I’d like to think of myself as a hopeless romantic. Despite how abysmal the future may seem — with death and destruction both imminent and concurrent — what remains ever-present is the love and affection that we provide one another. We all seek to find love, and for many that may mean succumbing to online dating.
Tinder, Bumble, Hinge — or as I like to call them, the trifecta of the apocalypse. They’re more affectionately known as the three online dating apps scrupulously used by college students in today’s dating landscape. Whether users are seeking long-term relationships, friends or just casual hookups remains on a case-to-case basis. Nonetheless, their popularity among college campuses remains high with various studies showing that more than half of college students use dating apps.
That’s not to say dating apps are completely moot. Nowadays, lots of people seem to have found their partner or sometimes even their spouse through an app. Many of my own friends have met their partners on dating apps. Obviously, it’s completely possible to find love through digital means. Still, I firmly believe that these apps cause far more harm than good.
For one, they completely exacerbate hookup culture. Hookup culture, or relationships that exist on the basis of sexual encounters, has become so deeply entrenched into our society that for many it has become an expectation. At a young age, especially in a college setting, exploring one’s sexuality is completely healthy and normal. However, for many, the desire for deeper connection is quite often packed away, as it’s believed that no one wants a relationship. Monogamy is too often the exception, not the expectation.
Companionship and love are human desires that we all crave, but in which we seem to have relinquished faith — why is that? For college students, particularly in the USC area, these apps are simply a way to satiate negative energy. They serve as more of a quick fix for insecurity rather than a means to find meaningful connection.
Doubting your desirability? Upload a few photos and receive likes in your Hinge home page or matches on Tinder by the next day. It creates a notion of optimization and of expecting replacement. Didn’t get a message back? Who cares when you have a shuffled deck of single individuals at your literal fingertips. Did I say singles? Perhaps not, as it’s even been reported that nearly half of Tinder users just so happen to concurrently be in a relationship. But it’s okay, don’t be distraught. After all, maybe your better match was just a few swipes away anyways, and how could you know if you stop swiping?
Why would you possibly put yourself in a position for rejection in real life when you can discover someone who is confirmed to find you attractive? We lose the desire and ability to have these vulnerable conversations when they are so easily avoided through a confirmed match.
Simply speaking, these apps have managed to commodify the most carnal of our desires: sex, love and companionship. They thrive in a generation that is more insecure than ever, and one that is desperately in need of interpersonal connection, even if short term, abysmal, and possibly toxic.
Let me be clear. There is no shame in using these apps. I use them on and off myself. Dating people you meet online is not inherently problematic or toxic. However, for many, these apps create a toxic relationship with oneself and with relationships that one may have with others.
Hinge leads with the tagline “an app designed to be deleted,” a sentiment that resonates with both the lucky handful who find someone great on the platform, and for those who realize the app has been a smash or pass game with other hot lucky singles. But at the end of the day, it’s also a game between themselves and their subconscious that has a ghost of a chance of a happy ending.