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Dating & Technology: The New Age of Romance

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and as technology develops and users can’t seem to part their eyes from their smartphone, is the peak of modern romance becoming a ‘swipe to the right’? 

As a single gent, I’m probably one of the few in this day and age that finds modern dating, or even finding a date, a bit strange. If I meet somebody I like, they make me smile, make me happy, I make them laugh (obviously) and I’ll want to spend more time with them. I do wonder if you can get this interaction from a picture of someone on a dating site, sometimes with no indication of their likes and interests. The social expectations and pressure people put themselves under is also huge, with pressure to include perfect, candid photos and the funniest one-liner you can think of.

Since the internet became largely a social space, and social networking evolved from MSN (those were the days…), Bebo, Myspace to current social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, the digital world we live in is a different place to what it was ten, five or even two years ago. Dating has also evolved.  

Convenient dating apps and websites are becoming more of an influence on people’s romantic lives than ever. Nearly five million people using Match.com alone per month in the UK, and millions of others use more casual mobile dating apps that fit in better with their hectic lifestyles. But can you really rush your love life? Maybe I’m just strange by finding it all a bit of a lonely process, to go home and sit on your phone to find a date. It brings to mind the potential stories we’ll tell future generations:

"Mum, where did you and dad meet?" 

"Well Michael, your father swiped right and it all snowballed from that moment" 

Whoever said romance is dead? 

Of course I’m being rather cynical. Our lives are arguably busier than ever – some people are working longer, sometimes getting home just in time for some dinner and bed. Add to that the spectre of looming deadlines, 24/7 availability and social commitments and people are just too busy to go out into the real world and meet someone. Convenient dating apps go hand in hand with modern lifestyles, and there's a wealth of options: 

Match.com 

Match.com is one of the original online dating sites, starting way back in 1995. Match is more of a 'thorough' dating site, where people are matched on their hobbies, likes, dislikes and general interests. Match predated the swiping generation and focused on personality as much as, if not more than, looks. 

Plenty of Fish 

Whenever you found yourself single after the end of a relationship, you’d always hear the same phrase from friends and family: "there’s plenty of fish in the sea"; so these guys put the theory to the test. This dating app falls somewhere in the middle of Match.com and Tinder, on the basis that it requires input on your personal profile, yet it’s also convenient in how quickly you can access new potential dates. 

Tinder 

Ah Tinder, the birth of swiping. 

Since its launch in 2012, there has been a massive surge in user downloads. In 2014 there was around 1 billion swipes every day, with over 50 million users accessing the app every month, and around 10 million matches per day. If you’re unfamiliar with the whole swiping concept, imagine judging people instantaneously and swiping right if you like them, and left if you don’t - it's that simple! If you both swipe each other right, you’ll get a match and hurrah! Let the conversations begin. Tinder has a reputation as a 'hook-up' app, so be warned... 

Cupidtino

To be honest, this one is new to me. My colleague mentioned that there is a dating application specifically for owners of Apple products. Cupidtino’s theory is that Apple customers have a lot in common, whether that be taste and love for technology, that they’re working professionals, similar personalities and so on.

According to TechCrunch, Cupidtino is "like a neighbourhood café where the people are hip, decor is classy, conversation is intelligent and prices are reasonable. But it’s open at your convenience, folks are from around the world, and it’s less awkward to talk to someone."

To me this sounds like a good dating app for those who perhaps are a little shy and not after a ‘hook-up’ as other apps would suggest. I do wonder why it’s limited to Apple customers only, though I understand the exclusivity. I think in this particular industry, making apps appealing to the masses is the key to making a match.

Hater 

Yes, you read that right, Hater. You can now meet people based on mutual hate. If I get an account and say I hate Trump, I’m sure I’ll match with the whole of the UK (or I'd hope so!), which doesn’t really get me any further forward. Nonetheless, it’s good to see that new companies are really trying every approach to getting people together. This app also allows you to ‘love’ and ‘like’ topics, so it’s not as negative as it sounds, and it could lead you to someone with mutual personal values. Then again, I’d hate a date to be based on something really superficial: 

"Yeah I actually really like mushrooms, so, seeing you don’t, I don’t think we can go on a date". 

There is always a dark side to apps and companies based on user data and user profiles, particularly in relation to dating. Although there are obvious security concerns with online dating and creating profiles, WhatsApp has recently been hacked, and of course you’ll all recall the data leak of Ashley Madison (a website commonly used for extramarital affairs) back in 2015, which leaked the personal information of thousands of contacts that were signed up to the controversial dating site. Following this hack, Ashley Madison was only charged $1.66m rather than the expected $17.5m; the US Federal Trade Commission decided owner Ruby Corp would be unable to pay the full fine.

Another recent story (that I found quite funny and slightly absurd) was to do with a man who was caught cheating on his wife due to his Uber account sending his wife travel history notifications. This happened because he connected his account on his wife's phone to request a driver. Although he logged out of his account, the app continued to send notifications to his wife's phone about his journeys. They raised her suspicions and inevitably lead to a divorce. He is now attempting to sue Uber for the damages caused (Is that really Uber’s fault? Or is that a sweet dose of karma?... Some of you might want to check your Uber app settings). 

The new world of dating, at a first glance, looks hilariously chaotic. As someone who doesn’t see the romance in swiping your phone screen, I’ll stick to what I know best - actually seeing and speaking to people face to face. On the other hand, dating websites and apps allow people who are shy in person to interact and gel before meeting face-to-face. They also fit in to our hectic lifestyles, so maybe this is the way forward.

What are your thoughts on digital dating?

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