If you Google the definition of ‘dating’, most results will sound something like this: “Two people meet socially for companionship, usually with the aim of assessing the each other’s suitability for an intimate relationship”. With an increasing prevalence of dating apps, in this dual-authored post we look at two sides of the story.
Before we get to the face off, let’s first look at some of the facts and figures. According to Digital Trends, Tinder has been downloaded by over 100 million people since launch.
Europe loves dating apps. The two most popular dating apps, Tinder and Badoo, are in close competition across Europe. Tinder dominates most of northern Europe, while Badoo has settled down comfortably in the south.
Unlike in Europe, the dominance of Tinder and Badoo does not exist in Asia. Tinder is the most popular dating app in India, the Philippines and Singapore, but names including Momo, Heartbeep and iPair Meet Your Match are widely used across the continent.
Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina rank Badoo as their favourite dating app, beating Tinder by a small percentage. According to research conducted for the BBC, dating apps are the most popular when compared to other apps. A lady from Brazil was asked about her use of both Tinder and Happn. Here’s what she had to say:
“I used to go to clubs, but it seems everyone goes for a single purpose – getting a girl or a guy…it feels like you’re hunting or being hunted. It’s a lot smoother through the apps. Even if you’re shy, you can just swipe right on someone and start a conversation. Tinder and Happn made online dating more accessible and less embarrassing to younger people. You don’t have to be ashamed of it any more, because most of your friends use it”.
Similarly to the UK and Australia, the United States and Canada rank Tinder as their top dating app. The evolution of the dating app has resulted in a rise in the number of 18-24 year-olds giving online dating a chance. A female 24 year-old from New York was asked about her interaction with dating apps, including Tinder and OKCupid:
“In New York, there are eight million people. How the hell are you supposed to find someone? I have girlfriends who are single who will take my phone away just so they can start swiping for me because it becomes a sort of addictive game that you do.”
So with that in mind, let’s open the discussion up to two of our staff – Christina and Becky…
(Christina is our resident Digital Marketing expert, kindly “on loan” from Bournemouth University during her placement with us. Take it away Christina…)
When it comes to dating apps, it seems we’re given mixed messages from every direction. Our parents tell us, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts’, while apps like Tinder and Badoo encourage us to make snap decisions on people based entirely on their profile pictures. On the bus each day, I see at least one person swiping through dozens of images, using their morning commute to separate potential partners from those who won’t make the cut. What they fail to realise is, they could be sitting right next to their perfect match – if only they’d look up from their screens.
A change of meaning
This type of conversation has become part of everyday life:
“I’m dating someone!”
“Oooh, exciting! How many times have you gone out?”
“Well, we haven’t actually met yet. But we’ve been speaking on this app for six weeks”.
The evolution of dating apps has shifted the meaning of dating completely. Are we so heavily reliant on them that we class ourselves as ‘in a relationship’, even if we haven’t met the person?
It’s always the same
One study revealed the average Tinder user will check their profile eleven times, and spend a total of NINETY MINUTES on the app PER DAY. An hour and a half of checking, swiping and sifting through messages. If people have ninety minutes a day to spend on an app, surely the “no time to go out and meet people” argument doesn’t stand. Dating apps give people the excuse to stay within four walls, hide behind a screen and put any form of communication skills to the back of their mind.
As if it wasn’t enough that people don’t want to go out to meet people anymore, dating apps give us the excuse to limit our opening introductions to the same select few. What’s up? You’re cute. Hey, you been on here long? People have long been concerned about the younger generation lacking communication skills and the ability to keep a conversation going for longer than a minute. Hiding behind a dating app is only adding to this problem.
Nobody likes to talk about it, but the rise in dating apps has led to an increased number of crimes in the UK. According to the BBC, the number of crimes where dating apps have been mentioned has increased more than sevenfold in the past two years. In 2013, only 45 reports of crimes mentioned Tinder or Grindr – this jumped to 412 in the year up to October 2015. When you consider the many millions of dating app users with the number of crimes, it does seem very small. However, dating apps have still introduced a new way of targeting vulnerable individuals. In an age when mobile apps form such a huge part of day-to-day life, extra care should be taken when uploading personal information and images.
