They say in love that opposites attract – yet this doesn’t seem to be the case for many Argentines who are members of ‘Tinder K.’
To join these private closed groups on Facebook – which take their name from the famous dating app – you have to match some simple requirements: be single, Peronist, and a follower of former presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The Tinder K groups, which have more than 11,000 followers, were set up after the end of 12 years of Kirchnerite administrations (2003-2015), following the President Mauricio Macri’s win in Argentina’s last election. In them la grieta, the popular Argentine way to refer to the polarised political divide between Macristas and Kirchneristas, has only deepened.
The phenomenon is not new: in the United States there are apps for President Donald Trump’s followers (#donalddaters or TrumpSingles) and Democratic Party supporters (#Liberalhearts).
Little by little the concept has arrived to Latin America. A while back a Brasilian lawyer announced, in the the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, the creation of ‘PTTinderin’. Targeted towards men and women who support the Partido de los Trabajadores (PT, “Workers’ Party”), PTTinder strives to unite couples and support the PT’s jailed historic leader, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who has been behind bars since 7 April, 2018, jailed on corruption charges.
However, experts warn that these “political niches” which appear in social media can be dangerous for society as a whole.
“The exchange of ideas is essential for a democracy, and dating apps with an ideological slant limit the probability of finding a partner who does not validate your ideas,” argues Chelsea Reynolds, an assistant professor of communications at the California State University Fullerton.
“Two decades ago you could fall in love with someone at university, despite having different political views,” she added. “Today that would be nearly impossible.”
According to experts, the social media phenomenon can “encapsulate” people according to their beliefs or ideologies.
“All technology is directed toward creating niches with common denominators in ideological terms,” pointed out Carlos Fara, an Argentine political consultant who specialises in public opinion and electoral campaigns.
“These niches promote the most extreme of positions,” he added.
“This was two years ago,” explains the 35-year-old, who lives in the Patagonia province of Chubut.
The key to joining the groups is to be single. They even have fundraising parties and events, virtual games and public debates about social issues. That’s how “many couples” have got together. “Last year one of them got married,” Estefanía adds.
The groups, which have no monetary incentives, have also been spaces for like-minded Kirchnerites to “resist the four years of Macrismo.”
Save for an electoral tsunami, Argentina will return to Peronist rule in October, with Alberto Fernández the favourite to win the election. Accompanied on the ticket by Fernández de Kirchner, Alberto Fernández outperformed Macri in the August 11 PASO primaries by a shocking 16 points.
Macri’s administration is struggling with high inflation (reaching 30 percent up until August), and an increase in poverty that totalled 35.4 percent of the population in the first half of 2019.