Billy Ingle contributed to this article.
Two Texas Tech students, Kalie Aaron and Aaron Thompson, both love their Red Raiders, being outdoors, and each other. They have been engaged for over a year, but agreed to not tie the knot until they finish college. If it was not for mobile app Tinder, they may have never met.
The app, available on the App Store and Google Play, is like a game. After signing up or linking your Facebook, you are shown pictures of people of the gender you prefer. They can also type a short description, or bio, of themselves. If you like what you see, you swipe right. If not, you swipe left.
“We talk about that often,” Kalie said. “Could you imagine if we swiped left and completely ignored it? It’s crazy to think about.”
You are able to chat with someone if you have both swiped right, leading to opportunities to meet up. According to the App Store, over 10 billion matches have been made.
It took Kalie and Aaron a few conversations before they got serious about meeting each other.
“He was being sketchy, wanting me to meet him at like midnight on some golf range. I said no,” Kalie said.
“We were going hunting on the golf course at midnight, nothing too serious,” Aaron said.
Eventually, they agreed to meet at a cowboy church near Aaron’s home that he had attended during high school. After Googling it and deciding it was a good first meeting place, Kalie drove an hour to meet him. It went well, and they hung out for the next two days.
But like many Tinder users, they were not looking to get married when using the app. Kalie had recently moved from San Antonio to Forth Worth to live with her sister and used Tinder to meet new people. Aaron had just gotten back to town from basic training, and said he used the app often during his freshman year.
“You don’t go on Tinder thinking you’re going to meet your future boyfriend, husband,” Kalie said. “That doesn’t happen.”
In a poll by The Hub@TTU of 73 people who had used Tinder before, more than 60 percent of respondents had “hooked up” with someone they had met through Tinder before.
Jessica James, a mass communications professor at Texas State University, wrote her master’s thesis over Tinder and mobile dating applications.
“Men that are a little more obvious with their intentions and don’t really try to hide the fact they are looking for casual sex,” James said. “When a person has an extended bio it is more indicative they are serious, versus a person who has a series of shirtless selfies throwing up the peace sign in front of their Mercedes.”
James said gender and age are a key aspect when determining the intended use of the users. She said typically males ages 18-24 use the app to find short-term casual dates, whereas younger women tend to use the application to find a serious relationship.
James said when a person gets a notification or message, it can send a jolt of dopamine through the body. But Tinder experiences are not always as positive as Kalie and Aaron’s.
Maddie Castro, a media strategies major, said she first used Tinder her sophomore year in college. She said her friends were the reason she knew about and downloaded the app.
“When I went to meet this guy from Tinder I went into it pretty opened minded, because it is Tinder and you never know what you are going to get,” Castro said. “He seemed pretty normal talking through Tinder, but in person he was extremely awkward and made me nervous.”
Castro said guys on Tinder would send her all kinds of pick-up lines. She said if they were funny to her she would reply to them, but she said she would often get very cheesy or even vulgar pick-up lines that she would not respond to.
“I deleted the app because I knew I was not going to find the love of my life on Tinder,” Castro said. “There was no point keeping the app and hooking up with random guys, that is really dumb.”
Aaron said Kalie looked even prettier in person than she did in her pictures on Tinder, but some people try to present themselves as more attractive or someone completely different than who they really are. This is typically called being a “Catfish” after a film and MTV show of the same name.
Keaton Taylor, a sports management major, said he first downloaded Tinder when he was a freshman in college.
“I was talking to this girl on Tinder and she looked good and seemed cool, so we decided to hang out at her house,” Taylor said. “She was obviously ashamed of some of the weight she had put on, because her pictures on Tinder showed her as a freshman, but she looked like a fifth year senior.”
Taylor said he thinks it is natural for people to want to put themselves in the best light. He said if a person is ashamed of something about themselves they are more likely to lie about it, or just not mention it and hope it goes unnoticed.
Taylor said there were multiple reasons why he deleted Tinder. He said he remembers waking up and looking at drunk messages he sent on Tinder, and he just got tired of that phase he was going through.
“People still using Tinder need to be cautious when meeting new people,” Taylor said. “There are people on there who are trying to catfish you, or are not exactly who they say they are.”
Although their friends often poke fun at them about it, Kalie and Aaron have yet to tell their parents that they met on Tinder.
“We’ll definitely tell them one day cause it’ll be a funny story,” Kalie said. “But that’s not something we want to say, ‘Mom and Dad, I met this guy on a website!'”
They are sure the story will come out before or during their wedding, which is planned for sometime in 2018.
Kalie said she never planned on getting engaged at a young age. Aaron was 20 when he popped the question on their one year anniversary in 2015.
“It just kinda happened,” Aaron said. “I just found the right one.”