Just because Cupid’s arrow hasn’t struck you yet…
You do hear stories about people who have met their perfect partner through a dating app. However, I do feel there is a danger of over-relying on these apps for major decisions. Calendars, reminders, road maps, diet tracking, you name it. Apps can do it all. But they won’t always lead to happily ever after. They were created to assist in life, not replace it. We need to take a step back from the screen and look up, before life passes us by completely.
For now, I’m swiping left on dating apps.
(Becky looks after our clients, and brings a different perspective to the table. Over to you Becky…)
As someone who met my husband not just online but on the notoriously shallow dating app Tinder, I have a lot to say on the matter. I am a real life Tinderella and I believe in the Dating App fairy tale. Admittedly, I went on a few horrific dates with questionable characters, but no more than if I had locked eyes on them across a crowded dancefloor with beer goggles firmly on!
Having thought about all of the stigma associated with our generation and online dating apps, I realised it doesn’t have to signal the end of meaningful relationships – it has created an extra avenue to discover them.
Most people I know tend to swipe through on down-time, when they wouldn’t necessarily have the time to go out. 90 mins a day initially shocked me to be honest, but when I thought about it; if my morning train commute was 20 mins each way, I had a 20 minute bath in the evening and read in bed before I went to sleep for 30 mins, all whilst casually perusing the latest members hot onto the dating scene, that is no time at all! If you can get ready, get into town, get talking to a few people and find one that you would like to meet again all in that 90 mins, then fair play to you! I however, preferred to be a bit more leisurely in my selection process.
It’s Always The Same:
During my dating heyday of 2007 to 2014 it was pretty much the same old story. You get dressed up in the same little dress, you go out to the same old places, filled with the same people, wearing the same Paco Rabanne fragrance, listening to the same songs, spending money you don’t have whilst watching a sweaty dancefloor filled with guys who reckon because they’ve read “The Game” they are your answer to all your lonely nights. Spoiler alert: they aren’t. They have too much gel in their hair for starters…
Admittedly – you don’t have to brush your hair or put mascara on to get swiping – however I would have to disagree that the quality of communication is far worse online. If I had a choice of carefully crafting my witty responses and banter before sending it over as opposed to drunkenly shouting in the ear of Tim or Tom or “what was your name again?” I would much rather opt for the former. Plus, with online communications you start to build up a reference library: forgotten where they work already? Just scroll up and check, rather than hoping it comes back up in conversation soon. Plus, if you are using these apps to facilitate a meet up (which is kind of the point) you’ll eventually be talking to them face to face anyway. Only this time you are armed with a little more information on them other than they drink rum and coke and “love this tuuuuune”! Plus if they have a dodgy stance on important politics to you, you are more likely to have sussed that out having spoken to them in a little more depth before having to go on an awkward date.
I am shocked to see the rise in crime correlating with the rise of dating app usage. However, I would be interested to understand in a little more depth if these dangers have risen directly due to the use of dating apps to meet people, or whether as a generation we seem more nonchalant to the dangers presented by meeting a total stranger. My parents’ generation seem to be constantly worrying with “what ifs” and “just thinks” whereas my friends, and me to an extent, seem to be more dismissive and less averse to risk. This is a serious problem, we need to be more cautious, whilst also educating future generations on the importance of respect for others and consent…. But I don’t feel meeting people online is the main driver behind this increased crime rate – it is more a symptom. Ultimately you are just as much at increased risk of danger leaving a club on your own and being followed. At least with speaking with the person a bit before hand, any potential warning signs means you can block them swiftly and stay away! I was able to block a few people I spoke with who gave off all the wrong signals way before I even thought about meeting up.
Just because Cupid’s arrow hasn’t struck you yet…
You hear about the horror stories, and yes there are some valid points to digest on both sides, however in an increasingly more busy world where we are ignoring meaningful relationships, surely a tool to help reconnect people who have already started to forget how to connect is awesome? Even if it means using the very technology that created that disconnect in the first place.
Your life can change with just one swipe – mine certainly did!
So there we have it! As you can see this is a topic which can be very devisive. Have dating apps had their time? Has the death knell sounded for the electronic compatability matching? Or do these clever bits of software smooth the path to meeting Mr/Mrs Right? Whether a help or a hinderance they seem to be doing well, and if anything seem to be thriving and getting more niche.