The death and demise of paid online dating sites are nothing new. Reports and articles about the decline of subscribers for the heavy hitters Match.com and e-Harmony are old news, in fact. So what? I am not writing to tell you to stop paying for your online dating subscription. But I'm here to inform you that you should stop paying for that online dating subscription. Match.com? e-Harm? Yeah, they suck. Their heyday was pre-2010. Times have changed.
Pardon the expression—because I personally fucking hate it and it makes me so rage-y—but we live in a “right-swipe-world” now.
Tinder? Bumble? The Grade? Grindr? Grizzly? Pretty much the same instant gratification app-thingy. Find love by the swipe is what they promise. What these services have done is remove all the bullshit fluff. They've taken away the long essay questions and answers you don't want to write and certainly don't want to read. These services have done away with all the hoops one encounters before ever actually talking to someone. Thanks, e-harm!
A crazy thing happened. People actually liked it. And is it surprising to anyone? You can binge watch just about any series on TV these days (except you, Game of Thrones. Eyeballing you, HBO!). If you live in the right places, you can order Amazon stuff that will arrive within an hour or two. What a time, people!
We're in the midst of a revolution. Strap in!
Tinder was the first to hit the market with their tech. It was at that time considered a “hook up” app, and it still carries that stigma. Say whatever you want, but Tinder changed the world of dating; it changed it in the same way that Great Expectations changed the dating world by sending VHS tapes of creepy people straight to your home.
Put another way; Tinder took us from this:
Online dating has made it easier for people to be creepy and shitty to one another because there are no consequences. The worst thing that can happen is someone gets kicked off a service. So why not send that dick pick? Why not threaten to assault someone sexually? I don't believe that dating services are the cause of this sort of behavior. I believe technology empowers people, not just some people. All people. Technology allows people to act in shitty ways. Online dating provides mechanisms for users to communicate with one another. By providing messaging tools users can send those dick picks, or the incredibly rare pussy pic (at least unusual to me); by providing filtering tools dating services allow people to profile their mates racially. We are as shitty as the technology we use allows us to be. That's a deeper discussion, but sums up what I think online dating has become.
How the Nature of Online Dating Has Changed
Because we spend less time wanting to read through profiles and jump through hoops, we are seeing a generation of users dialed into instant gratification when it comes to love. Tinder, Bumble, and similar apps allow one to swipe quickly through local people.
Let's assume two people swipe match each other and neither has sent an inappropriate pic to the other. They're already off to a great start! They meet, maybe the date goes okay-ish. They decide they want to go out again, even though it wasn't a memorable date. The date was sort of a “blah” affair. No problem! You can go home—or on your way back to the cart, train, or bus—and start swiping right then and there. Or even while your date is away getting a drink or going to the bathroom. Swipe, swipe, swipe! If you don't like what you got, you can swipe your way to someone better.
While I am a fan how dating apps have come along and cut the fat, I'm saddened at what it's done. We all think we can do better. We can easily find someone who is “better” for us rather than taking the time to appreciate what is in front of us.
People are more likely to roll the dice and find love in an online casino than to go out into the real world and meet someone. That is not to say meeting people IRL is unheard of, but it does seem like it happens a lot less today. Doesn't it? Yesterday I met a couple who met at the local bar a few blocks away from me. I don't know why that struck me as “odd.” But it did. It works, that whole old school way of meeting people.
Should We Adjust Our Approach?
Sure, but I think that train has already left the station. So what do we do about the world that we're living in? I don't know. Dating has changed for sure. I don't think it's entirely bad. In fact, I think the bad parts of it can be a positive. Because people are less afraid to show their true nature early on it does make it easier to suss-out the dregs. But knowing such people exist is disheartening. I'm reminded of this quote:
When you change the way you see things, the things you see begin to change.
I know, that sounds like some grand ol' bullshit. Doesn't it? Maybe it is. I think the reality is that dating is a very different landscape, and it is changing as I type this. I don't believe that we've emotionally caught up, I don't think our ethics or maturity have caught up either.
I coach a group of runners. It's common for an athlete to become frustrated when they can't keep up with the rest of their group. They push themselves too hard and often want to quit. I tell them to run their run. That is, you're not out there to keep pace, you're out there to make yourself better. Put your energy there.
I think we could all take a breather and put more energy into ourselves before we start swiping.