In a world where we’re able to order virtually anything through an app and get it delivered within hours, it’s no surprise online dating was one of the first truly remarkable things that the internet provided in terms of furthering our convenience. However, like most things that may be convenient and fairly simple, online dating is killing the ancient art of making personal connections.
Apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Grindr and dating sites like OkCupid and Match.com have become something of mammoths in the dating world, creating their own separate cultures based around dating and forming relationships. For instance, on Tinder, potential matches are simply swiped away based on trivial pictures; while on Match.com, one’s hopes and dreams are judged on a single glance at his or her 500 characters-or-less personal bio. Each dating app, new and old, is aimed at various crowds and publics, singling out those that think and act exactly the same while frightening anyone who dares attempt to understand and thrive in the limited space.
Speaking from personal experience, dating in the real world can be terrifying and has morphed into something of a harrowing venture that seems to be solely taken on by poor unsuspecting loners. There was a time where it was unheard of for anyone to actually meet online friends or crushes offline, but the fact stands that it’s truly bizarre to approach an individual and utter some sort of greeting that will let them know your life goals and long-term ambitions in an impressive way. Some of us are lucky if we aren’t immediately dismissed because of unfavorable facial or body features. These are the issues that online dating has introduced to dating culture, and sadly these issues will become the norm if they aren’t already.
Much like reading online articles and abridged versions of literature, Tinder has made us less attentive and more objective when it comes to dating. Courting a potential loved one has become a thing of the past simply because we want to skip the awkward, raw, emotional steps that naturally develop within a relationship. In fact, it’s arguable that we have become afraid of these awkward get-to-know sections of a relationship and would rather skip this step—I know I wish I could. We’re so completely caught up in not embarrassing ourselves that we’d rather search for a pretty face online and hope that this will be the one you can bring home to mom. That need for convenience, rather than desire to pursue a romance, has completely consumed us.
A few past and current users of dating apps offered a few comments on their experiences with dating apps and how they felt about the apps themselves.
“I’d say that online dating has its pros and cons. On one hand, it offers you the ability to cut out the middle man of mustering up the courage to communicate,” Gavin Lyall, a student in New York and ex-user of Tinder, said. “Dating apps have a tendency to make things feel very artificial. Communication through a screen is incomparable to actual human contact.”
“I’ve had many relationships because of dating apps. None of them were longer than 3 months,” Lyall said. “I will say that I may not have dated one or two of the men that I did, if I’d met them in person as opposed to online, which I have to say is the biggest drawback for any online dating app.”
“I think that online dating is the way to go now-a-days so I think I’m all in for it, but I really just want to meet someone in person,” Kathryn Verplaetse, a Southern Miss student and semi-user of Tinder, said. “With online dating, I don’t think people look for a relationship.”
Despite the negatives aspects of online dating, there are several advantages that come with being able to conveniently meet others if done properly. Imagine being a college graduate, just settling into a new career and location while also desperately attempting to move out of your best friend’s apartment. Apps that allow you to meet friends, rather than possible romantic partners may be more beneficial, considering the pressure to make a great first impression is essentially gone. Apps that allow people to meet in groups can work wonders in terms of networking.
There’s also the aspect of meeting people you’d never have met otherwise. Love stories have obviously sprung about in the decade of online dating, and it’s only thanks to a connection made online that these couples were able to make that chance encounter that so few are able to enjoy.
“Living in New York City, you find a great many people that you just wouldn’t while walking on the streets or taking the train,” Lyall said. “Many members of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t socialized when it comes to relationship, all things considered. Dating apps are a very safe way for members of a marginalized community to feel safe, by creating something of a digital shield against discriminatory individuals.”
“My best friend met her fiancé on Tinder, and I think it’s a great way to see who is around you,” Verplaetse added.
The verdict: Though romance may be an aspect left in the past, love continues to be in full bloom. Apps can help begin conversations and introduce you to new people, but don’t expect anything more than surface level attraction unless you’re willing to dig through the mounds of pointless, effortless dates. Swiping right on a picture can definitely be a great icebreaker, but don’t give up on noisy, crowded bars and making a fateful encounter in a bookstore. Finding the one willing to suffer through awkward hand-touching and painful goodbyes will be worth the inconvenience.