A couple weeks ago, a friend of a friend of a friend was lamenting her Tinder dilemma.
Tinder, an iOS dating app works its charm by allowing individuals within a 50-mile radius who share similar friends and interests of your location, to view a picture of yourself. Depending on whether you and another person find each other mutually attractive, you are then granted access to message each other — all via Facebook networks. With a guesstimated half a million active users and 1.5 billion profiles, its popularity goes without question. Voila — instant hook ups, minimal heartbreak, good times for everyone, correct? Not for this one girl — she and a guy in a class of hers had been Tinder-flirting for weeks, but neither had made a move outside of the virtual world. A classic case of digital limbo.
Welcome to the world of dating in 2013.
Loveflutter is the latest in an onslaught of online dating sites that uses Google’s Knowledge Graph to match up potential dates. A real time graph of data pulled from Facebook, hangout spots, or material provided by the user to match up people based on keywords. Foursquare can even suggest places to meet up. While it has yet to hit the mobile markets, it might give apps such as Tinder or OkCupid a run for their money.
The concept of social media saturating the millennial generation’s concept of dating (in the traditional sense) is one that many discuss and define by a rampant “hook up” culture that isn’t capable of reaping lasting benefits. While Tinder, Loveflutter, and hooking up may be a thing of the present, millennials aren't forgetting the mechanisms of the past. We’re just switching up styles. Fads only blanket the roots of tradition — they don't destroy them.
Millennials are the most insta-connected generation, overdosing on an array of visual stimuli — Facebook photos, Instagram photos, Twitter photos, Tumblr photos on ultra high-res screens. Tablet or cell phone, in the end, one’s flavor of addiction is irrelevant. It makes sense that our mass media preferences would translate into other aspects of our livelihoods — in this case, dating. It would seem we want our romantic forays to mirror texts and tweets — fast with minimal pussyfooting. Do you think I’m hot? You’re into Taekwondo and Bollywood movies? Let’s hit up Starbucks, baby.
Growing up, I was instilled with one too many lectures on stranger danger and the internet. Years ago, online dating had a stigma attached to its name. Now, I can’t go ten minutes without seeing a Christian Mingle commercial when watching the evening news. The rising crop of targeted sites only attests to the initial efficiency of online dating. Not everyone expects to find romance — or do they? Deep down?
Embedded within the atmosphere of a college campus, I have the opportunity to observe effects of such fads firsthand. I cannot begin to count the number of times I've heard friends say, “this isn't serious” or “I’m just doing this for fun.” And you know, some do make an account for hell of it before forgetting all about it in a few day's time. But most dare to meaningfully engage in sad dating apps/sites — they usually end up with a date Friday night.
Which brings us full circle. Just because we’re not making connections face to face as it was B.S.M. (Before Social Media) doesn't mean we’re lacking or losing the ability to connect. Online dating still (surprisingly) leaves plenty of room for seduction, mistakes, disappointment, and success. Online dating still leads to off-line dates and serious relationships for those seeking them. Case in point — another friend of mine met his boyfriend of about three months through Grindr.
Never have I seen him happier.