#onlinedting | Tinder and other online dating forums empowers users to be more social

Photo by Victoria Saldana

CONTRIBUTING WRITER – LARRY RODRIGUEZ

Humans have an innate desire to form intimate connections with other people. In one psychological model, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it is essential to achieve what he called self- actualization which is to achieve the peak version of yourself. So, people make friends and try to capture the heart of the ever-elusive significant other. Some
individuals frankly have better luck than
other people at doing both things. But
what if someone didn’t have to be lucky
or good at dating. What if there was
a way to cheat the system and gamify
it. Introduce dating apps, where the
modern person doesn’t have to send a
sonnet or show up with flowers all they
need is a subtly elegant, “Hey wyd? ‘shy
monkey emoji.’”

Online dating apps have taken off in
recent years. But it’s not anything new.
Sure, the days of craigslist personal ads
are gone but the trend has been there for
years. A Huffington Post article published
in 2017 goes as far to argue virtual dating
has existed since the late 1600s. There are
tons of dating sites online. But this isn’t
a history lesson on dating apps, that’s
how you end up without a date. This is
a question of empowerment and whether
online dating helps its users feel better
about dating.

Among the most popular dating apps
is Tinder. Most people know how Tinder
works. Users swipe right or left, you get
one “super like” and that is usually used
accidentally with varying results. The
problem with Tinder and similar apps
is they are super easy to gamify. Things
like how often you swipe right and how
often someone gets or receive messages
increases their odds of appearing for
other users. Every user has a hidden score
determining how often they show up for
other users. This can be abused by only

swiping right on say, two out of every 10
potential matches, making a certain user
appear to be picky increasing that user’s
frequency on how often they show up for
others. Swiping often or casting wide nets
leads to the user appearing less often.

Online dating can certainly shift
someone’s perspective and feel
empowering for the user. It puts lots of
potential intimate connections literally
in your pocket. It can also help someone
put themselves out there. Skylar Tiner,
freshmen music major, is one of those
people who had her perspective changed.

“Using online dating has definitely
changed my view of dating,” Tiner
said. “I’ve realized that it’s hard, but
it’s a great way to meet people if you’re
shy in person.”

Specialty sites like Christian Mingle
can feel especially empowering for the
user because they cater to a certain
demographic. Chances are if someone is
on a specialty-based dating app then they
want to meet similar people too.

All of this can feel great, meeting people
in a non-traditional way and potentially
forming long-standing relationships in
whatever way that means for the users.
People don’t have to go to spin classes or
coffee shops, someone can just make a
nice profile and write a great bio. The fear
of rejection also fades because people only
get shown mutual matches. Hugo Parra,
freshman criminology major, believes
it is empowering because users can
control how they are seen.

“It’s empowering for users because
they can create their own profile,” Parra
said. “First impressions are important.
Allowing people to create their own
image helps to present yourself exactly as
you want to be shown.“

But empowerment comes at a cost.
Certain demographics, particularly men,
tend to really play the system. In a society
that places so much value in one’s sexual
desirability, the perception of having a
lot of desirability can lead to a power trip
of sorts. Pickup artists and men’s rights
movements alike have written books
and articles, created YouTube channels,
and have developed online communities
focused on the art of picking up
women. Those hidden scores are easy
to manipulate and it’s even easier to use
psychology to make a profile appear
friendlier and more successful. Thus,
leading to more positive matches for that
profile and appearing more often.

So, is it empowering for the user? It
can be incredibly empowering and lead
to good results for someone. People may
develop social skills they didn’t have or
might meet the person of their dreams
on Match.com, everyone has seen the
commercials. However, there can be a
dark side to all of this. Is that a risk that
society is willing to take? Swipe right and
find out.




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