Tinder’s Subscription Model: Dystopian Dating or Casual Fun?

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Tinder was founded in 2012 as a way for its users to feel more comfortable when meeting new people. The app itself is simple: you are presented with the most surface level information about someone and you decide whether or not you are interested in that person. Swipe right if you are, and left if you aren’t. However, over the past eight years, Tinder’s creators have added copious new features to the app, with many of them requiring users to pay or sign up for a subscription-based membership. It isn’t as simple as swiping left or right anymore. Options such as “Super Likes,” “Top Picks,” and other features offered by Tinder Plus, Gold, and Platinum have created a new culture in the already baffling service. Therefore, those who are able to pay can access more features, match with more people, and will generally have more success when using Tinder. Although the paid features of Tinder are not necessarily malicious or harmful, users should question why they would want to pay for upgraded service before actually purchasing it.

Tinder Gold Price Options (tinder.com)

There are four levels of Tinder subscriptions. The first is simply the free version of Tinder. The user has access to the basic interface and one free Super Like every twenty-four hours. The next level is Tinder Plus. The most appealing features of this subscription include unlimited likes (right-swipes), removal of advertisements from the app, and access to the rewind feature. Rewind allows the user to go back to a profile they just swiped left on. For users looking to truly upgrade their Tinder experience, Tinder Gold provides all of the features that come with Tinder Plus as well as some additional ones. The two most striking are the Top Picks feature and gaining the ability to see everyone who has swiped right on you before you decide what to swipe. Top Picks, as defined by Tinder.com, “highlights your most swipe-worthy potential matches.” These “Picks” update every single day, providing the user with new “swipe-worthy” strangers to swipe left or right on. The fourth and final level of Tinder subscriptions is known as Tinder Platinum. According to Tinder, Tinder Platinum is an experimental service only offered in certain markets, so it is not a universally offered service. However, the perks and features of Tinder Platinum are outlined on Tinder.com. The main difference between Tinder Gold and Tinder Platinum is the ability to send a message to users when you choose to swipe right. This allows you to add more information about yourself or comment on another’s profile before they choose to match with you or not. Obviously, these features give some advantages to users who choose the paid subscription model. However, the question is not about whether or not these features are supplemental to one’s Tinder experience. Rather, it is about whether the cost is worth the supposed promise of finding sex, love, or a potential future partner.

Some features offered by Tinder (tinder.com)

What makes premium features of Tinder so appealing to its users? It depends on what the user is looking for and how active they are on Tinder. For someone looking for a one-night stand or some form of a casual relationship, these features may be seen as ideal because the user will be able to maximize his or her potential “matches.” But what does this mean in terms of our relationships with others? The Internet and social media have already dehumanized people by putting them and others behind a screen as they share filtered photos, updates and other news with their friends and followers. Now, Tinder has essentially monetized relationships and dating. By paying for features, one is buying into the idea that they will be able to be more successful in their romantic lives if they spend money on Tinder. Therefore, although the features associated with paid subscriptions on Tinder may not be inherently malicious in nature, they are removing the aspect of personification from relationships, as users will judge others based off of a few images and a short biography. 

An example of “Top Picks” Tinder.com

Tinder is a complicated service. It promises everything from one-night stands to relationships in the palm of your hand. However, it promises more of those encounters when one pays for Tinder Plus, Gold, or Platinum. Not only is this an economic barrier for some, but it can also be mentally harmful as users begin to view others as an image on a screen rather than an actual person. To classify users as “Top Picks” or even to provide one with advantages in romantic encounters because they pay for a service is a dangerous practice. In a way, Tinder is no longer defined entirely by its community. Its features and paid subscriptions have created new hierarchies on Tinder. Although Tinder is still a changing platform, it may not be changing for the better as these paid services only continue to evolve.

All information from Tinder.com

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