It’s no secret, we are in the app generation. Apps have taken over our lives. I have an app to tell me when the next five trains are. An app for my online banking. An app to get me home after a night out, better known as Uber. Uber’s popular little brother; UberEATS, for when I’m too lazy to cook but cant decide what I feel like. An app to help me navigate the city. Heck, I even have an app that tells me when I’m ovulating. And of course, all my social media apps. Snapchat for quick flicks to my friends, Instagram for sharing my photos, Facebook for sharing my thoughts, Messenger for talking to people. And as with most millennials nowadays; Tinder. Yep, not only are we in the app generation, but we are also in the online dating generation.
When my parents met, they locked eyes across the university library, sat next to each other, and began talking. After weeks of following her around campus, my dad finally plucked the courage to ask my mum out. And as they say, the rest, is history. I heard this story many times growing up, and always imagined that I would someday lock eyes with my soul mate, and that’s all it would take. Oh if only I knew. Knew what dating would be like as a 21st century girl apart of the ‘online generation’.
All throughout high school, boys rarely approached me. I hardly talked to a boy in person at all. But that didn’t stop them from messaging me on Facebook, even asking me for topless photos and telling me I was the one for them. But when I saw them in the hallway? Zilch, nada, nothing. Is online communication ruining intimacy? No longer do us girls receive heart felt letters, or grand romantic gestures. Instead, we receive messages along the lines of “heyyy”, “wyd?” and “wanna play 20 questions?”. And that’s just a few examples amidst a long saga I like to call, straight white boys texting.
It’s true; since growing up with boys messaging me as opposed to approaching me, and stories of older friends/colleagues meeting their partners online, I walked into adult life practically incapable of talking to a boy. As a heterosexual female, this scared the living shit out of me. But despite how inept I thought I was in the dating field, it didn’t prove to be as much of a problem as I thought it would. Because, as I soon discovered, my male counterparts had grown up with the same experience as me; online communication, flirting, and dating.
This year, I’ve met quite a few boys at uni parties, bars, clubs, you name it. Back in the day, we would have exchanged numbers, one of us would call the other, and we’d go on a date or two before deciding if we wanted more or not. Now, we add each other on Facebook, and get to know each other online for weeks, before finally agreeing to ‘hang out’ in person. Not date – ‘hang out’. People are too afraid these days to use the word ‘date’, perhaps for fear of looking desperate, or coming on too strong. It’s ridiculous. Everyone is trying to act more coy, more nonchalant than the other, and quite frankly, it’s exhausting. We ‘hang out’ with these potential partners, until one gets sick of the other and ‘ghosts’ them. Ghosting, a relatively new term in the online dating world, refers to the act of ignoring someone’s messages, pretending nothing happened, and leaving them on ‘read’ until they eventually stop trying, and the relationship – whatever it was – ceases to exist. So now, my Facebook friend list is embedded with these guys who I once had a fling with, but which never turned into an actual relationship. Online communication, whilst enhancing our ability to interact quickly and affectively with others, is ruining our romantic relationships. Because no one dates anymore, no one has relationships anymore. There’s only casual sex, hookup buddies, multiple partners and ‘sliding in one’s DM’s’. Monogamy is dead, and along with it, intimacy. Because of this universal fear of commitment, instilled in most millennials, as well as the possibility that there could be someone better out there, we don’t become close enough to anyone to achieve intimacy.
I turned to my friends recently, and asked about their own experiences with guys online, and how people are far less careful with what they type to each other. Here are a few examples I collected from myself and my friends, of the, uhh, brashness of online ‘flirting’:
Basically, what we found is…
Okay, now lets talk Tinder. Online dating. Not just messaging someone on Facebook, and chatting someone up online. But online platforms specifically designed for dating. Previous to Tinder, there was sites such as Eharmony, RSVP and Match. However, these required filling out lengthy profiles, finding photos of yourself, and waiting days to be matched with someone. If old school romance died at the hands of texting, then these online dating sites have died at the hands of Tinder. Tinder, the online version of casually hooking up, which essentially thrives off polygamy. Tinder is everything that is wrong with the dating world. Some people swear by it. Gosh, one of my closest work colleagues met her long term partner on it. But for most, let’s call it what it is. A hook up app. Tinder makes hooking up easier than ever. Unlike older dating websites, it takes photos from your Facebook, and gives you a short, simple bio, mostly consisting of your age, occupation, suburb and a few likes/dislikes. People swipe left if they’re not interested, and right if they are. You only find out if someone likes you, and thus you are protected from that terrible feeling of rejection, by never finding out who swiped left. It shelters us, and what’s more, it makes us feel like we have endless possibilities.
