Finding love in the internet era should be easy, right? There are simple to use and free apps, you can create a profile in a minute, upload a photo and voilà! Your prince/princess is just a few swipes away from you. At least, that’s what we are supposed to believe, according to a $2.7-billion-a-year industry. But, can matters of the heart translate into algorithms?
Bumble, Blendr, and Tinder offer a chance to filter your interests, so instead of bar hopping, or relying on destiny or your friends, you get to meet a proper mate with similar interests and experiences. However, we all know that people lie on the internet. That’s our nature. Do we even need dating apps with all the social media networks? How safe is dating in the internet era? Falling in love is a chemical reaction, but what if there’s nothing there? Or worse, what if we started settling just because our partner looks good on paper, or in this case, on the dating app?
Some might argue they found the love of their life on the app, and that isn’t impossible. Others experienced real horror stories, so it’s pretty clear that we almost exclusively hear only really positive or extremely negative stories. The reality is that most dates are rather unfortunate. People do not click; they give false statements, use generic messages to gain talking points, and most of us look nothing like our social media pictures.
And there’s another issue: too many alternatives. It’s like playing a video game: you are going through levels, they are getting harder, yet you can’t stop playing. It is time-consuming, but you cannot wait to finish it. And then, you feel empty again, so you play another game. There is such a thing as too many choices. Social scientists have identified what is referred to as a “paradox of choice.”
The reality is that the majority of heterosexual couples still meet the old fashioned way: at work or during a night out. The only upside of the dating apps is that over 70% of LGBTQI relationships do start on them. Well, starting a relationship isn’t as important as a relationship itself, but let’s leave it at that.
The New York Times’ Modern Love columnist Daniel Jones pointed this out: “We bring science and technology to it— but what I like about love is that none of that ever seems to work.” Opening up to a total stranger online is scarier than doing it in real life. As if being vulnerable isn’t frightening as it is, doing it without looking someone in the eyes raises the fear of rejection. How can you look for romance while you are already in such a negative state of mind? Professionals agree that there are many downsides to online dating. One of the most recent studies showed singles suffering from loneliness and social anxiety are more likely to start compulsively using dating apps.
What are we supposed to do? It is up to you and you only. But if you are using a dating app to start a relationship, be honest and open. Be yourself; otherwise, what’s the point of swiping and typing endless messages?