Dating in the 21st Century

By: Dyllan Ogurkis

Dating in the 21st century is quite different from this time a 100 years ago – let alone just 10 or 20 years ago at the turn of the century. New forms of communication and match making services have sprung up as the American economy has shifted from manufacturing to a service economy. For thousands of people, matchmaking is the service which they provide to consumers just as their parents produced tangible products in manufacturing plants. Two of the major online dating services, Bumble and Tinder, have at least 650 staff worldwide. Online dating in the 21st century is also a lucrative business, it is estimated to have an ever growing revenue between now and 2024. In 2020, then total revenue surpassed $600 million while in 2024 the figure is expected to surpass $755 million. According to the BBC, Tinder is the most downloaded dating app in the world and hit its most traffic to date in March of 2020 with three billion single swipes in a single day. Since that date, that record has been broken more than 100 times.

Statistically, 44.2 million Americans are using online dating while 26.6 million are using online dating through smartphone applications such as Bumble and Tinder. According to the Pew Research Center, it is estimated that 30% of Americans have used a dating app or service. On top of that, of that 30%, 11% say they have used that service in the last year. From dates to real relationships, 23% of Americans responded that they in fact went on a date that was done through online dating. Of real relationships cultivated from online services, 12% have been either in a committed relationship or have even been married as a result of professional matchmaking. These numbers go much deeper though, 48% of US adults 18-29 and 30% of 30-49 are active with online dating while the percentage of them reaching committed relationships from this service is between 16-17% respectively.

The happy stories are also countered by negative ones as well according to the same Pew Research Study. 71% of Americans surveyed find that people lying about themselves is common place while 48-50% find that both the setting up of fake accounts for scamming as well as the receiving of explicit images that were not wanted were rampantly common. According to the Statistica Research Department, as of 2019 42% of users said they had either a ‘somewhat negative’ to ‘very negative experience’ on dating apps. These native trends continue when it comes from making the transition from online to in person. Of all US adults survyed, 46% say it is unsafe to meet people from online according to the Pew Research Study. There is however a stark difference percentage wise when divided by gender for this question. While 39% of males concluded that it was unsafe, over 50% of women concluded this at 53% (a 14% point difference!). Asside from gender differentiation there is also a generational difference. From this same study, only 38% of those 18-29 said it was relatively ‘unsafe’ while for the age group 50-64 and 64+ their responses ranged from 51-59% respectively which is a major discrepancy gap. The BBC went further into detail with a personal story of negative experiences. They interviewed Shani Silver who detailed many separate experiences. Of those she concluded that often times she was asked for “sexual favors before someone said hello” or before names were even exchanged.

After compiling and reviewing all of this data, I decided to interview a friend Thomas who is a frequent user of online dating apps. After reviewing with him all of the overall data alongside the statistics regarding negative experiences he responded quickly with “I’m not surprised”, he went on to mention the countless negative stories of experiences he’s heard from our other friends over the years. As well I decided to discuss the data with my neighbor Alexander who falls into the age category most inexperienced with online dating – 64+. Before even entering the numbers side of the topic Alex started with “I never understood it” and went on to describe his disdain for ‘online anything’ ;et alone online dating. He went on to discuss how he met his wife of 50 years in person saying that “that’s the recipe for success”. With both of these interviews, those interviewed ranged from both ends of the study’s age sections and with that reflected the data and showed two completely different experiences, opinions, and reflections of online dating.

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