App craze: Dating in the digital world

Brian Bi/Staff

Dating was once a chivalrous event in which a person would see someone from across the room, approach them and hope for a chance to grow a more profound connection past their initial attraction. Yet, with the evolution of technology in our culture, dating has taken a digital turn.  

Today, we have a tendency to avoid the scary in-person moment — when your heart skips a beat and your hands tremble while you approach that gleaming smile across the room. Dating apps help us avoid the inner turmoil we face in reality by conveniently allowing us to unmatch or even completely delete a whole app if we do something we regret. We take less than 30 seconds to swipe and send a quick “Hey” if we’re really interested. 

Welcome to the digital world of dating: an era in which you can simultaneously date as you sit through a lecture or binge-watch your favorite Netflix original, a time when your heartstrings are tied to the ability to swipe left on your crush. 

The dating app craze comes with its own set of unspoken rules for how to navigate them. The expectations are not always clear and are mainly in the user’s control, but there are often universal similarities across each app. If you’re looking to casually date or for an intro to the possibility of commitment, download Tinder. It comes with lots of previous connotations surrounding its purpose, but honestly, there’s more to it than what people give it credit for. It may be known for its “Netflix and chill” reputation, but although rare, people have indeed found their significant others using it. It’s also a great way to meet new people or test out your best pickup lines. On top of that, Tinder bios can be extremely creative, so even if you do not find anyone, you will get a laugh out of it. Give it a shot — just keep an open mind, stay safe with your decisions to meet people in person and don’t download the app with too many expectations. 

A similar dating app that has students buzzing all over Berkeley has emphasized conversing to keep the intrigue alive: We’re talking about the “message first, decide later” app Bumble. While it’s still not always classified as an app of serious commitment, Bumble filters out the folks who will swipe for days with no intention of talking or meeting up. It requires that someone, depending on your chosen sexual orientation and gender preference, message within 24 hours, or the match expires. That beautiful creature you saw at Caffè Strada last week who you were dying to talk to will dissipate into digital nothingness if you don’t get bold and type hello. Bumble can be stressful if you are on the busier side or easily forget to respond in the allotted time. Yet, some people see it as the push they need to shoot that winning shot and receive an introduction into a possible future of love and happiness. Regardless of your preference, this app tends to end in more relationships and less one-night shenanigans than similar apps do. 

A much-loved alternative to swiping culture is the new app sweeping millennials across the nation called Hinge. This app is known to be more time-consuming but more personal than the other apps mentioned. The effort put into considering each single who is ready to mingle is much more involved. You do get to learn a bit more about their personality from the questions they answer and what they are looking for in a relationship, however, rather than just a quick bio and a few staged photos. That being said, with more information comes more energy and intent on actually being in a committed relationship. So if you are really looking to take your virtual banter into reality and meet up with a potential companion, Hinge might not be a bad place to start. If that’s not the move you’re going for, then other apps, although maybe not as rewarding, require significantly less effort.

The possibilities for digital dating are endless — there’s an app for every thought and desire in this day and age. If you’re a struggling hopeless romantic wishing the days of getting someone’s lapel pin like in the 1950s or having an afternoon picnic with someone who just wandered up to you in class didn’t feel so in the past, you may be turned off by the way society’s dating expectations and actions have changed in the modern-day United States. That doesn’t mean you simply have to succumb to letting your life be taken over by technology; you just may have to be the one to make the first move. Whether that may mean swiping right or initiating the conversation, the ball is ultimately in your court. 

It can be easier to hide behind a mobile device waiting for validation from your crush, but swiping culture only goes surface deep — judging someone by their bio and a couple strategically chosen photos can only tell you so much. That doesn’t mean digital dating can’t transition into real-life, head-over-heels, love. It’s possible, and it has happened for some, but don’t discount your abilities to take charge of your own love life via in-person interactions. 

Contact Summer Kailani at [email protected].