The superficiality of Tinder profiles has made the app more of a sex generator than a genuine matchmaking platform. Tinder doesn’t prompt its users to reflect on the nature of love or partnership or their own personalities; many profiles on the platform are sparse, offering a few photos, self-deprecating humor, and perhaps a thinly veiled DTF. Some young people, frustrated by the meaningless hookups, have been driven off “frictionless” dating apps and onto old-school dating sites, such as OKCupid and Match, where there’s more space to show who you really are.
On Tinder, Swipe Night is meant to shake up expectations. Yes, you’re still going to swipe right on the hot people. But once you match, there’s already a shared experience to talk about. Wait, you might ask, did you really choose that? How did you end up there? “We want people to bond over not just the individual questions, or which decisions you made as you engaged with the adventure, but more broadly to share that experience,” Seidman says. “Those shared experiences are fewer and farther between in our world, and they’re special when they work.”
Swipe Night episodes will air on each Sunday in October from 6 pm until midnight, when Tinder says it sees a surge in activity. Each one will last about five minutes and end with a fresh match queue. But you won’t just be paired with your dystopian doppelgängers. “We’ll look at the choices you’ve made and match you with a mix of people, some of whom have made the same choices, some of whom have made different choices,” Mehta says. The new matching algorithm will be layered on top of pre-existing filters, like preferences for age, gender, and location. (Alas, the person who may be your best match in the apocalypse may still be a few inches too short.)
Unlike, say, Netflix’s Bandersnatch, Tinder won’t give you any do-overs. You can’t go back once you make a choice, and you’ll never see how a different choice could’ve led to a different ending. So if you want to find out what happened if you’d chosen differently, you have to ask someone else. Like a good wingman, Tinder gives you the perfect opening line.
Love at First Swipe
While Swipe Night is for everyone, it’s designed specifically with the college-aged set in mind. Tinder’s users have always been young—after a while, people find partners and get married or simply grow out of the hookup economy. But the 18-year-olds on the app today aren’t the same as the ones who joined Tinder when it first launched. About half of Tinder’s user base now belongs to Gen Z, and that number is only growing.
To keep up with them, some Tinder employees specifically study this demographic. “It’s called the Z Team,” Seidman says. “It’s a cross-functional team of product managers, engineers, marketers, and user insight people who are specifically focused on how today’s 18-, 19-, 20-, and 21-year-olds, as they join Tinder, are experiencing not just the app but the entirety of their digital social life.”
One takeaway: The youth love content. This is the generation of YouTube and TikTok, a group of young people fluent in the art of “sliding into DMs” and sharing their lives via video. “We’ve been very influenced by the massive macro-trend of the internet being visual,” Seidman says.
To make Swipe Night more authentic-feeling, Tinder hired Karena Evans, the 23-year-old best known for directing several of Drake’s music videos, to helm the project. The Z Team also thought the apocalyptic storyline would resonate with younger users—presumably because they are already saddled with broken politics, climate change, and active-shooter drills in school.