There are few things, I think, that are more embarrassing than a corporation trying to be cool. I don’t need boohoo.com telling me about hot girl summer, and I don’t want Love Island merch everywhere. “It is what it is” is completely meaningless. Shut up. It’s like explaining slang to your parents who don’t quite do it correctly but are very earnest – but when corporations do it, things feel much more creepy. You aren’t my friend: you’re trying to get my money. Which is fine, but let’s be upfront about it.
So when Tinder released information about Vibes, I was sceptical. Firstly, it’s literally an abbreviation of ‘vibrations’ and if their user base invested in vibrators, they’d lose everyone’s business – less hassle and less chance of an unexpected STI if you just get yourself off – and secondly, it feels like pandering. “Look”, wheezes Tinder’s 50 year old CEO “I can hang 10 at the beach. I’m all about that SOCIAL life, yo!” Cringe. If anything, this is going to oversaturate the term and make it feel even more dated in a few years.
The idea itself is pretty straightforward and doesn’t seem like anything especially interesting: it’s a push for people to use the app at a certain time, where users answer questions about themselves. The answers are only available for 48 hours, then the Vibes… go away, I guess? But then, at some point, another Vibes event will happen and users can come and vibrate again.
Now there are some clear advantages to Vibes, sure. When you put more information on your profile you’re more likely to match with people who share your ideas and interests. Getting lots of people to use the app at the same time also seems advantageous, because then messages get read and responded to faster, and there’s no more waiting around for hours because your match is busy with their life.
What I think the issue is, is that if you’re going to go to the effort of updating your profile, wouldn’t you want the results to last longer than 48 hours? According to Tinder’s press release, Gen Z are updating their profiles three times more than everyone else, but it seems unlikely that they’re changing things every two days. Maybe it could be a weekly thing, like washing bed sheets, or a monthly thing, like checking your extremities for lumps. Either way, I wouldn’t spend more time than it takes to add an Instagram story on something that will be gone so quickly.
Finally, I do have some reservations about everyone using Tinder at the same time. Endless studies have shown that women get far more matches than men, which can feel pretty overwhelming and possibly lead to ghosting. If there’s a special time where Tinder is flooded with users, it seems likely that some women will look at a list of men, patiently waiting for a response to their messages, and simply delete the app. It’s too much: you need to space things out through the day. Then from men’s perspective: if you’re going to message women who delete their accounts that could feel pretty insulting, and if you’re sending messages that are being ignored, you may well feel down and might also stop using the app.
Look, Tinder is a $10 billion company. They’ve done their research, consulted with dating experts, sex experts, app users and probably had a trial run. They know far more about this than I do. But looking at their proposal (which is due to start in May) I can’t help but think this is a flash-in-the-pan, gimmicky thing that will alienate users just as much as it brings them in. Or else it’ll be ignored, yet another notification on a smartphone that pings, buzzes and flashes a hundred times a day.