Online dating has grown dramatically over the past few years —what was once a taboo form of meeting new people has quickly become a social norm among millennials. Using dating apps on college campuses like Geneseo, however, plays a different role in hookups than in regular cities or towns.
Through dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble or Grindr, people generally swipe right for someone they are interested in and left for someone they are not. If two people both swipe right for each other, they will form a match, giving them a chance to message one another.
One of the biggest pros of dating apps is the elimination of rejection. When flirting in real life at a bar or a party, the fear of rejection is consistent among many. On dating apps however, the apps do not show people who have rejected, or swiped left—only people who have also swiped right. This aspect provides people with a “low stakes” dating life.
Due to this new “low stakes” dating game and accessibility, many are prone to using dating apps. People on dating apps communicate strictly through virtual means before meeting face-to-face for the first time. “Modality switching” is the label used to describe the transition between online communication and offline interaction. This phenomenon makes the dating scene today completely unique from any other time in history since communicating via messaging creates a different dynamic than the one created through talking face-to-face.
With 50 percent of all Tinder users being between the ages of 18 and 24, dating apps increase the amount of familiar faces seen on campus. Colleges are notorious for awkward bump-ins with past hookups. Many people share the awkward experience of seeing a Tinder match in person on their way to class or in Starbucks. When combining the aspects of proximity and the large number of users, one is bound to find at least a few people they know on their dating app of choice.
But dating apps aren’t just for straight people. Dating apps specified for the LGBTQ+ community—such as Grindr—are incredibly important in helping these individuals make connections. Even though the dating pool for the LGBTQ+ community may be smaller than the dating pool for the heterosexual community, inclusivity is vital.
According to a survey from grabhim.net, nearly one in three homosexual males between the ages of 18-50 use Grindr. In a small school environment like Geneseo where many people in the LGBTQ+ community know one another, finding someone on Grindr can be a means to verifying people’s sexual preferences.
While dating apps are helpful in meeting new people, there are always risks to meeting up with someone you have never met before. Using dating apps in college are generally less risky however, because you are more than likely to share a mutual friend with someone that you match with. This aspect diminishes the anxiety behind meeting a stranger on the Internet—it’s difficult to find someone in Geneseo with whom you have no mutual friends. That said, it is always important to be careful.
Technology has increased the amount of connections people make on a daily basis, eliminated the fear of rejection and even created apps for women such as Bumble and LGBTQ+ people such as Grindr to feel more comfortable.
But there are still aspects of the dating process that technology has not and cannot accommodate for. The awkwardness that occurs during the first date—whether you met online or in person—still exists and likely will never cease to exist. False expectations, too, are a risk that one takes when using a dating app as well as dating in person.