Tinderization

Swiping right time after time, users can pick so many options that they don't actually have to make a choice, the authors explain.

How do we foster deep commitment to God in the Tinder age?

Intended to *Provoke* …

Check out this blog-post, “Is TINDER Changing the Way We Think?” here.

Have you heard of “Tinderization“?

Long story short, we’re each deeply formed by the medium of social media. Through facebook, instagram and twitter, we have become accustomed to simplifying everything down to binary decisions: either/or, yes/no, like/dislike. Most recently, Tinder has personalised and sexualised this kind of erotic decision making, applying it to our neighbour: interested/disinterested, sexy/ugly, intriguing/repulsive.

I touched on this some time ago in a blog post at WonderingFair, called “A Label I’m Learning to Embrace“. Okay, I now own a mobile phone … so perhaps I can no longer be labelled a “luddite”. The point remains, however, that the medium shapes the message. The technology and platforms we frequent cultivate practices, even habits, that can form or deform, magnify or mutilate the image of God in us. (See also the “Unplugged” apologetics talk Logos did on this for more insight.)

So, two questions: (1) How is this happening?; and (2) Why does it matter? … Let’s start with the ‘how’.

(1) I discovered a similar phenomenon in my Masters
thesis on “The Thinking Teen“. Many social commentators were suggesting that teens weren’t interested in logic or reason, and had totally bought into postmodernISM as an ideology … that there is no truth, and any such claims are merely a grab for power. …

What I discovered, however, was that adolescent relativism was less the result of young people adopting the rarified deconstructionist rhetoric of French philosophers; rather, it was postmodernITY: being overwhelmed by a plurality of options with no clear criteria to wisely choose between alternatives.

Technology exacerbates the problem with information overload. We end up applying rapid filtering mechanisms to sort through the options, going with what’s most novel and superficially appealing/fleshly rather than what’s true, good and beautiful.

(2) Then, *so what*? Well, it’s a big enough issue that people are hooking up randomly in spontaneous sexual encounters, and making pivotal life decisions with a simple rubric of yes or no. Judgement aside, these behaviours are not without serious consequence. But the real cost comes in the long-run.  …

A low-commitment high-novelty filter for choosing in personal relationships is a massive challenge to the stability of unions such as family, marriage, and other communities such as workplace, clubs and church. And if eros trumps agape on a regular basis, what does this mean for how individuals in our culture receive the relatively un-sexy call to take up one’s cross and lay down one’s agendered/self-centred life to follow Christ? Who will swipe right on this one?

Back to the opening question, then. “How do we foster deep commitment to God in the Tinder age?

I could go into the implications for sharing the gospel … and challenge our seeker-sensitive watering down and sexing up of Jesus to secure a quick spiritual hook-up. (Forgive my crass summary, here, but this is how it seems to me … good news without repentance is cheap and ineffectual “grace”. For more on this, see the Malyon Course, “Principles of Evangelism” here, especially Module 2 “Good News About the Gospel” and Module 5 on “Culture and Contextualisation”. See also the Lausanne Occasional Papers #27 “Modern, Postmodern & Christian” and #31 “The Uniqueness of Christ in a Postmodern World …“)

Instead, I’ll turn my attention church-ward. In this context, sure, critical world-view thinking has a role. But the deeper need is habitus … forming a community of character by rich practices of delayed gratification and judgement so that our underlying filters change and we habitually/instinctively choose the good.

I’m speaking of cultivating character and virtues such as patience and self-control. Unless the church in its inner core can resist Tinderization and desire a different way, we have no hope to offer our culture which drifts with the latest cyber-wave. (For more on this, you might check out James Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom.)

Keen to hear your own reflections on this question. What does it mean in your context. Is there something in this trend we can affirm, that offers a bridge between church and the world? How has this binary thinking and superficial commitment impacted both your Christian community, and witness to those in our post-Christendom society?

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