Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Thursday, 14 May 2015

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'You Order People Like A Chinese Takeaway' How Tinder's Changed Our Lives

The Debrief: A new documentary takes a look at how dating apps like Tinder have transformed our world

One thing’s for sure. You’ve not got this far in life and never had a go on Tinder. Whether you’re a single or not, Tinder’s become so deeply ingrained in our weird and (sometimes) wonderful millennial lifestyle that even the most happily coupled of couples have probably pinched their mate’s phone ‘just to have a quick go’.

But is it changing our lives for the worse? Now a new documentary is taking a look at how Tinder and dating apps as a whole have affected how we meet people, date and shag.

‘There’s so much choice now,’ says Becky Lomax, producer/director of The Secret World Of Tinder. ‘You can endlessly swipe through potential suitors. It’s almost like commoditised dating. People become commodities and you order them much like you would your Chinese takeaway on a Friday night.’

In the film, we meet Joanna, a young, single mum living in suburban Surrey who’s keen to meet women for a no-strings kind of relationship. Obviously, having two children means she’s not able to head out on a whim and for her, Tinder’s become a godsend.

‘Especially so if you’re living in in an area where it’s very hard to meet people,’ says Becky. ‘And apps have been especially useful for gay people in general. I think it’s a way of connecting with people that’s easier than if you went up to someone on the street.’

Apps have also changed the lives of people with very erm, specific needs. In the film we meet Pete, a man living with his long-term boyfriend, but who likes something a bit different in his sex life; Pete likes ‘puppy play’ which; in a nutshell, involves dressing in leather and acting like a puppy with another person. To do this, Pete uses an app called Recon.

‘It’s for gay men who have specific fetishes,’ explains Becky. ‘There’s something like 16 sub-categories for men who are into leather, maybe uniforms, fighting, wrestling, fisting… whatever their niche fetish is, there’s a category for it. Obviously, Pete the pup couldn’t just go up to someone in the street and say, “Are you into puppy play?” It’s providing him with that outlet.’

One thing that’s important to remember though, is that dating apps do have a darker side. One single(ish) man we meet in the film is making use of an app called Best Secret Folder (he calls it his ‘vault’) that’s currently housing images on his phone of nearly 700 women he’s met online. The woman he’s been on several dates with recently doesn’t know.

‘I think if you’re someone that has the cheating mindset then it certainly gives you the possibility,’ admits Becky. ‘Although if you wanted to play away or cheat then you’d probably find a way to do it anyways, but yes, certainly the presence of the apps have made that an easier possibility.’

Worse though, is the idea that using dating apps may put people in danger. ‘In the film we met Becca, a young single mum,’ says Becky. ‘She naively invited this guy round after having only messaged him on the app and then when he arrived at the house she got a sense of “this doesn’t feel right” and luckily, she’d had the foresight to ask a friend to check up on her so in that instance he was able to help her get rid of the guy.’

So do the apps mean that we’re forgetting about basic safety when it comes to dating? ‘The apps give you a slightly false sense of security because you sign on via Facebook, you see people on there that you know or have mutual friends with and that gives you a sense of security with people that you actually need to interrogate a bit more because you don’t always know who is on the end of the screen and, in some instances, it’s not always a positive outcome.’

The Secret World Of Tinder is on Channel 4, 14 May, 9pm.

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Tags: Tinder, TV We\'re Unashamedly Watching, TV That Matters, TV