For Better or Worse, Online Dating is Changing Our Culture

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Online dating is a fast-growing trend thanks to apps like Tinder. But does our ease with swiping, messaging, and moving on have further implications in our culture, including changing the way we interact with one another?

According to website Mashable, studies on dating app behavior point to a distressing trend. On the one hand, online dating has helped to bridge people from different social circles who used to rely on friends and work colleagues to introduce them to future love interests. Now, we can login to a dating app and start swiping.

However, it’s become so easy to swipe that dating apps have become a game more than a way to connect. You see how many people you can match with by endlessly swiping right. You meet someone for drinks to see if they look as hot in person, but if you’re not blown away with chemistry, you can easily move on. There’s no effort needed, and this is becoming a problem for people who are looking for more serious relationships.

But that’s not the whole story. People rely on online dating to find serious relationships, too. As Mashable points out, apps like Tinder might have actually helped increase the rate of marriages by as much as 33 percent according to the Journal of Population Economics, compared to a hypothetical world without Internet.

Studies also point to cultural shifts in the age of dating apps. It’s having an impact on interracial relationships. Between 1967 and 1995, interracial marriages went from 3 percent to 9 percent of all total marriages, a slow increase. But when researchers looked at more recent data, the increase became steeper around 2006 when OkCupid and other online dating platforms were becoming more popular. During the 2000s, interracial marriages rose from 10.68 percent to 15.54 percent, a much larger increase than the previous two and a half decades. Numbers jump again to 17.24 percent in 2014, shortly after the debut of Tinder.

The article also points out that dating apps in theory should bring people together from different socio-economic backgrounds. However, the rise of exclusive dating apps like The League and Raya are simultaneously creating more of a gap. The League boasts a waiting list of 500,000, and Raya won’t consider you unless you have a certain social media status and know people who are already on the app.

If more daters turn to elite services like Raya or The League, the article points out that dating apps could become “the new rungs of the social ladder,” and your influence could determine who you have access to meet. This is the opposite of a level playing field, which online dating originally provided.

Still, since we as a culture are embracing dating apps more than ever, there is also the desire for us to widen our pool of matches instead of trying to make it smaller. Online dating has offered new ways to connect which have changed the way we approach dating.