by: Jessica Luecke
The surge of online dating has taken off in the last decade and a half. During the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, dating apps have become a powerful addiction in our society. Swiping, Matching, liking, all to lead us to the age-old question: Is online dating worth it?
Despite the conversation of whether its effective, online dating has increased popularity, confirming society’s hope for it to work. A Pew Research Center study revealed 11% of Americans in 2013 were on dating sites, but as the years progressed, it skyrocketed to 30% of Americans in 2019. 11% of 2019 participants are either married or in a committed relationship as a result of online dating. Evidence does show while the 2013 statistics aren’t too much to behold, they were enough to influence the next generation of hopeless romantics and repeated one-night stands.
It’s safe to say that people, specifically Americans, are so driven by the hope of finding someone, they completely miss the mark of validity. Michael Rosenfeld, an online-dating expert from Stanford, shared that roughly 1 in 4 straight couples and 2 out of 3 same-sex couples now meet on the internet. The new generation craves emotional connection, something that has proven to be extremely difficult to begin with. While online dating might not be the answer, it is progressive tool, an aid, to our generation. Rosenfeld found that once people are in a relationship, it doesn’t matter how they found each other, it continues similarly to a relationship who origins that began offline.
Kait Atkinson, a 21-year-old biology major at Bloomsburg University, met her significant other on Bumble. “Bumble was just an easy way to talk to people who are interested in the same things I am.” She explains how she was fresh out of a toxic relationship and joined Bumble looking for a couple one-night stands. “His name is Tim, and we met for coffee. It was awkward and I assumed we would go back to my place, hook up, and that would be that. But 3 months later, he’s my boyfriend and my best friend.” She firmly believes that dating apps don’t always work for everyone but they “gave [her] something amazing [she] wasn’t expecting.”
For those who counter the argument of online dating, the most common response is lack of “living in the moment,” or lack of effort to meet someone organically. Realistically as long as someone is in a happy and healthy relationship the first chapter in someone’s romance shouldn’t be important. Rosenfeld says his studies show no obvious pattern of online daters being worse off, he explains that online communities give exposure to a larger range of potential partners.
When thinking about how dating apps can also be “superficial”, finding someone attractive in a picture is practically the same as surveying an area and identifying who the most attractive. Dating apps cause skepticism for a multitude of reason but the biggest one is new technology. Every time modern technology creates a tool for society to move forward there is always someone screaming about the evils of automation.
Kiersten Kurtz, a 22-year-old English major at Bloomsburg University had a very common take on dating apps. Her poison is Tinder. “It’s not the healthiest, but I use Tinder to feel validated by the opposite sex.” She explains in her opinion that although each online dating app is advertised as a “dating service,” socially, apps like Tinder and Grindr are considered “hook-up apps” and Bumble and Hinge are “relationship apps.” “I won’t lie” she confesses, “Dating apps are great for consensual casual sex, and is much easier then scoping someone out at the bar, hoping they’ll want to go home with you.” For her personally, “relationship apps” is something she probably won’t consider but she’s had a lot of friends with really great success stories.
Pew Research Center touches on this topic during one of their studies finding that 13% of all online daters are just looking for sex. Can we really blame our current generation for wanting a shortcut to love? Or sex? After all we are only human.
Whether an individual is looking for something brief and intimate or something long and meaningful is it worth it to cut out an entire system that could potentially aid them? The question is not about online dating being effective but more about a personal choice for someone. Perhaps someone wants to meet in the real world, bumping into one another, having a cute story to tell others. But we cannot ignore the fact our world has changed since the birth of the internet and sometimes the path from point A to point B is not always linear.
People have the chance of meeting their soulmate in the most random places. The Internet just might be among those same places.