Saying that I’m obsessed with First Dates would be putting it lightly! Ashamedly (actually not really!) every time I hear the title sequence, no matter what else I’m doing, my heart fills with giddy excitement and nothing stands in my way as I thunder into the living room, plunk myself on the sofa and basque in the uncomfortable silences, steamy glances, sexual innuendoes and the awkwardness of bills in the First Dates restaurant. I love the show so intently because it represents everything I love about old fashioned dating; a bittersweet explosive concoction of nerves, excitement, second guessing and the thrills of putting yourself out there. On the contrary and all so very frustratingly just in the way of Walkman’s, Bebo and Zayn Malik’s career, old fashioned dating has become a thing of the past. Let me introduce to you modern love and its name is dating apps… Mexican, Chinese’s, Caribbean and Indian, regardless of your taste or preference, you can order any takeaway at clicks of a button. Thus it is this very underlining emphasis on quickness and convenience that has come to define dating scene of the 21st century. Long gone are the words “romance”, “taking it slow” and “spontaneity” and rapidly taking their place has been Facebook stalking, chat up lines on Tinder and notches on a bedposts.
Once online dating was seen as something sordid and pathetic, perpetuated by stereotypes of nerds, losers and creeps roaming the internet. Now dating apps have become increasingly the norm as the years have gone by, now in the 2010s it isn’t just acceptable anymore, but now it has become expected to be on some sort of dating app. This new form of courtship has banished the pain and threat of rejection involved with meeting people at bars and social gatherings to the dark ages. Instead these apps have cut out the middle man and gone straight to the bottom line, now all you need is a WI-FI and suddenly you’re in the presences of thousands of singles in your area without having to put your shoes on. On a lunch break, bored at 3 am or in the mood for Netflix and chill, hook ups are only a swipe to the right away. So how are people matched on these apps? Personality analysing questionnaires? Complex scientific algorithms perhaps? Or maybe matches based on hobbies and passions? The answer is none of the above, apps such as Grinder and Tinder consist of a few pictures, GPS and a swipe right if you think the person is good looking or left if not. Seriously!?
Being encouraged to make decisions based purely on what a person looks like leads to superficiality and a shallow approach to dating, in the long term this can really have a negative implications on our dating lives. Eventually it will distort what we perceive as important qualities in a perspective mate such as shared ambitions, humour and passions and thus lead to unrealistic expectations and send us down a vain, deluded pursuit for perfection. Our dependence on our online clutches have also lead to a diminishing of our social and communicational skills. Once hidden behind a screen, we aren’t able edit every single things we say and second guess it before we post it to the person, whereas in real life conversation this won’t be possible, once it is out there is out there. Also when you use dating apps we are putting forward, not an actual representation of ourselves, but an idealized version of whom we want people to think we are. Surely all this editing ourselves into something we’re not is going to be a detriment to building honest relationships with other human beings, as well as being a detriment to our self-esteem when we realise we can’t live up to these perfectly curated digital personas?
Okay, okay…I admit it it’s not all doom and gloom! Dating apps do bring us into contact with lots of people we wouldn’t normally meet in real life, thus increasing our chances of making a connection and finding that someone special. It makes rejection less of a stingy blow because it is very easy to move onto the next one and Tinder goes some step closer by matching you with only the people who share mutual attraction with you. Dating apps are perfect for those of us who are shy and slightly awkward with dating, because the apps allow the shy to talk to people and put themselves out there in a casual not so threatening situation. There is even apps like How About We that aims to create a more profound dating experiences: the app actually encourages you to spend less time online and more time in the real world meeting people by focusing on the dates itself. The app pairs people on what they consider to be their perfect date, so not only can you have a perfect date together, the fact that you choose the same type of date suggest you’re both likely to have lots in common.
Overall in my experience dating apps have the potential to make dating life more difficult and less enjoyable in the long run as it encourages superficiality and fleeting relationships. But worst of all it makes dating mechanical, a product of algorithms and 1s and 0s instead of the organic, exciting and unpredictability of meeting people by chance in real life. Because I don’t know about you, but I like the butterflies and even within the occasional rejection I know I’m getting one step closer to finding that special someone. In an ideal world I feel that for others dating apps should be used only as an aid to helping us find sustainable love, bringing us into contacts with people who usually wouldn’t meet in our day to day lives and helping us break away from our protective shells. However in terms of my own dating life, I won’t be swiping right or left on any dating apps any time soon, I’m still too much of an old romantic and I still believe in the power of fate and the judgement of cupid when it comes to finding the one.