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Finding love in Indonesia: Is Tinder the answer?

Jessicha Valentina
Jessicha Valentina

The Jakarta Post

Hong Kong  /  Wed, July 31, 2019  /  03:30 pm

Indonesia can be considered quite conservative when it comes to dating. In the country, premarital sex is viewed as highly unacceptable and adults are expected to get married and have children before they turn 30.

However, finding love in Indonesia is not that easy.

Twenty-seven-year-old Meylisa Agustina is a journalist and beauty blogger. Her work and social circles are dominated by women, which led her to use dating app Tinder to find a potential romantic partner.

“I used Tinder out of necessity. My colleagues are mostly women and I am also a beauty blogger, which is dominated by women. How could I get a boyfriend if my social circle is all female?” she said.

Having used the app for around two years, Meylisa is in a committed relationship with someone she met on the platform.

The same can be said for 30-year-old Hanna Margaretta, who now uses Tinder to meet new friends and, possibly, a husband.

Launched in 2012, Tinder has 4.7 million subscribers. Available in 190 countries and in more than 40 languages, the app gained popularity in Indonesia in 2014.

Online dating is not a foreign idea for Indonesians, especially for the younger generation. According to Tinder, most of its users in Indonesia are millennials.  

Tinder users, such as 35-year-old Jonathan End and 32-year-old AS, installed the app for different purposes.  

Jonathan shared that he previously used Tinder for work. In the beginning, he dated someone he met on the app, but, these days, Jonathan only uses the app to meet new friends.

Meanwhile, AS is in a long-distance marriage and his wife lets him use Tinder to find casual sex partners.

“My [marriage] status is clearly written on my profile,” said AS, adding that he also met married people on Tinder.

Despite the different purposes, Indonesian Tinder users mainly use the app for human connection.

Read also: Tinder gears up for Asia-Pacific market with Tinder Lite

“There are hundreds of millions of users of Tinder in thousands of cities around the world.  An 18-year-old on a college campus in the United States, a 25-year-old in Paris, 30-year-old in Tokyo, the core commonality is the desire for human connection,” said Tinder CEO Elie Seidman during an interview with The Jakarta Post on July 10 in Hong Kong. 

Tinder CEO Elie Seidman during the 2019 Rise Tech conference in Hong Kong on July 10. Tinder CEO Elie Seidman during the 2019 Rise Tech conference in Hong Kong on July 10. (JP/Jessicha Valentina)

Seidman said there was no one Tinder, meaning that each country had its own way of using the app, which was a reflection of the culture.

Tinder East Asia regional director Lyla Seo shared that Indonesian users tended to chat more and longer on the platform compared to users from other countries.

“They love to learn [about] each other and they talk about each other’s interests,” said Seo.  

“We also see that Indonesians use Tinder as they want to and based upon their cultural contexts,” added Seo.

Although online dating makes life easier for some, it might be different for others, especially in a conservative country such as Indonesia.

Meylisa said her family judged her for using the app and her younger sister said she was behaving like a "bad girl" for meeting up with different people every day.

"But no worries, my objective was to find friends and connection,” said Meylisa.  

Meanwhile, Hanna said some people had misused Tinder, which had created a negative perception.

“There are people who look for swingers or friends with benefits [on the platform],” she said, adding that she was comfortable using it as she had learned to differentiate between the “good” and “bad” users.

In response to that, Seidman said the app employed machine learning and artificial intelligence to help identify problems.

Seidman mentioned that Tinder members could report content deemed inappropriate, adding that many people had been banned to ensure users' safety.

With regard to negative perceptions toward online dating, the company recently launched a brand campaign that incorporated digital and outdoor advertising, involving movie theaters in Jakarta and influencers, positioning Tinder as a social discovery app.

Given the fact that today’s young people were used to digital social life, Seidman predicted that more people would consider online dating. (wng)

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Devina Heriyanto contributed to this article

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