Millennials have grown up in a world of social media and personal data sharing (Henderson 2014). Due to the growth of social media, online dating is seen more positively. As of 2013, 10 percent of Americans have admitted to using online dating sites. It is most frequently used by people in their mid-20s through their mid-40s (Smith et al 2013). This trend has led to claims that traditional courtship is over. Instead, today’s twentysomethings are using technology to mediate their personal and dating lives (Henderson 2014). Social media is something we have become comfortable with. Online dating does not have to be an exception.
There are a number of dating sites and apps that have become very popular for millennials including Tinder, OkCupid, and Match.com. Tinder, in particular has become a conversation starter. Tinder is a smartphone app that is strictly based on pictures. Upon viewing someone’s pictures, users swipe right if they are attracted to the person, or swipe left if they are not. They are then notified when another user has also “swiped right” to indicate an attraction. There are no algorithms or profiles associated with the app. It is strictly based on looks. This dating app claims that, “what someone wears, along with other visual clues given off in photographs, can tell a thousand different things about them” and that is what they believe is the key to online dating (Bilton 2014). Often times, physical appearance is the first thing one notices about someone. Pictures do the same thing; the physical element is just missing.
Dating profiles and pictures on dating sites are changing the concept of the first date. Someone’s background, education and interests are often discussed on a first date, but these things can now be discovered with a few clicks on their profile (Williams 2013). Likewise, it can lead to misconceptions and judgment before the opportunity presents itself to get to know a person.
These apps do not just alter the first date experience, but extend to other elements traditionally associated with dating and asking someone out more generally. Traditional courtship requires “picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date – required courage, strategic planning and considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings)” (Williams 2013). Our generation doesn’t know the mechanics of traditional dating. As a 25 year old, I am surprised at the number people who have never been on a traditional date. Online dating takes out the nerves and fear of rejection. Rejection isn’t as harsh when it comes from someone you don’t know; it’s just a profile. My generation has moved into a new, and in many ways, less personal way of dating. It may not be what many consider to be traditional but communication, culture and technology are different today.
Some experts believe that millennials’ use of technology is ruining the relationship. They claim that it allows the generation to stay in their comfort zone and allows them to avoid face-to-face communication (Lord 2013). Despite the non-traditional element of online dating (not meeting face-to-face or being asked out in person), in my opinion, it seems that the technology brings users farther outside of their social sphere than traditional dating. A vast majority of online daters have the same attitude: “Some 79% of online daters agree that online dating is a good way to meet people, and 70% of them agree that it helps people find a better romantic match because they have access to a wide range of potential partners” (Smith et al 2013). Online dating introduces its users to people completely out of their social sphere. Just because the initial interaction isn’t in person, doesn’t mean it’s a bad way to start a relationship.
Bilton, Nick. “Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/30/fashion/tinder-the-fast-growing-dating-app-taps-an-age-old-truth.html?ref=fashion>.
Henderson, J. Maureen. “Love In The Age Of Digital Media: What Drives Millennial Affection For Dating Apps?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhenderson/2014/04/28/love-in-the-age-of-digital-media-what-drives-millennial-affection-for-dating-apps/>.
Lord, Lauren. “Generation Y, Dating And Technology: Digital Natives Struggle To Connect Offline.” HuffPost Living: Canada. The Huffington Post, 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/14/generation-y-online-dating-technology-relationships_n_2457722.html>.
Smith, Aaron, and Maeve Duggan. “Online Dating & Relationships.” Pew Research Centers Internet American Life Project RSS. N.p., 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/21/online-dating-relationships/>.
Williams, Alex. “The End of Courtship?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/the-end-of-courtship.html?pagewanted=all>.