A person looking at the Coffee Meets Bagel dating app on a smartphone in Los Angeles, Feb. 11.
Editor’s note: In this Future View, students discuss how young Americans use dating apps. Next week we’ll ask, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” Students should click here to submit opinions of fewer than 250 words before Jan. 4. The best responses will be published that night.
Dating apps facilitate a change in modern romance that was already in progress. With the ability to swipe left and right, the user seems to have infinite options, and there’s little investment in any one person. The incentive to build a relationship is weak. That is the source of “ghosting,” the not-uncommon phenomenon in which one party breaks off relations without a word by ceasing to respond to messages, presumably because he or she feels little obligation to treat the other decently. Ghosting doesn’t carry a reputational cost when the match was made not by mutual friends but an app. Given the accessibility of an ever-expanding number of fish in the sea, it is easier to move right along.
Students discuss young Americans’ use of online matchmaking services
There’s something quaint about the old-fashioned “meet cute” in real life, which dating apps have pushed to the margins. Sexual hookups are now the beginning of relationships, and more-complex emotions come later, once people pick a favorite from their “roster” of hookups. The ways we have normalized hookup culture have forced people, especially women, to sacrifice their emotional needs for an idea of sexual liberation. This can damage mental health and put women in physical danger as well. We don’t need to be judgmental, but it would help to realize the importance of boundaries, self-restraint, commitment and emotional intimacy.
We rely on technology throughout the more practical parts of our lives. What we never expected, however, is that the spiritual and romantic parts of our lives would be computerized as well.
Our era is consumed with efficiency, and app-based dating matches are a reflection of that. What was once a product of community or coincidence is now a global simulated suggestion. Instead of getting set up by those around us, who often know us better than we know ourselves, our needs and desires are inputs to an algorithmputerization has crawled into our romantic web of thoughts and emotions.
This can be good, so long as we don’t lose sight of the old methods. With a world of information at our fingertips, no one has to be alone with his problems. By sharing experiences, emotions and ideas in the online world, we may find our relationships moving in a healthy direction.
The computer revolution fosters in us an all-or-nothing idea of love. On the one hand, as a scroll through Facebook shows, computerized life highlights engagement rings and ily situations. Carefully selected posts suggest perfect love in people with put-together lives, rather than display the real struggles of would-be lovers.
On the other hand, the computer revolution creates feelings of gloom and loneliness. As a young single woman, I especially notice the somber, darkly humorous memes about singleness that abound in online media, demanding shared grief and hand-wringing. This tech-facilitated commiseration, often couched as self-care to build self-sufficiency and self-esteem, deems companionship and love impossible for some people.
Technology obscures the real middle ground of romance. Love appears either entirely easy and picturesque, or inescapably hopeless and dismal. The result? Genuine human relationships fail to meet expectations, and love dies.
Romance is love with intimacy. Although you can love almost everyone, you can’t have romance with everyone-that hasn’t changed. But how we express love and find romantic partners has changed in the era of computer technology. The staggering number of young Americans using dating apps is an indication that we’re fully into the digital age.
Emotional, physical and psychological needs have always served as the ground for romantic love. Dating apps can be used for preliminary validation in a much simpler way, saving time and other valuable resources. From the details found on a user profile, a fairly quick, provisional decision can be made about suitability. On a datingranking.net local hookup Sioux Falls SD student budget, this is a huge time and money saver, allowing young people to skip over a lot of dates that might not have been aligned with what either party is seeking. It may not be perfect, but in seeking romance and love, it is a step forward.
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