I've been dating the same wonderful man for nearly four years now. We met in a cafe, where he handed me his card and asked me on a date. Two days later, I called him to set one up. In contemporary context, there are two things that are unbelievable about this story:
1. That I actually picked up the phone to call him, and did not send a text.
2. That actual in-person human interaction took place prior to our first date.
Even when my now-fiancee and I finally met in person, he was surprised by my will to call as opposed to just text. And he's 20+ years older than me. Modern-day dating practices are not just tainted for/by young people, but for everyone.
Don't get me wrong, I love the conveniences of the internet just as much as the next person (getting whiskey delivered to my door within 5 minutes a la Postmates at 2 in the morning? Yes, Please.) However, in terms of dating, it seems the internet has poisoned more than it has progressed this aspect of human life. Dating apps litter our phone screens like incessantly shiny pennies we find on the street. We think they'll help us get lucky, but in hindsight, they're full of empty promises.
The danger of dating apps is the illusion of idealism they create. You immerse yourself in these infinite directories of supposed singles, essentially crafting a partner to your idea of perfection - or so you think. You swipe left on Amy because her bio is empty and boring, swipe left on Giovanni because he has an eyebrow piercing, and swipe left on Nick because ew, seriously, what is wrong with his chin? You do not even stop to consider that Amy might just not be good at writing about herself, Giovanni's piercing is a phase that's immaterial compared to his in-person charm, and Nick just takes terrible pictures and can't figure out the right camera angles. Too late, though. You've placed them in the discard pile.
I look at my current partner, with his tender demeanor, salt and pepper mane, and strong hands, and think to myself what I would have done if I came across him on a dating app. I probably would have swiped left because I would've been too worried about the complications our age difference would pose. I also would've swiped left on the best four (and counting) years of my life.
Sure, in reality, asking someone on/agreeing to a date is based on surface impressions too. You don't give the cute waiter your phone number because you think he might have a nice personality, you do it because, well, he's cute. But, there are other things that come into play here too, such as the existence of invisible but unquestionable chemistry, the fact that you're in the same place at the same time, and the fact that you're not surrounded by a thousand other people promising to be a great match for you also. You're enticed by the privacy, individuality, and excitement of that moment. That doesn't happen with a dating app. You don't feel the buzz of being in the presence of someone you sense an inexplicable attraction toward, or feel a connection with.
All of this is not to say that dating apps don't have their unicorns. Sure, I've known a couple of people that found promising relationships through Tinder. However, a couple versus the hundreds I know that have found it from in-person interactions (being in the same class, club, cafe, whatever it may be, at the same time) is not enough of a testimony. Because, I'm not looking at the handful of people that have found love on Tinder. I'm looking at the swarms of lonely but lovely, warm, and generous people whose hopes and positive outlooks have been alienated and abused by these dating apps.
In reality, most people don't turn their back on someone over a minuscule surface flaw and unimpressive two-line bio. And, if they do, it's only because expectations have been set so high by the prospect of infinite bachelors and bachelorettes on Bumble.
Keep in mind that this isn't my version of an attack on people who use dating apps, or just meet people online in general. It's just an analysis on the changing attitudes surrounding dating as a result of the immediacy and instant gratification that comes with dating apps. Using dating apps doesn't say anything about you as a person except that you seek companionship and happiness like every other person on this planet. I urge you look at this process objectively, though, and tally up the sources of your meaningful relationships against your meager ones. Then, ask yourself if you can offer as much on an app as you can in person, and consider the number of times that has caused others to make incorrect judgments about you.
In the end, the Tinder game may be a game of opposites: you're swiping right on the wrong people, and swiping left on someone who is right for you. And, as basic psychology has proven, opposites don't really attract.