Journalist Nancy Jo Sales has appeared on an episode of the Recode Decode podcast to talk about the gamification of online dating.
In 2015, Sales published a damning article in Vanity Fair which highlighted the relationship between swipe-based dating apps, mainly Tinder, and the rise of hookup culture in the modern world.
She followed the piece up with a HBO-produced documentary that premiered earlier this month. ‘Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age’ investigated how online dating has changed the way people date and the question of whether it has hindered millennials’ ability to form intimate relationships.
TechCrunch reviewed the documentary and concluded that it was obviously very anti-Tinder, saying: “It’s clear you’re expected to delete Tinder and all the other dating apps off your phone and get on with your life.”
Sales denied that the film was based on the three-year-old article, but did acknowledge that it covered the same subject matter.
She said that people were addicted to Tinder, and likened the dating app to an experiment which turned pigeons into gamblers. Psychologist B.F Skinner programmed the birds to gamble on how much food they were going to get, depending on where they pecked.
Sales stated on the Recode Decode podcast: “That’s the whole swiping mechanism. You swipe, you might get a match, you might not. And then you’re just like excited to play the game.”
She continued to accuse the executives running dating apps of not caring about what they were doing to people’s abilities of forming healthy, emotional relationships. Instead, she claimed they only wanted the data from users to help make them more money.
Sales asserted on the podcast: “We are providing valuable data on a pretty consistent basis to people who are making money off of us. We’re laborers, in a sense, to people who don’t really care whether or not we fall in love or get married or whatever. They want our data, they want our money.”
Listen to the full conversation here.