The tides have changed for virtual dating portals.
The stigma that was once attached to match-making sites is slowly disappearing thanks to smartphone applications, like Tinder, Hot-or-Not, and Hinge, that use Facebook profiles and geographical location information to suggest possible partners for users. In the midst of the current dating app hype, the traditional means of physically meeting people may even be losing its appeal for the teenagers of the 2010s.
However, not all teenagers are optimistic about the trend.
“It’s scary to think that we as humans are beginning to replace the actual, physical process of meeting potential partners in real life with a search bar and a small, almost meaningless description about an individual,” said junior at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) Aaron Revilla in an interview with J Student Reporters.
The device security firm Iovation found that 39 percent of online dating now happens through mobile apps. Additionally, the Pew Research Center tracked a 15 point increase from 2005 to 2013 among those who said that “online dating is a good way to meet people.”
A lot has changed since the 2010 episode of the long-running CBS show The Big Bang Theory, when Sheldon Cooper made this sarcastic greeting upon first meeting a online date in person: “Hello, Amy Farrah Fowler… You’ve been taken in by unsupportable mathematics that were designed to prey on the gullible and the lonely.”
“[Dating apps provide] a bit of a different meetup. When you look at online dating sites, you get the full profile and understand these people’s interest and who they are. When you’re on these dating apps, like Tinder, you only get a very quick overview of people. It’s their photo, their name and their age,” explained Tamara Parliament, an account coordinator at the online marketing firm Click Rain, in an interview with Keloland Television.
Revilla, however, expressed doubts during his interview.
“I don’t want to invalidate any type of relationship, be it romantic or not, simply by the fact that the relationship begun without actual physical contact. However, I still think it’s kind of hard to see who a person truly is by simply viewing an online profile,” he said. “People are not always who they portray themselves to be.”
Others, like GHCHS junior Jenny Lee, lament the “detached” nature of the apps.
“Some students at our school go on this application just for the fun of it,” said Lee to JSR. “Apparently these days, the solution to boring Saturdays is a detached and mobile look-through of single people near you.”
Valencia High junior Julia Kim told JSR that the apps may even be causing a social harm.
“It’s exciting to meet people at parties or other gatherings. But now with this dating app revolution, the excitement is more subdued,” said Kim. “It’s as if the whole process of observing facial expressions, body gestures, tone, face, and everything is replaced by an ‘x’ and a ‘heart’ on dating apps.”
According to the Pew Internet Project’s January 2014 research study related to mobile technology, 56 percent of Americans have a smartphone, and 29 percent of cell phone owners describe their device as something they can’t imagine living without.
This brings into question whether innovations, especially within the mobile world, truly bridge people together or separate them. When people find partners through online databases that only hold some details of the individual, the process itself can undermine the human aspect of dating and finding partners.