This is the second of a three-part series solely focused on the effects of technology on human communication and social interactions, specifically on younger generations of people and students. This article will focus primarily on the technological impact of current relationships and the social implications of the emerging realm of online dating. The previous article in this series described the current trends between technology and communication and explored the ways in which technology impacts every one of us, every single day. The last article in this series will analyze technology’s impact on the job market and social media’s role in the hiring process. If you have any questions or comments on this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September 2015, “Vanity Fair” writer Nancy Jo Sales associated dating platforms like Tinder and Grindr to a “Dating Apocalypse,” a place where the hookup culture and a change in traditional sexual culture runs rampant through a generation of millennials seeking potential partners from behind a screen.
Although “apocalypse” might be a strong word to sum up this ever-growing social change, the dating scene has undoubtedly been altered, be it for better or worse, by a culture of single people swiping instead of searching for their potential partners.
It is no surprise that with continuous rises in technology and the interconnectivity of the world that dating platforms and websites have surfaced and become staples to the new-age way of meeting new people.
Starting with the birth of the Internet in the early 1990s, social media sites like Facebook, Myspace, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Twitter have successfully changed the way at least one-fourth of the current world population communicates. According to statista.com, this number is expected to grow to one-third of the world population by the beginning of 2018.
Intertwined between these social media websites, dating websites also emerged into the Internet culture, providing singles with a new way of meeting a broader range of potential partners.
Developing around the same time as social media platforms, traditional dating sites like Match.com, Kiss.com, eharmony.com and Plenty of Fish (pof.com) set the stage for the swiping culture we familiarize ourselves with today.
“Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about a hundred years, has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship,” Sales states in her article.
“[T]he lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in ‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998) seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today.”
For those unfamiliar with trending modern dating applications, most of them operate based on one central idea: location.
Rather than asking you to fill out a profile and matching you based on personality and compatibility like traditional dating websites do, apps like Grindr, Tinder, Bumble and Hinge use a “like”-based system to rate its users and their current activity on the app, with respect to the user’s primary location.
Users initially create a profile that displays basic information and a picture, which is then used to find potential matches. Then, other singles using the app can view profiles of other users in their geographic locations, swiping one way if they like what they see and swiping the other if they are not interested. The profiles that are liked are then connected, and users can then begin to chat with those they took an interest in.
According to statista.com, 48 percent of the Tinder users in the United States, as of June 2015, fell in the 18-to-24-year-old age group. Although this statistic only accounts for Tinder’s usage specifically, the median ages of dating app users fluctuates throughout the millennial range.
The millennial age range includes current college students and beyond, bringing the “dating apocalypse” to college campuses and larger social institutions.
Pennsylvania State University Worthington junior Jessica Yachwak frequently uses Bumble as a method to meet new people.
“I met two guys that I started talking to on Bumble,” she said. “I talked to them each before I met them in person. I think there’s less pressure around starting a conversation when you’re not face to face with them. It’s a good way to meet people if you have a busy lifestyle.”
Here at Elizabethtown College, the dating scene is no exception to the dating and social scenes across the world. Fifth-year engineering student Nicholas Stratton has had experience using dating apps while attending Etown.
“I feel like apps like Tinder have impacted my social life and my college experience, as I feel more connected to more people,” Stratton said. “For me, since I can be pretty shy, it is beneficial to find common ground among people around me and it makes it easier to talk and connect and make friends. While the goal is typically to find a deeper connection than that, it is still impactful on how I conduct myself around others at the College.”
Although the “Dating Apocalyspe” might be an extreme view of the changing social structure of today’s dating world, Sales is not wrong in suggesting that the traditional courtship culture has and is continuing to evolve into a matter of convenience rather than pure interest.
“People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, but now Internet meeting is surpassing every other form,” Sales states in her article. “Can men and women ever find true intimacy in a world where communication is mediated by screens; or trust, when they know their partner has an array of other, easily accessible options?” Unfortunately, this answer is far from being answered.