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Ten Days on Tinder

Visualizing how online dating feels like

I went on Tinder and swiped right to everyone. I took a screenshot of every profile, and stopped when I reached Tinder's daily limit of 100 profiles. I then merged the screenshots in Photoshop with a simple blend mode to generate a single image. I repeated this process for 10 days. I ended up with a series of 10 images, amounting to 1000 people.

CONTEXT AND CHALLENGE

I took part in a London exhibition, about "Love in 2016". The widespread adoption of Tinder seemed to be a major cultural change about the way we love, as I could tell from the Times’ Modern Love column, Dan Savage’s podcasts and my friends and I.

I thought of an Harvard Business Review article arguing that successful brands had to figure out the orthodoxy about their product category, and then challenge it. For example, Dove figured out that the dictature of the perfect body was the orthodoxy of its category. It then challenged it by urging its customers so stop worrying about it. I identified two orthodoxies about online dating: “I can meet so many people” and “People treat each other like meat”.

Still, some users had an opinion that felt in the middle, consequently challenging the aforementioned orthodoxies: “At first, the possibilities of the app are exciting. Yet, the more one gets caught into the overflowing stream of new relationships, the more a feeling of confusion and disorientation takes over.

REFINING THE IDEA

I started to experiment by illustrating user stories that Tinder published on its Facebook page

I followed with a lo-fi version of Tinder: I made 100 paper cards, like Tinder’s daily limit of the profiles one can like

Those cards looked like layers in Photoshop, layers I could play with. I threw 100 images in the software and experimented. When applying the "Difference" blending mode to all layers, it produced results that resonated with my point. The generated images were colorful and busy ( = “we were excited by the possibilities of the app”), but also dizzying and psychedelic ( = “a feeling of confusion and disorientation takes over”).

MAKING A SERIES

I downloaded Tinder and swiped right to everyone while taking a screenshot per profile. I did it for 10 days because it equaled 1000 profiles of human beings I could potentially meet with. Beyond the assonance of Ten/Tinder, this dizzying number reinforced my point. Before the exhibition, I sent the 10 images to media like Wired or Fast Company, who wrote articles about it.

CONSIDERATIONS AND LEARNINGS

A spin-off would be to average out the faces, so as to visualize my actual preferences. This would require to screenshot only the people I am interested in. Besides, the data set’s diversity (portraits/non-portraits, shooting angles, facial features) might be challenging.