IE University Survey: Is Instagram The New Tinder?


For those who do not know what Tinder is, it is a dating site to meet people with more than 26 million “matches” per day. It works with the logic of “if someone likes you back, it is a Match”, and to this day, it is a flirting tool for a great part of the young generation. However, many people claim that they use Instagram to flirt as well. For this reason, I decided to contemplate if Instagram is the new Tinder, looking if likes mean a match, and if people actually use it for that purpose.

Before we start, for better understanding, a crush is a person we like and/or we are attracted to.

A survey was conducted to find out IE student’s opinions on this topic. 233 people responded with a fair share of 52.8% from Segovia Campus and 47.2% from Madrid Campus. Taking into consideration that 82.8% of the contestants were aged 17 to 20, I will describe them as “our generation.”

Firstly, it is noticeable that 43.1% had used Tinder before. Hence, the statement that our generation lives in an era of online dating apps can be seen as half true. On the other hand, many turned to new apps such as Instagram.

In last week’s Jordi Évole’s programme Salvados on La Sexta TV, young adults said they felt as “slaves of Instagram,” because if they deleted their account they would feel out of everything. One of the points that were brought up was that Instagram was now used for flirting. Amongst our IE community, the response was this one.

55.9% of students say they do or may use Instagram to flirt. 80% of the IE Community thought that if someone DM’s us, it can be a form of flirting. But, it all depended on what they said, their implications and context.

Some said, “if they text you random answers on stories, they are flirting,” whilst another person considered that,”the same way someone that talks to you face-to-face might be or might be not flirting, on Instagram you must have a deep conversation in order to know if he/she is flirting with you or not.”

So, do people respond to Instagram stories to flirt?

64% of the people said yes or sometimes. That being said, people look others’ Instagram to ensure they are who they say they are, and in a way, “Instagram is now your portfolio for your dating life,” according to NZ Herald lifestyle columnist Lee Sucking.

Looking at how 70% of the people did change somehow their opinions on someone based solely on their Instagram account, that would mean that we not only have to worry about our Social Media presence for future jobs, but we also have to be careful about how that can change how people see us, and ultimately our dating life.

How does Instagram’s dance of digital flirting work?

It’s a cat-and-mouse game. First, there are “deep likes” which are when we like someone’s photo from a long time ago, ideally as an indicator of interest and not because we messed up stalking them.

Drunk in Likes

How much do we really care about what people ‘like’ on Facebook or Instagram? Do we actually pay attention to what we virtually appreciate? Regardless, receiving likes in today’s society is seen as a form of self-worth. A recent study confirmed that the same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are also switched on when we see large numbers of likes (Cosmopolitan).

“It’s a reward cycle, you get a squirt of dopamine every time you get a like or a positive response on Social Media,” explains psychologist Emma Kenny to Cosmopolitan.

Henceforth, these positive reinforcements impact our mood and influence our behavior as we become psychologically dependent on them. It can be seen with Ford’s 2014 Consumer Trend Report, which points out that 62% of adults worldwide report better self-esteem after positive Social Media feedback.

About this topic, I discovered that 52% of people considered likes as a way of flirting.

There is another way people distribute their likes on Instagram. They might consciously not like all the posts from that person, or by the contrary, they might like every single one. This last one, hoping to be noticed.From personal knowledge, there are people who consciously decide when to give a like to someone’s photo. For example, they do not want to be the first ones so they do not seem creepy and desperate, but also do not want to be the last ones to like the photo, because they might feel that they won’t be noticed by the person.
“Instagram is now your portfolio for your dating life,” according to NZ Herald lifestyle columnist Lee Sucking.

Stalking: Yes, you’ve done it.

Select All defines Tind-stagramming as “the act of sneaking into someone’s Instagram DMs after failing to match with them on Tinder.” But normal Instagram or Facebook “stalking” is when we scroll down someone’s page, see their posts, what they like, maybe look up some of their friends and somehow ending up knowing they went to Dubai in 2006.


As mentioned, DMs can be seen as a form of flirting by some. But, 71% of the people think that emojis are indicators of interest. For many, it all depended on context, but this is a compilation of emojis that might mean an interest in flirting.

*Note: not my own choice. If you send or receive these ones and don’t feel reciprocated, blame the people on the survey.*

It is important to remember that people are different when texting and interacting on Social Media. Some might use it for work and to stay connected, responding quickly without barely using emojis. Others are in fact, masters of texting and know what to say, when and how. Henceforth, do not get desperate if someone does not text you emojis, or if someone drowns you with them, it is just how they are.

Thirst traps

Eh? Thirst trap? Yes, it is a thing. This is when we post a photo, Instagram story or any content with the specific intention of eliciting a response from our Insta-crush or someone we are interested in. Many people do not know they actually do it, but some, as said before, are masters of these things.

The Heart response

When using DMs, this “heart” response still confuses people. Some are just oblivious to it and do not give it importance. 44% said they people use it because “they don’t want to left people without responding,” and 20% expressed it was more as if “they are uninterested but don’t want to be rude.”

On the other hand, 36% stated that it does not have a meaning, and 7% said that means the person does not care. Although 55% said that “it depends on who you send it.” As always, everything must be seen in context.

But in reality, does Instagram actually help in dating?

For sure, it can be seen as a virtual safety net that pads the abrasive possibility of hitting on someone and getting rejected. But, when considering if future relationships happen because of Instagram, it is not that clear…

In brief, however you decide to flirt or date, Instagram may help you or may not. There are no clear rules for dating, neither online or in reality. But it is important to remember to treat other people with respect and parity. Online dating and texting are efficient since we are in a fast-paced society, we have our phones all the time and we cannot live without them. Therefore, double-blue-read ticks on WhatsApp, slow replies or lack of emojis/likes could be signs that the person is not interested. But that being said, have fun, give ‘likes’, love, date and do whatever that makes you happy. But don’t lose your time and don’t confuse people!

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