Dating apps seem to have a bad reputation these days. When the rise of the internet first enabled people to meet strangers online, before meeting a la You’ve Got Mail, it seemed lame, perhaps even dangerous. As time went on, it got more acceptable. Many people no longer seemed embarrassed to reveal that they met their husbands via Tinder, as if it would previously have been shameful to not have come together via some romantic comedy-esque meet cute. But the tide seems to be turning once again. For some reason, app-bashing is back on the menu.
Last week, Michelle Obama caused international ire when she said that ‘you can’t Tinder your way into a long-term relationship’. Young couples, she argued, see relationship challenges as failures, rather than problems to be solved, and give up rather than fight for success. Critics complained that Michelle had no experience with Tinder and other such apps. She was married to a handsome future-President in 1992, a mere year after the world wide web opened to the public. Her statement seems to judge something she has little to no experience of.
Sharon Stone’s latest stance, at least, comes from real life. We know that she joined Bumble last year, because she was reported and blocked by fellow users who, presumably, couldn’t believe that the Basic Instinct star could possibly be looking for love online. Now, she has called app dating ‘dismal’, saying that ‘real chemistry, that frisson, happens in the air, not on a site, and people are becoming less socially adept.’
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CREDIT: © Instagram/ Gary Barlow
Celebrities and their lookalike children – Gary and Daniel Barlow
Take That’s Gary Barlow shared this snap of himself with his son, Daniel – who looks EXACTLY like his famous dad in the band’s heyday.
So, when did it become so cool to criticise a method that, for the most part, is bringing people together and efficiently? Before Tinder and Bumble, OKCupid and Hinge, there were limited options. You could be fixed up by friends. You could meet organically at a bar, a party or a wedding. Or you could put a classified ad in the paper. That was it. Your entire romantic potential was dependent on friends knowing someone eligible, coming across a match completely randomly, or spending money on a WLTM square of ink. Now, the world has opened up. You can match with reams of singletons on a wide selection of apps, some of which allow only women to make the first move, thereby reducing creepy male behaviour. It shifts the goalposts into safer, more comfortable territory: yes, you will receive gross messages from men – some men could find a way to sexualise ashes in an urn – but they can be ignored, blocked and avoided. The same cannot be said from a first date arranged after meeting randomly in a café: the first date is the first chance to discover what you’re dealing with, and these situations are harder to detach oneself from.
Sharon and Michelle obviously have a point. Of course the initial, first stage taking place on a phone removes that first chance of a real spark. Of course it would be nicer to meet someone on the dancefloor at a wedding, or beneath the mistletoe at a friend’s Christmas party. But that’s just not how life works anymore. The pool is shallow, and no longer full of fish. Dating apps drop the pool in the Pacific and expose us to a whole new world of options. Yes, there are sharks, but isn’t that worth the risk for love? And besides, we all know people who have found real love on Tinder. I have been to many, many weddings in the last decade where the bride and groom, groom and groom or bride and bride began their journey by swiping right. Is their love story lesser? Are they doomed? No, they just didn’t have a traditional beginning.
Criticism from those who have no experience with services like Tinder, or those whose lives are so, so different to the rest of us, raise interesting points on how romance and dating has changed in a modern world. But they are also ignorant to the real experiences of normal people, and risk shaming those who are looking for ways to find love. If it puts even one person off signing up, makes just one person ashamed to tell their friends that they may have met someone special via this avenue, then that’s a problem. Anti dating app? That’s your opinion. But forgive me if I swipe left on your anti-tech stance.
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