Because of apps like Tinder, we are more flexible with our dating desires. We believe we can have anyone, and everyone, and hence, we no longer settle for monogamy. Why date one person, when someone better could be out there? When you could date multiple people at once? With Tinder, sex is out our disposal. No longer do we have to go out to a bar, spend money on drinks, and chat to someone for hours to ‘get them into bed’. Nope. A simple “hey, whatcha doin tonight?” will suffice, and within 30 minutes you have a sex partner. Who knows, you could even message someone else after they’ve left, and go for two in one night. The possibilities are endless. Sounds great right? No! We should not be satisfied with these sorts of relationships, this sort of communication! Where has romance gone? How can anyone be satisfied with this? What ever happened to old fashioned love?
Nancy Jo Sales at Vanity Fair wrote an article in 2015 which addresses how Tinder is the “dawn of the ‘dating apocalypse'”, and that romance is getting “swiped from the screen”. And boy, was she spot on. The article analyses how the dating has changed since the introduction of Tinder, as Sales chats with various twenty-somethings living in New York City about their experiences with Tinder. One guy that she speak to, on the topic of polygamy, states that “you can’t be stuck in one lane … There’s always something better.” “If you had a reservation somewhere and then a table at Per Se opened up, you’d want to go there,”. Well, monogamy really must be dead, my friends. The article also posted an interesting video, of senior citizens using Tinder, just to show that it truly is a millennial fascination. View the video here:
As we are in an era where people are seeking more casual sex than actual relationships, it’s becoming increasingly harder for those who do want a connection. I was recently in a situation where I was spending all of my time with this guy. I really liked him, he liked me, we went out to dinner, spent heaps of time with each other, and were also, incidentally, sleeping together. We were practically in a relationship, so of course I was frustrated, after many of our friends asking what we were, when he would consistently reply that we were “just friends”. He didn’t want to be in a relationship, and was happy with what we had. So now, we are in this weird friendship where we’re kind of dating, but not really. And it SUCKS. But I’m not the only one. I have countless friends, both male and female, who have been in a similar situation; one person wont commit because they just want to be single right now. For this, I blame hookup apps and online dating. People feel like they have the world at their fingertips. That they can be in these undefined relationships with someone that they actually care about, whilst simultaneously sleeping with other women, and ‘hitting people up’ on Tinder. It’s sick, and someone always gets hurt. Yeah we can all pretend like we don’t care, that it’s ‘casual’, and that we’re happy with how things are. But really, we’re only human. And we ultimately do crave intimacy, but are left frustrated as its so hard to come by these days. Intimacy doesn’t exist online. You can emotionally connect with someone by getting to know them online. You can physically connect with someone through casual sex and hookup apps. But nothing beats good old fashioned intimacy; late night talks, cuddling, sharing hopes, fears, dreams, and being there for someone when they need you to be. You just cant get that online.
On the topic of online ‘romance’, ‘ScoopWhoop’ on YouTube actually did an interesting short film exploring hookup culture in India, and questions if technology has “killed love”:
What I’m really trying to say though, is that hookup apps and online dating are no substitute for intimacy. What’s more, hooking up and meeting people online is inhibiting our ability to communicate with others in person. Everyone is leaning towards introversion, everyone is afraid of rejection, of asking someone out, of going on a real date. We all pretend we don’t care about someone, for fear of ‘catching feelings’ or ‘getting hurt’. Since when did dating become so complicated? There’s only one answer to that question; the internet.
An interesting Ted Talk by Kevin Carr, discusses these undefined relationships we are all in, or as he calls them, “situationships”. I like this talk, as it explores how the internet and modern ‘relationships’ have certainly changed the dating game, but ultimately, we all still crave that companionship, that intimacy, deep within.
Yes, modern dating is fucked. Creator of Tinder, Jane Marie, even made a podcast series about “defining relationships in the digital age”, which is definitely worth the listen. Because let’s face it, no one is defining anything anymore thanks to the internet.
So come on people, let’s do something about this so called “dating apocalypse”. By all means, if casual hook ups are your thing, go for it. But if deep down, you crave intimacy, and want a real relationship, don’t succumb to the shallow grasps of the online dating world. Don’t settle for these people who make you feel like you’re just an option amongst a sea of online possibilities. Go out there and get the real thing. Let’s bring back dating. Let’s bring back intimacy.