One internet innovation that has changed the way people socialise is social media and the way it has changed the way people communicate, specifically, online dating applications. One example is an app called Tinder. Tinder is a game-changing way of entering the dating world. Especially at the time of writing this, where COVID-19 has impacted the way people socialise, it is a way to keep dating and seek new romances in a world where every person is social distancing. It has transformed the dating culture, it allows people to meet with other people who are looking for relationships specifically.
Online dating, especially in developed countries, accounts for a significant part of initiating a romantic relationship (Aron, 2012). this shows that it is part of a historical movement and change that may permanently change the dating game. It comes with the rise of technology that people seek convenience and technology can provide that. By 2005, online dating was used by 37% of Internet users, by 2007-2009, more romantic relationships were formed online than through other means (Finkel, Eastwick, Karney, Reis & Sprecher, 2012). This has proven that social means will also move with the rise of technology, adapting to new forms of communication. technology has created an easy way to watch movies, grocery shop and socialise, it is not unexpected that it would also create a way to date.
Although there is a stigma on online dating, research has shown that online dating users are continually increasing. Moreover, research has found that there is no difference in fragility between relationships who met online and offline (Rosenfeld & Reuben, 2012). People talk about online and offline dating as though they are separate things. However relationships are started, developed and maintained through an overlap between online and offline communication (Miller et al., 2016). people may meet through mutual friends, but keep contact through social media. One example is long-distance relationships were they may have met offline but have to maintain their relationship and develop it online. This is an example of how social media apps have changed dating culture, people no longer have to be in the same city or country, they could be in two different continents and have a stable relationship.
Tinder is an app developed by Match Group Inc, they have also developed other apps such as Hinge, OkCupid and Bumble. The app is ground-breaking, it has gotten attention from all parts of the world and has consistently upgraded its features to better the program. A consumer’s dating preferences will vary by demographic, geography, culture and even minor things such as hobbies and intention (whether they are looking for a casual or serious relationship). The system goes through people and matches the with people over the value of a potential partner’s traits and partners with similar traits (Hitsch, Hortaçsu & Ariely , 2010). It has created an efficient way to meet people through the comforts of home. Where people have to go out of their way to meet someone and ask for a way to contact them, Tinder allows people to make an instant connection, tailored to one’s preferences. It is an innovative and new way to help people break out of their shell and experience new relationships. People no longer have to go out to meet people, they can get comfortable in their bed and swipe on their phone for potential partners.
The dark side of online dating
Although online dating and social media has created a new innovative way to meet people, it also has negative aspects. Deception is a fairly common thing people come across in everyday life, however, it is amplified in online dating (Epstein, 2007). It is easier to lie without physical cues to keep people honest (Epstein, 2007). This makes it hard to form real and honest relationships as the potential partner may be deceptive about their personal information, thus creating a façade.
Moreover, users may come across people who do not understand social ques and what is acceptable in social situations. There are people on dating apps that act differently on the internet than they would in real situations as they do not have to face the consequences of their actions. Although there is not much research done on this aspect, it is a real thing many users face. It includes the sending of unsolicited pictures, such as lewd pictures and indecent exposure, and rude or inappropriate comments (the links provided are a testament to that) . Luckily, with the rise of technology, Bumble (another online dating app similar to Tinder) is in the process of developing a filter for these issues and it is hoped that this technology will be used across all similar platforms.
Internet dating has some benefits and disadvantages. The ‘digital divide’ if further highlighted by the growth of online dating. It has created further inequality by showing who has the means of obtaining the app, it highlights the inequality in finances and virtual schemas (Sautter, Tippett & Morgan, 2010). Those who cannot afford phones or a stable internet connection will not be able to access these apps. Thus, highlighting the line of inequality and it results in unequal access to technology and knowledge that could improve a person’s life (Sautter, Tippett & Morgan, 2010). This is important to acknowledge as it increases social inequality and creates tension between the different income classes.
Although online dating may decrease the rate of loneliness and invent new ways to communicate for those who find it difficult, the full repercussions of this new method is unclear on the developmental and emotional skills of users (Blue, 2020). More needs to be researched for a longer period of time, as it is still a relatively new concept, to establish these issues. However, online dating is a great new way to establish and form new relationships, romantic and platonic. It had many benefits especially in times of social distancing and it is a fun way to connect with new people in the comfort of homes. It has changed the way people develop and spark new relationships and will continue to change with new developments in technology.
Aron, A. (2012). Commentary: Online Dating: The Current Status—and Beyond. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 1-2. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23484636
Blue, S. (2020). The psychology of modern dating : websites, apps, and relationships . Lexington Books.
Epstein, R. (2007). The Truth about Online Dating. Scientific American Mind, 18(1), 28-35. Retrieved October 24, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24939564
Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 75(1), 3-6
Hitsch, G., Hortaçsu, A., & Ariely, D. (2010). Matching and Sorting in Online Dating. The American Economic Review,100(1), 130-163. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27804924
Miller, D., Costa, E., Haynes, N., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Sinanan, J., Spyer,J., Venkatraman, S., & Wang, X. (2016). How the World Changed Social Media. London: UCL Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1g69z35
Sautter, J., Tippett, R., & Morgan, S. (2010). The Social Demography of Internet Dating in the United States. Social Science Quarterly, 91(2), 554-575.
Rosenfeld, M. J., & Reuben, J. T. (2012). Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary . Palo Alto: American Sociological Review 77(4): 523-547. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42956416