I logged into my Tinder account for the first time in three months last night after hearing about Tinder Boost.
Needless to say, there were still the usual characters: people whose profile picture includes three of their best friends (so you have no clue which one they are), people whose profile picture is just a shot of their abs, people with the largest fish they’ve ever caught (why are there so many of them?!), people with their sister (or girlfriend? or ex-girlfriend?).
But the recent news of Tinder Boost hints that those characters might be changing.
This week, Tinder announced that it will be releasing a new feature to allow users to “boost” themselves to the front of the swiping line. For 30 minutes, boosted users will “skip the line” and appear first in others matches. The plan is currently to offer Tinder Plus members one free Boost per week, and then allow those members or other users to purchase individual Boosts as wanted. Tinder is testing Boost in Australia this month and plans to release the feature globally soon after.
The Boost idea is far from new in the world of online dating. Dating sites like Match.com and Bumble already allow users to bump themselves up to popular pages or use extra features for an additional fee. What concerns us a little though is that features like this might be more than a little classist and could take away the allure of dating apps.
If Tinder users can pay their way to the top of the dating hierarchy, we have to wonder what that will do to our dating lives. Instead of matching with people based on compatibility, we’ll be finding future partners based on who’s paid the most.
Half the struggle of Tinder Boost is tied up in pricing: if too many people can afford Boosts, everyone will do it and it will lose it’s value. “A package of Boosts will provide a discount compared to purchasing one,” Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s vice president of communications, said in an interview with NBC News. “Similar to other Tinder Plus features, we are charging to keep the feature scarce, so users get value for the additional cost.”
Features like Tinder Boost are a routine part of company growth: they’re a way for dating companies to monetize what were previously free services. We don’t think you can necessarily blame Tinder for trying to keep up with other dating apps and stay afloat, but we’re a little worried that it will unfairly favor wealthy users.
After all, isn’t the search for that special hookup half the fun of Tinder (and dating in general)?
When Tinder launched in 2012, it gained its millions of users because of its brutally-honest and simple approach to dating: swiping left or right, and moving on. There’s something about the swipe system that’s ever-so-alluring to our generation of singles. It’s quick, easy, and let’s you sort through the hundreds of other singles looking for relationships in this crazy busy world.
It also plays into our incredibly human desire to keep looking. Just one more swipe! “The one” could be just around the next corner!
What will our dating lives look like if people can pay their way to the top of our swiping lines? Will it add to the fun of searching through prospective dates or will it make it all the more difficult to find truly compatible matches?
We’ll just have to keep looking to find out.