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Swipe apps are just another way to meet people

Making new friends can be a daunting prospect, but the new app Hey Vina may make the entire experience a whole lot easier, at least if you are a woman. Newly created by developers in San Francisco, the app has been dubbed ‘Tinder for girl friends’, and aims to help women find other female friends, working along a similar principal to other ‘swipe apps’ which seem to have become a hallmark of our generation.

Millenials have become a prime target for the older generations to vent their frustrations on, and are often accused of being superficial and self-obsessed, of having a short attention span, and of being addicted to social media, but unable to make connections in real life. Apps such as Tinder have only fuelled this representation, and are often depicted the symbol of everything that is wrong with modern society.

To some extent, it is possible to understand where this is coming from. It is very easy to spend a lot of time online, and to not actually see much of your friends in person, but social media has also allowed us to remain in contact with people from our past, and to keep up to date with what our friends are doing.

In reality, very few people completely shun human contact in favour of a screen, and it is a gross exaggeration to assume that all millenials are antisocial. The swipe apps stem from this universalisation of technology, but rather than actively encouraging people to stay inside, they simply offer a new platform for initially meeting people, and often lead to physical encounters and relationships.

Dating apps, like Tinder or Grindr, are often criticised for simply being a way of having casual sex, and encouraging promiscuity amongst young people. Whilst to some extent this may be true, as the Tinder hook-up is a common occurrence, it is not necessarily a bad thing. The apps arguably create an atmosphere of sex positivity, depicting sex as something which you have no need to be ashamed of, but can enjoy without fear of recrimination. This in turn challenges notions of slut-shaming, presenting the idea that it doesn’t matter if people sleep around if they choose to, and women and men are placed on an equal footing. Whilst of course sex remains personal, and everyone’s experiences and desires are different, dating swipe apps simply allow individuals to express themselves as they choose. Nowadays, plenty of long term relationships start on Tinder.

With regards to Hey Vina, it offers an alternative for women who simply want to meet women platonically, as it can often be difficult to make friends, especially in a big city, and especially if you have a busy work schedule. It opens the possibility of encountering new people who you might not otherwise meet. The app recognises the importance of friendship, and in particular seems to promote the value of having a group of female friends: a Taylor Swift style squad, if you will.

It does, however, arguably lend itself too much to a stereotypical view of women just wanting to get together and gossip, and could be seen as unnecessarily gendering friendships. But it also creates a safe environment through which women can meet other women, with the knowledge that both are just seeking a friend.

Swipe apps are often portrayed as the beginning of a slippery slope leading to the death of real friendships and relationships, but the fact of the matter is that they just provide another way of connecting with people. We still go to bars, go to cafes and hang out in person, but in this busy world, why should we criticise people for looking for an easier way to meet others?

Image credit: A and N Photography

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The Student Newspaper 2016