Swipe right, swipe left, missed connection, super like. Overwhelmed yet? These are the words commonly associated with the modern-day world of online dating apps. The days of going out for dinner and a movie are seemingly gone – or at least they’ve been replaced by invitations to “Netflix and chill” instead. But this leaves college students everywhere to wonder: Have dating apps caused the death of dating? Have they just strengthened the already ramped hookup culture found on college campuses? Or are they simply meant to be used as harmless fun?
According to Tinder’s website, 26 million people match on the popular dating app each day. And since the app was founded by Sean Rad in 2012, more than 10 billion people have been matched – that’s more matches than people on earth. Whether all of these people form relationships, get lost in a sea of one-night stands, or even talk at all is unknown. But one thing is for sure. Dating apps are quickly becoming the new normal.
But even with so many people registered for apps like Tinder, there is still a stigma behind meeting on an app that’s tagged as “hookup” in the app store. And even if you do find “the one” on an app, most people don’t volunteer that information at family gatherings. “We met on Tinder” usually becomes something along the lines of “We met at the grocery store.”
“I think it gets a bad stigma,” said Pace University student Meghan. “Everyone gives you that look like ‘oh you met there?.’ And it’s not just from older generations! People in college do it too.”
But of course, apps like Tinder or Bumble are not just for finding relationships. A number the apps’ users are looking for something far more casual. However, the lines between wanting a casual hookup and receiving unwanted sexual attention seems to blur in the process. Another issue that arises with dating apps is sexual harassment. In a survey of 50 college-aged students, roughly 80% reported feeling uncomfortable by something said to them on a dating app. And of that 80%, almost all were women.
One glance down the popular Instagram page @tindernightmares will give unfamiliar readers a glimpse into the darker world of online dating. From the absurd to the downright inappropriate, Tinder Nightmares encourages users to submit screenshots of their online dating horror stories.
But while the stories on Tinder Nightmares may seem strange, they are definitely not abnormal. When those same 50 college students were asked whether they’ve ever been asked for casual sex on a dating app, 84% of those surveyed replied yes.
But despite their reputation for hookups and crazy messages, many people have found love on dating apps. 20-year-old Rachel believes in love at first swipe, after meeting her current boyfriend on Bumble over a year ago. “The biggest bonus of dating through an app is it allows for people that are normally shy to talk to others through the protection of a screen. Obviously, it has its positives and negatives, but without online dating, I would have never met my true love,” she said. “We started out living 30 miles away, and were probably never going to cross paths in real life. But Bumble gave us the opportunity to find each other.”
Montclair State | New Jersey