Swipe to Love or Love to Swipe?
Dawson Students' Take on Dating Apps Today
By Miriam Sossin
February, for involuntarily single people, includes 13 days of annoyance or last-minute hope until the inevitable day of love. Whether you want a candlelit dinner and a giant teddy bear or some handcuffs and a nice bed, it’s difficult to find that special someone. One way to take on this challenge is through dating apps.
I wondered, why do so many of us resort to dating apps? Have we figured out a way around awkward and terrifying person-to-person contact? Have we discovered that bumping into someone and dropping our books doesn’t automatically end in falling in love, and that those movie ask-outs are kind of creepy? And who has the time to work through the saga of a meet-cute? And who doesn’t have a bag for their books? Do people even carry around books anymore? These existential questions needed answers, so I called on the students of Dawson for insight on why we’ve diverted from meeting people the old-fashioned, admittedly creepy way, and are now doing so in the technological, still pretty creepy way.
I started by asking people whether or not they’ve ever used dating apps and why. The reasons why of the “Yes” answers varied: some people were lonely and wanting love, figuring out what they’re looking for, hoping to meet new people, bored, bored and looking for fun, or did it because their friends were on them. Among the “No” answers, some weren’t desperate enough, never thought of it, or said that people only use it when they’re bored.
One interviewee stated that if you go looking for something, you’re bound to find the wrong thing. Does this mean that if we stand around not looking for love, it’ll smack us in the face like a romantic dodgeball? Finding love is already difficult when you’re dying to find it, so it can seem ridiculous that love would just ‘find’ you. However, working through modern love-games, trying to act lowkey but not too lowkey so people know you’re available but not desperate, can be exhausting. It’s possible that with a little more faith and trust in the process, we could find what we're looking for; maybe half the students who replied “yes” wouldn’t have followed it up with “but I deleted it pretty quickly.”
The seemingly never-ending array of options and opportunities on dating apps can make it hard to find the point in putting effort into just one conversation. Though most people will say hello to almost anyone who messages them, they admit that the low-stakes of dating apps ultimately make them more apathetic in their interactions. There’s a “take it or leave it” attitude, where you can be talking to multiple people at the same time, and so what does it matter if one of them doesn’t work out? It’s hard to make an actual connection with someone without getting past “What’s up,” and “Nothing much,” but doing so is not worth it unless you know it’s worth it, and you can’t know unless you talk more. It’s a vicious cycle that often ends in one person giving up on the conversation.
Dating apps are difficult, complicated, confusing, and overwhelming. But isn’t that what looking for love is anyway?
Dating apps are, as Hinge advertises, “Designed to be deleted”. When falling down the rabbit-hole of swiping, it can be hard to remember that dating apps are meant to be a stepping stone to meeting new people in person. That being said, meeting in person can lose its charm when you’re terrified that the person you’ve been sending wink emojis to is not who you thought they were. This was a popular point made when I asked Dawson students which gender they felt had it easier on dating apps. It was pretty unanimous that girls have it easier when it comes to finding matches, but harder when it comes to uncomfortable experiences, and that boys have it harder when it comes to expectations about making the first move. Perspectives on this topic which my interviews fail to properly explore are the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community on dating apps. One interviewee states that as a queer and trans person, it can be difficult to approach people in person as there are always a lot of questions. While dating apps have a smaller pool of LGBTQ+ users, they provide a more secure place where people immediately know the basics of who you are and what you want. But, no matter what, it still sucks to make the first move.
Dating apps are difficult, complicated, confusing, and overwhelming. But isn’t that what looking for love is anyway? Dating is messy, whether online or in person, so I say embrace the exciting first texts and the nerve-wracking seat next to someone cute in class. Block the creeps, and push through the awkward conversations, because if we’re putting ourselves through this, I bet it’s for something that’s worth it.