Smartphone dating apps aren’t always taken too seriously. Whether someone is experimenting with “Tinder,” “Grindr,” “Cudlr” or “OkCupid,” there’s the potential for awkwardly meeting matches in real life, leading to nervous eye contact while both people try to find the right words to transition from digital chat to real conversation.
“Thread,” the latest of the popular dating apps, hopes to offer a medium for substantial relationships in cyberspace. While apps like Tinder and Grindr are synonymous with the “hook up” culture, Thread hopes to break through this superficiality.
Thread’s main attraction is that it is only accessible to college students, requiring users to register with a “.edu” email address. While Thread offers a new approach to the fast-growing market of dating apps, the larger question is whether Thread has the potential to surpass the stereotype of online dating and create real relationships in a student population.
The exclusivity of the app doubles as a safety net. Students may particularly be drawn to Thread because of its filtering mechanism, as other dating applications generally draw unwarranted or inappropriate attention from people outside of the University.
The app’s second strategy is limiting the number of potential matches per day to 10. This forces users to take a hard look at their options before saying “yes.” Tinder, on the other hand, offers a quick fix and easy satisfaction to those looking to find mutual attraction.
Beyond filtering by university email address, Thread also plays matchmaker by filtering through interest categories. Thread requires users to choose their top picks for food, classes and general activities. The app highlights three of 15 possible choices for the categories and builds upon a user’s profile with this additional information. Geared toward UT students, these categories offer up places such as Clay Pit and Barton Springs as possible preferences. Campus life is defined for each user through these categories, developing individual profiles beyond just one uploaded photo.
Like Tinder, Thread accesses the latest profile pictures from Facebook. Underneath the photo and first name, there is space for a brief personality description. While Tinder’s limit of 500 characters can allow for cheesy quotes, a lengthy life story or a description of any romantic intentions, Thread’s 70-character limit appears to be a setback. Most personality descriptions are stiflingly short and leave little room for any sort of accurate self-expression. Reduced to 70 characters, people tend to cop out with descriptions like, “Idk,” “Hook ‘em” and “Netflix is life.” Thread backtracks in its intention to create an online dating space completely free of stigma by restricting a
Flaunting its tagline, “Stay classy,” Thread may not live up to its expectation in creating an ideal space for online dating among college students. Ultimately, though, Thread is the closest median between a stigmatized app like Tinder and a professional online dating service like Match.com.