Good news for people who really want to swipe right or left on things but aren’t seeking romance: there’s a Tinder-esque option for you no matter what it is you’re looking to find. (Think Tinder for dog lovers, Tinder for dogs, Tinder for finding friends, Tinder for finding people nearby who have the same very specific music taste as you.) Now you can also enjoy the same gamification-of-people by playing virtual Yenta and setting up your friends, as Esquire reports, or swiping right on your next business connection, according to Wired.
For people who don’t want a relationship—or are already in one—but are feeling Tinder FOMO, there’s Hinge Matchmaker. In a piece for Esquire, Luke O’Neill writes about the new app, an offshoot of the dating app Hinge that uses your Facebook network to set you up with friends of friends. (Because of course, friends of friends must make for better dating prospects on the basis that they aren’t total strangers.)
Hinge Matchmaker is a separate app that will show you—the person who doesn’t want to go on a date—a list of your friends who are already on Hinge, allowing you to suggest them as matches to one another. You can even send a fun message like “you both love books! How could this go wrong?”
People love to meddle in other people’s dating lives, O’Neil writes. But the new app also quenches what O’Neil aptly coins as “secondhand thirst”—the desire that coupled-up people have to swipe on others, something that might not have been available the last time they were single. “We try to make our entire user experience as much like real life as possible—that’s what differentiates Hinge from other dating apps,” Tim MacGougan, VP of Product at Hinge, told Esquire. He adds that using Hinge Matchmaker “lets you suggest the match in a low-pressure way that isn’t awkward for them to pass on or approve of.”
I’m not totally on board the “this isn’t awkward” train, but I think I’d rather set up my friends with other friends than swipe right on my future business connection via Shapr, a networking app that Alexis Sobel Fitts writes about for Wired. Fitts calls it the “the latest startup promising that the tools popularized by dating apps are the the key to expanding your Rolodex without leaving the office.”
Shapr gives users 15 connections daily (in an attempt to keep people coming back for more each day) that have been selected via “algorithm through matching interests or career success,” Fitts writes, and “like Tinder, it’s users swipe right or left to signal the matches they’re interested in meeting.”
While this isn’t a completely novel idea—LinkedIn is testing the idea of letting you swipe to find a mentor on your phone, for example—it does demonstrate a growing trend of swiping for connections going way beyond romance.
On the one hand, gamification apps based around the dogma of swiping promise to eventually lead to offline meetups. And Hinge Matchmaker, as O’Neil points out, is actually pretty retro: it harkens back to the days when friends and family set you up on dates. And while dating apps lead to a fair amount of ghosting and often times you never end up meeting people that you match with, the basic and beneficial idea is to use technology to help you get offline and find someone you connect with.
Networking apps like Shapr seem to offer a similar ease of use in connecting like-minded people. But while dating has an undercurrent of desire to actually see someone in person, what impulse do you have to go meet your future networking pal? (Think about how many people you’re connected to on LinkedIn that you’ve never actually met.)
Fitts’ notion that the app can be a way to expand “your Rolodex without leaving the office” gets at a central problem with the idea of swiping your way to the C-suite: the idea that we can sit back, put our feet up on our desks (or elbows, if you’re standing) and just twiddle our thumbs (right or left) until the person who can help us get there arrives at our fingertips.
Plus networking—especially events—can already be stressful, sweaty and downright unproductive. Is taking the process online really any better?
This goes to show that more and more of our interactions are going digital when, really, it’s possible that some of them are best left analog.