Opinion: Dating Apps Are Destructive

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Opinion: Dating Apps Are Destructive

Fuller Tice

Fuller Tice

Fuller Tice

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The way we find love is changing, especially for my generation. Once upon a time, courting a prospective lover by eye-contact, love letters or (gasp) conversation was preferable. Now we swipe left or right concerning one thing above all else: image.

According to Lendedu, 72 percent of millennials use Tinder with an estimated 1.6 billion swipes per day. In the LGBT+ community, using the dating, excuse me, hookup app “Grindr” is a normal part of being on the spectrum. The prevalence of these apps compromises two key ingredients for a healthy relationship; reliability and meaning.

Beyond that, they have crippling effects on self-esteem and, by extension, your perceived value. Dating apps are therefore destructive and unhealthy and should be abandoned in favor of personable ways to connect.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), users of the popular dating app “Tinder,” men and women alike, have reported low self-esteem after using the app. More broadly, “addiction-like” tendencies to technology, which is what dating apps promote, also increase rates of depression and low self-esteem.

Why is this? I suspect this trend exists because of one thing: the standardization of a certain type of look.

As a gay man, I have direct experience with this phenomenon. Once upon a time, I went on the popular app “Grindr,” which is a geo-location app that allows you to see prospective partners in your immediate area. Unlike Tinder, you do not have to swipe or “match” to talk to them.

Everything is open season. Unlike some of my peers, I did not have very much success with this app. Multiple people that I spoke to would block me, tell me they weren’t into “blacks” or “chocolate,” or the most ominous one of all:  “you just aren’t my type.”

Sometimes, even people I knew in real life would block me on these apps and forsake a friendship, all because I didn’t check their vain box. For the longest time, I thought something was wrong with me, and these comments only strengthened that mindset.

But body dysmorphia is a trope of being gay. According to the APA, a fifth of gay men avoid sex because they have a negative self-image of their physique. The same study says 45 percent are dissatisfied with their “masculinity,” with muscle tone and other features traditionally associated with masculinity being a concern.

After reviewing these facts, I knew that it wasn’t me who had the issue; it was those who reduced me to my lack of muscles, arbitrary manly attributes or other things absolutely out of my control.

Dating apps only enhance these issues, taking them from the real world where they can be more easily dealt with, to making us victims of anonymity, ghosting and the deterioration of our self-worth. Embrace your individuality and move past these apps, you’ll feel much better.

Meaning and authenticity also go to die in dating apps. Does it not mean more to lock eyes with someone, muster up the courage to interact with them and see how things develop? This basic human encounter is impossible on dating apps, where genuine interest is replaced with a screen and a still image.

This is only compounded by the amount of options available on the apps as well. With hundreds of people populating these apps in any given area, if someone doesn’t want to talk to you, they can stop responding and move onto the next person. This is called “ghosting.”

On these apps, you’re viewed as a part of a whole mass of people, not the whole yourself. Not only that, but the lack of social consequence prompts people to send lewd messages without getting to know you. These places are not conducive to love and meaning; just gratification and empty desire.  

There are plenty of counters to all of this. You may say “I met the love of my life on these apps.” Good for you, but your individual experience doesn’t account for thousands of instances of ghosting, depression and meaninglessness brought about by these apps.

Another counter is that they are the most efficient way to meet. This is nonsense. The world is a place of infinite possibilities with seven billion (and rising) people on it. Even in a secluded area, interaction creates connections, and that can lead to something.

A final counter is that they’re a tool and “they are what you make it.” But they are interactive and involve other living, breathing humans. You cannot effectively control the actions of other people, especially in an environment where you can’t even look at them.

Overall, dating apps are places of frustration, broken connections and missed possibilities. The good news? Reality still exists, and you are in it. Wink at that crush you see, pursue someone (respectfully, please) you’re interested in and build your life on a foundation of self-love instead of vying for the love of others.

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