With social media becoming a seemingly inescapable aspect of modern life, it is hardly surprising that smart phone technology has come to the forefront as a main avenue for modern love. Dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Grindr allow users to partake in speed-dating from the comfort of their devices. Users set a radius and age bracket, and then are free to swipe to their hearts desires and hopefully find a worthy match.
This innovation has become a simple and relatively foolproof method of connecting with potential partners. No need to wait around, scoping out locals at a random bar on vacation when dating apps allow you to preview nearby bachelors and handpick a date for the night. Dating apps eliminate a great deal of small talk and even facilitate easy conversation starters by showing your mutual interests and mutual friends. Tinder in particular allows users to connect their Spotify and Instagram accounts, allowing for a more comprehensive look into a match’s life.
However, one of the main arguments against dating apps is the double-edged sword of matching based on physical attraction. Most users swipe primarily on appearance, and then look at mutual interests as something of a bonus and jumping-off point for conversations. The perceived superficiality of apps such as Tinder and Bumble lead to frequent discrepancies between users. Many view it as a hook-up app, while other users enjoy it as a free and efficient dating service. Communication is key, especially in preliminary messaging. Users must first identify whether or not they are seeking the same kind of relationship, Horror stories abound of users in search of a relationship meeting up with a match interested in just a one night stand. Users also must establish whether or not the connection is worth pursuing in a real life meet-up- if the match is real. One of the greatest threats facing dating app users is falling prey to a "catfish", an online profile run by an individual who assumes a false identity using fake pictures. The virtual phenomenon can cause many users to doubt or even put off finally meeting a match. The breakage of trust is often if not always irreparable regardless of how strong the virtual connection might have been. Even simply using editing picture in a profile and looking less attractive in real life can be an inevitable turn-off and deterrent.
For users less interested in game-like swipe apps, there are several options that do not rely solely on physicality. Plenty of Fish utilizes something called a Chemistry Test while OKCupid has a questionnaire to ensure that all users have the best chance of finding a successful, lasting connection. Similarly, more timid male users who don’t want to message first can use Bumble, which shifts the paradigm of an expectancy for men to make the first move. For swipers who are not straight, dating apps can be a welcome relief from awkward interactions by allowing users to fully claim their sexual identities and meet others seeking someone just like them.
There is some kind of dating app for every aspect of dating, whether it be a hook-up or long term relationship, yet both the greatest strength and weakness of dating apps is this plenitude of options. Users are constantly entering a different pool of potential matches depending on their radius and age settings. The faces are endless, and therefore the matches and messages can become a daunting list of possibilities. Even if one user has chosen to only carry on a conversation with one match, there is no guarantee that their decision is mutual. Users can converse with an endless number of matches and quickly miss out on one connection just by sheer distraction.
If users can take a break from swiping and messaging and finally focus on one potential partner, they have to take the leap from the screen to real life. Conversations tend to fizzle out the longer back and forth messaging takes place, again leading to more missed connections. Bumble requires matches to message back within 24 hours or else the match will disappear altogether, thus requiring users to seize the moment.
But perhaps the biggest issue relating to dating apps is this idea of seizing the moment. It’s not unusual to see someone swiping away on their phones in public while missing out on all the real time connections they could be making. Users should swipe with discretion, and stay cognizant of the possibilities both online and in real life.