Are you afraid of missing love? The role of fomo within the affordances of Hinge and Tinder
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People move their social and cultural activities to online platforms. These online platforms do not only facilitate but also shape the social acts that occur through those platforms. The platforms’ computer codes and business models reconfigure social norms, but changing social norms also reshape how these platforms operate. Dating apps could be an example of such a place where these computer codes, business models, and changing social norms shape the facilitated sociality. In our online dating culture we would avoid the choice of our partner because of the endless options that online dating provides. Dating apps would cause a fear of missing out while dating. Dating app Hinge’s vision seems not to support a concept of fomo. Noteworthy is that Hinge is owned by the same umbrella company that also owns Tinder. Remarkable is that Tinder’s economic value would rely on the user data that is generated by active user activity. Perhaps active users could be established by stimulating the fear of missing out within Tinder’s features. Which raises the question if Hinge’s affordances really differ from those of Tinder. Therefore this thesis aimed to answer the question what role fomo plays within the affordances of Hinge and Tinder. The walkthrough method, as proposed by media scholars Light, Burgess and Dugua, is used as a structure while analyzing the role of fomo within the affordances of both apps. The walkthrough method took the relevant economic interests of the apps in regard during the first stage; the environment of expected use. During the second stage, the technical walkthrough, an affordance analysis examined the role of fomo within the affordances of Hinge and Tinder. The six affordance mechanisms, as proposed by sociologists Jenny L. Davis and James B. Chouinard, are used as a focus during the affordance analysis. During the first stage of the analysis it was found that only Tinder’s vision seemed to support the concept of fomo. However, it was also found that both Hinge and Tinder manage their monetization through the freemium business model, which suggests that both apps features are shaped by the same economic interests. During the second stage of the analysis it was found that fomo plays a prominent role within several affordances of both Hinge and Tinder. Several affordances seem to relate to fomo as they stimulate the awareness of experiences in an environment from which one is absent, stimulate to avoid the closing of options in potential partners, and stimulate to secure maximum opportunity. Noteworthy is that the role of fomo within the apps’ affordances seems to be different. The role of fomo within Tinder seems to be focused on establishing more options, while the role of fomo within Hinge seems to be focused on establishing the best option. Tinder’s ‘Top Picks’ function and Hinge’s ‘Most Compatible' function display this different role of fomo within the affordances.