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Dating Apps: Can you call it love?

February 18, 2016

Tinder is No Substitute for Time

Denis McGrath

Denis is a freshman in the LSA Honors Program at the University of Michigan. He is from Cincinnati, Ohio and plans on applying to the Ford School. Denis is a training developer for UM’s Club Swim Team, competes nationally for Paralympic swimming, and is an active member of UM’s Blue Model United Nations Club.


As an 18-year-old male who is decidedly single and unmarried, the question of whether dating apps such as Tinder are changing the ways people meet people is a challenging question to answer. I haven’t yet gone through the experience of trying to find my future wife in settings other than high school or my freshman year of college, so I can’t claim to know the objective truth on this matter. That being said, my experiences thus far with dating apps have convinced me that dating apps are definitely changing the way that people are meeting nowadays.


In our society, time is at a premium. In every aspect of life– from school to work to social life– being incredibly


productive and successful has become a requirement. As a result, being successful in any field requires more and more effort, which takes away from time in other areas. This emphasis on the value of time can be seen in situations such as the emphasis on joining “select” sports teams and focusing on one sport as opposed to becoming pretty good at multiple different sports or with the incredible workloads being placed on high school students so that they can be competitive to get into prestigious universities.


I think that the increased value of time has led to the proliferation of social media. People attempt to box their lives into 140 characters or a brief profile picture and caption, and based off of this streamlined version of themselves, they try to find people with similar interests to be their “friends”. It’s only natural that in a social media society, social media dating apps such as Tinder have followed closely behind, with people attempting to find their next significant other or next one-night stand based off a couple pictures and a brief profile.  Quite frankly, people don’t have the time to follow in the footsteps of older generations and spend hours upon hours at bars getting to know the perfect person, so they turn to social media and social media dating apps in the interest of time. However, while social media and social media dating sites have helped our generation adapt to its increasing workload, while still maintaining a social life and continuing to search for the perfect significant other, these sites and apps have increasingly forced today’s generation to compact itself to fit into the brief period of time where someone determines whether to “swipe right” or “swipe left”. People have become their best six pictures and their clever bio, and these social media profiles have replaced the time that people used to spend going on dates to get to know each other. While casual sex and hookup culture is nothing new, the popularity of Tinder and other quick dating apps shows that this casual hookup culture is actually starting to replace dating culture permanently. However, in skipping the vital step of dating to get to know someone well, people are starting to be ground down into purely their looks and the text they can fit into messages and profiles, which is essential to forming a relationship with another person.


Therefore, while most people don’t necessarily go to Tinder or other “fast hookup” apps in order to find the person they want to spend the rest of their life with, using Tinder and other social media sites is teaching people to compact their entire personality and life into a few quick pictures and sentences. The danger with “easy-hookup” or “social media dating” apps is that experiencing those apps will teach people to condense their personalities and thus when they go out and attempt to form a solid relationship, they are unable to, because they never learned how to express themselves in greater length than the word count allowed by an app. To put things simply, I understand why these apps have become so popular, and I don’t necessarily have anything against them—I mean, what’s the difference between getting drunk at a bar or party and having a one-night stand or messaging someone you “matched” with to have one? —but if people begin to mold their dating approaches around these hookup apps, they will form relationships based on purely superficial and shallow reasons. While I don’t see anything wrong with Tinder or other hookup apps, I strongly believe that there is nothing that can replace the time, effort, and hard work necessary for the formation of a substantial relationship, and I believe that these apps are conditioning our generation to believe that they can skip that critical step of truly getting to know someone, which will inevitably lead to relationship failure.

It's Still Dating


One of the more controversial subjects these days is the emergence of dating apps, such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and many more. These dating apps have gotten a bad reputation by some who believe that they make casual sex and hookups more prominent, thereby making them more of a “hookup app” than a dating app. There are articles warning parents about such dating apps and there is a stigma in society against those who use them. However, I don’t believe these dating apps have changed dating or how we approach our relationships in today’s world.


Hooking up, casual sex, and the “one night stand” are not new phenomena. They have been around long before dating apps. For people that want to approach relationships in this way, Tinder is just another way that they can do so. If they wanted to go to a bar and pick someone up instead, that works just as well. In that sense, Tinder is not any different than dating without the use of dating apps. There is still opportunity for people to have casual relationships in the world outside of their iPhone applications.


Technology, on the other hand, is what has really changed our lives. Combining technology and dating doesn’t change our approach to relationships in any way. It is just a more convenient way of meeting other people. In the past, you could meet others by going outside to a coffee shop, fitness class, or anywhere else. Nowadays, people spend much more time on their phones and less time socializing. Therefore, dating apps allow people to still meet others in a world that is becoming more technologically based. Instead of changing relationships, they are changing the way we meet others since original methods have become more obsolete.


Not only do dating apps allow you to meet people in a time when that has become harder to do, but also they allow you to meet people that you never would have encountered before. Now you can meet people who have similar interests as you but aren’t in your social circle. Essentially, Tinder and the like are broadening the pool of people to date. This does not change dating; it makes dating more accessible and likely as you have more potential partners to choose between.


In the world outside of dating apps, people have many failed relationships and awkward first dates before they find someone right for them. With dating applications, this is exactly the same. In order to find the right person, you may have to face a few losers right off the bat, but eventually you may find the person who is right for you. Whether it is through a dating application, blind dates, or picking up someone at a bar, this is a similar scenario. As you can see from the many Tinder success stories, it is possible to find love through dating apps, just as it is possible to find love without them. Patience and perseverance are always an integral part of dating; this does not change with the use of a dating application.


In a world obsessed with technology, with people constantly on their cell phones, scrolling through different social media sites, it is no wonder that relationships have been brought to the online world. Dating apps have not changed the way we view or approach relationships. The world is evolving with the growth of technology and dating apps are matching those changes. It is inevitable that as we become more reliant on technology, old forms of meeting people, such as speed dating or blind dating or even matchmakers, are no longer enough. Dating apps use our reliance on technology to allow us to meet more people and expand our circle of possible partners. Dating itself is still the same; there is just a new platform where we can meet partners.


Our approach to dating has not changed either. If people are looking for something more casual, they can easily find that. If they are looking for something more serious, they can find that as well. We still meet others, now through a larger circle of people, and decide if we get along. In this respect, dating has not changed through the emergence of dating apps. Dating apps allow the millennial generation to meet other people and date, successfully or not, in a world where everyone is staring at their phone.

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