When hearing the words “hookup app,” most people think of Tinder.
People rave about Tinder because it works like a game, mitigates rejection, and matches by mutual attraction. These features have created an app that’s taking the dating world by storm. The rise of apps that cater to hookups has made meeting people online more fun, easy, and socially acceptable. The trend also includes similar apps Grindr, Down, and Pure.
So why are some people opting for anonymous gossip apps to find hook ups instead?
Ellen Huet wrote in Forbes that the anonymous sharing app Secret is on its way to becoming the new Tinder. Secret lets users create posts to be passed on through friends, and friends of friends. The idea is that the most popular “secrets” will make it the farthest, but you can also see posts based on location.
“When someone posts a funny Secret, it can get thousands of likes, but few comments,” Huet wrote. “It’s the open-ended, sexual secrets that end up attracting heated, back-and-forth responses. And the comments are usually more logistical than philosophical: ‘Are you a guy or girl’ and ‘Where you at?'”
These instances are not hard to find. We found several similar posts, comments, and one invitation to chat anonymously on anonyfish.com.
In fact, Huet’s observations matched another anonymous app that’s gained both popularity and attention from investors — Yik Yak.
Yik Yak is targeted mainly toward college students. But we’ve seen similar patterns in Yik Yak posts as well: “Are you a guy or girl?” and “Where are you?”
Nevermind that Yik Yak is not helpful for identifying others or connecting one-on-one, users are still posting about wanting to hook up, to meet someone, or just to find out where everyone else is going that night.
A quick scan of one university’s Yik Yak feed shows that some users are interested in adding a direct messaging feature.
Whisper, another anonymous social app, is more straightforward. On its proximity-based sharing, some posts read like short personal ads.
Whisper posts also lead straight to a chat option to contact users directly, rather than replying to a thread. In an interview with Business Insider, Whisper CEO Michael Heyward said from what he’s seen, this is becoming “very, very frequent.”
However, Heyward said he doesn’t see Whisper replacing or overtaking Tinder. Communication is the primary purpose of these anonymous apps. Dating apps, because they are for meeting new people, work hard to create a sense of safety and accountability.
But it’s also possible that these anonymous apps are providing something Tinder lacks.
Despite Tinder’s popularity, a lot of users still don’t take it too seriously as a hookup app. There’s still stigma and uncertainty around meeting someone from Tinder. Some mobile users might prefer even more anonymity than what Tinder gives them. Facebook pictures, mutual friends, age, and interests can be very identifying.
For the same reason, Tinder might not be the hookup godsend people make it out to be. Just because someone is on Tinder doesn’t mean he or she wants to hook up. Even swiping right is no guarantee. The gamification of dating might be too good; most of my friends like having Tinder just to play the “game.”
For Heyward, the main distinction is the potential anonymous social apps have for honest, open interaction. As user-friendly as Tinder is, there is still a wall between you and your match. People put time and effort into Tinder profiles to seem attractive, funny, interesting.
“You’re connecting with someone on something that’s not quite so superficial,” Heyward said. “It’s based on a thought or feeling or emotion or experience.”
But with anonymous apps, you’re directly responding to what someone already put out there. People admit that they’re lonely, or insecure, or feeling frisky, or have “always wanted to date a middle school teacher,” because there’s no consequence of saying so anonymously. Users can freely express exactly what they want, which removes the barrier that a Tinder profile puts up.
“There’s an inherent closeness being facilitated,” Heyward said.
Whatever the reason, if this is something users are moving toward, it’d be good for Tinder to take notice.