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I grew up with online dating—and lived to tell the tale

Mar. 16, 2017
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My sophomore year I was convinced by some friends to download the Tinder app because they declared it was “fun and exciting.” My sister found her boyfriend on Tinder, so I figured why not try it out—how bad could it be? I found the app itself was easy to use, as you connect to your Facebook and then you pick your Tinder profile pictures from there. The app allows you to either swipe right if you are interested in a person or swipe left if you are not. 

I began the online dating adventure with a couple of swipes and then put my phone away. A few hours later, I started to get notifications on my phone telling me I had matched with people. I was  excited since I was still figuring out the app. But the first conversation I had with a match was traumatizing. This guy messaged me, saying, “You have nice breasts and I would like to grasp them how is your day going?” When I did not respond, he messaged me again: “Talk to me I love you.” How romantic. Tinder was going great for me so far. 

I tried to keep an open mind, but the thirst was too real. Every other guy I matched with would send me some kind of grimy or cringeworthy message that I did not even know how to respond to.  

Unlike me, there are people out there who have had success on online dating apps. In 2012, a study at Stanford University reported that relationships that began online were no different in quality or strength from those that start by meeting in person. And online dating apps have some benefits: they widen up the dating pool, and they give you the opportunity to meet people you may have never met otherwise. The Association for Psychological Science published an article that argued, “In short, the potential of online dating to improve the process of finding and securing a satisfying, committed romantic relationship is great.”

Dating apps can be a useful and positive tool that can enhance your dating or sex life, but they can also be addicting as they offer instant gratification. Natasha Dow Schül, a cultural anthropologist, compares gamified dating apps to slot machines: “The parallels are in the way experience is formatted. . . If you don’t know what you’re going to get and when, then that brings about the most perseverating kinds of behavior, which are really the most addictive. . .there is a kind of release of sorts when you get a reward: a jackpot, a ding-ding-ding, a match.” 

People are usually swiping based on appearance, so matching with someone in the swipe of a finger creates instant gratification that has the ability to make you momentarily feel good about yourself. Vanity Fair called it the Dawn of the "Dating Apocalypse", which I believe is a drastic claim.  It can be addicting but it isn’t the end of the dating world.

For some, apps like Tinder can be a great tool for dating, but for others it is just an addictive entertainment source to pass time or procrastinate studying for that final you have tomorrow. However you use the app, remember to Tinder in moderation, as it can be highly distracting—but then again, so is Netflix. We all have our vices.