Photo Courtesy of Tetra Pak, 1960s

On a cold Friday night in November, being at home by yourself might seem like the most unfair curse. You might wish you could have found someone to cuddle with or you might get frustrated with yourself for not sharing this (potentially) romantic night with your ex. While dealing with either of these options, millennials know that they can do a lot more than their parents who had to stick to being by themselves or had to make the tough decision of getting out of their PJs and meeting some fellow singles at a bar. Millennials know that they can still go to a bar and come back home without having met a single person. They also know that even though they might meet some people, they might not necessarily feel a connection after a two-minute chat. That is why, on a cold Friday night in November, being at home by yourself as a millennial might be quite productive – if you have a dating application at your service.

Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr and many more… A trend that was made popular by the success of Tinder initiated a new culture of swiping left and right. If you have not heard of this trend, then without judging you (for more than a few seconds), we will tell you what swiping left or right means. Essentially, even though their techniques differ, dating apps make sure that you do not spend time with someone that you are not attracted to. This could happen through just looking at their picture and a sentence bio (Tinder) or being matched based on a favorite first date spot of your choice (How About We). All of these applications make sure that you do not waste your precious time with someone that you might not necessarily want to take things to another level. Though this aspect seems like a visionary invention – given millennials do not really have that much time after work and other responsibilities, it makes us prone to dismissive behavior and nonchalance. It makes us think that we are capable of judging people within a few seconds, and that we are right with every single decision we make – because once we swipe someone “no” and pass, we never really see their faces again.

Many argue that dating apps force both sides into thinking romantic and sexual favors should be exchanged once the meeting in-person happens. Vanity Fair even published a controversial article on how men (especially men working in finance and simultaneously live in a big city) are more likely to use dating apps as a source of finding easy and available sex. According to clinical psychologist Wendy Walsh, this could be a result of a core human trait: we love obtaining addictive behavior. Walsh argues that – way back when we lived as cavemen and cavewomen – sex was a scarce commodity since a human being only got the chance to meet 150 people at most. Since then, our brains have been hardwired to see every single sexual interaction as a rare opportunity and perceive sex as a “reward”. To get more of this reward – knowing we can swipe as much as we want – we will go ahead and do it.  We will be addicted to the thrill and maybe lose the meaning on the way. With the rise of dating applications, “too many opportunities” could and do actually diminish our appreciation of sexual connections.

Although Walsh’s argument has an important effect on why Tinder has acquired more success than other more intricate and commitment-focused apps, Brain World Magazine conducted a poll, only to find out that a significant amount of millennials also use these apps to simply meet people. Especially after graduation, people have claimed to have had a hard time meeting new people. Instead of expecting a certain level of commitment or physical intimacy, they want to be able to know who is around them. With or without college, it is an organic process for one to form a social network, and with or without college, it is easier for one to be stuck in a network that does not allow a lot of flexibility. By introducing people to a batch of new faces, these applications do a very good job at expanding social webs.

Does all of this mean that these apps are not good at taking you a step closer to love? Definitely not. There are many couples out there who had the chance to meet each other via dating apps. Some people claim that they went on a few dates and did not wish to pursue a relationship, but some claim they have had considerably nice dates where both parties immediately hit it off. Dating is one of the biggest gambles of human nature, and these apps imitate the same social phenomenon. You might be set up to go on a date – without using an application, and your date can still go very wrong. Instead of scrutinizing the imperfections of this new technological take on socializing, it is important to see it as something that could work for some and could not be that relatable to others.

by Deniz Cam

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