Has Tinder Really Sparked a Dating Apocalypse?

Woman text messaging on cell phone

Excerpt from this article:

Tinder super-users are an important slice of the population to study, yes, but they can’t be used as a stand-in for “millennials” or “society” or any other such broad categories. Where are the 20-somethings in committed relationships in Sales’ [Tinder-related Vanity Fair] article? Where are the awkward, lonely young men who feel like they can’t find anyone to have sex with, let alone date them? Where are the women who stay off Tinder because they don’t like the meat-market feel of it? Where are the men and women who find lifetime partners from these apps? (Just off the top of my head, I can think of one guy I know who met his husband on Grindr and a woman who met her fiancé on Tinder, as well as countless long-term relationships that started on OKCupid.) Where are the many, many millennials who get married in their early or mid-20s? Reading Sales’ article, you’d think Tinder had wiped out all these millennials like, well, that aforementioned asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. But there are still millions of young people muddling through relatively “traditional” experiences of dating (and romantic deprivation).

Taking a moral-panic approach to something like mobile online dating makes for a good story, but it also drowns out the opportunity for a richer conversation, and hardens certain false notions about millennial culture. Online dating clearly is changing how many people meet other people and date and have sex. But it’s probably changing their behavior in all sorts of different, sometimes conflicting ways. In some cases, it’s probably helping people find husbands and wives sooner, leading them to have fewer sex partners. In others, it probably does lead to some decision paralysis and frustration with dating. In many cases, it probably just reinforces the user’s preexisting preferences — pro- or anti-promiscuity, pro– or anti–finding someone to settle down with.

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