shallow. 

“I thought, really?  I’m going to judge others on how good they look and they will do the same for me?  What kind of basis is that for a friendship .. no thank you!”  says the 31-year old with a laugh.

One night out one of the girls was showing the others the app and said that by using the app that she had actually met with people who were very interesting once they had had a chance to chat.  Her friend got her to try it and Daniella met funny people, and one guy who she has gone out with three times already.

“It’s entertaining and I’ve had a laugh, but I’ve actually met someone who could be a friend or something more, I’m still figuring it out...” she says.

These days, it’s difficult to shut out the online world.  With the popularity of social platforms like Facebook, it was only a matter of time before apps like Tinder (which use your Facebook profile photos), emerged as a new way to interact with friends of friends and others online.  If you’re just looking for new friends, you can add people to your friendship list on Tinder and have platonic conversations.  If you’re looking for something more then you talk can take a romantic tone and see where it goes.

Lulu is a new girls-only app based on Facebook (naturally), that actually has a rating system.  It shows you ratings of men you know from other girls in categories like looks, personality, generosity, and wit.  There are extra qualities highlighted with hashtags, such as #GoodAtSurprises, #RovingEye, or #WearsCrocs.  Lulu is not even a year old and already has 1 million users logging on multiple times a day, and growing.

So it begs the question – do online connections really work?  Is it as good, or better, than the spark you feel when you befriend or chat with someone for the first time?  What if you swipe past a photo of someone just based on looks alone – have you missed an opportunity with an amazing person that you could have found a connnection with?  Can you really find friendships on the Internet?

Experts say that there are pros and cons to meeting people online.  On the one hand, the field of eligible partners and friends dramatically increases.  It’s inexpensive and there’s enough information for you to sift out the crazies.  On the down side, it encourages a “shopping” mentality and can make you a little lazy to actually socialize in the real world.

“You can hide behind your screen or, worse, become complacent and expect your computer to deliver your soul mate,” says relationship expert Bill Paglia-Scheff.  “The online world is a great way to expand your network, but don’t expect the Internet to satisfy all your social needs and be sufficient replacement for activities and nights out.”

Whether you decide to try it out for fun or as a serious way to meet new people, you’ll end up with some good stories to tell. Happy swiping!

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