Tinder and the rumors of the "Dating Apocalypse"

By Matt Silich

Current and incoming college students have likely heard ad nauseam that our generation, the “millennial” generation, is tragically failing the expectations of the Baby Boomers at every turn, wreaking havoc upon socioeconomic norms and generally tearing at the fabric of society.

The latest millennial behavioral trend that brings shame to our elders is the younger generations’ frequent use of online and mobile dating applications, with the most prominent being Tinder.

Tinder, for those still unfamiliar with the app, allows users to swipe their screen after viewing a brief profile of other local Tinder users in their area. Swipe one way, and the potential date’s profile disappears forever. Swipe the other way, and Tinder will alert the other user of one’s interest and allow the two to message each other.

The catch is that a user is only alerted after both parties have approved of each other’s profiles. There is no notification for rejection on Tinder. And after swiping one profile, the app immediately provides another candidate for judgment.

In the upcoming September 2015 edition of Vanity Fair, author Nancy Jo Sales pens an article entitled, “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse.’” The story contains interviews and anecdotes from Tinder users in the most populous boroughs of New York City, plus some from the University of Delaware and a smaller university in Indiana.

The Vanity Fair piece paints a picture of a bunch of millennials sitting at bars, refusing to engage in any face-to-face interaction, focusing solely on their phones as they furiously swipe right and try to find a match as quickly as possible.

Walking into a campus bar on nearly any night will surely result in a vision of multiple people on their phones, some of them using Tinder. But the insinuation by the Baby Boomer generation and this article that millennials are almost exclusively using Tinder for dating interactions, and are therefore creating a culture of hitting it and quitting it, is just wrong.

Just because some of those who live and socialize on college campuses are interested in hooking up with as many people as possible doesn’t mean that millennials are creating a hook-up culture, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the future of marriage is doomed.

To presume that earlier generations did dating the correct way, because they focused more on individual interactions than today’s millennials, is not just an intolerant view of social progress: t may be factually incorrect.

A study done by San Diego State University Psychology Professor Jean Twenge found that millennials are projected to have eight sexual partners during adulthood, while the Baby Boomers and Generation X have averaged 11 and 10 sexual partners, respectively.

The Vanity Fair article acknowledges this study, which shows that millennials are perhaps more conservative sexually than earlier generations, but casually dismisses it because it relies on a projection model and therefore hasn’t yet been proven true.

Yet the only evidence Vanity Fair provides for the dating apocalypse is taken primarily from the largest metropolitan area in the United States, which is likely going to be filled with young socialites hoping to meet as many people as possible and shouldn’t apply to the rest of our generation, necessarily.

Stories from Manhattan and a sorority house at the University of Delaware do little to provide evidence of a cultural phenomenon. There are millions of millennials across the entire country who do not use Tinder with the same frequency or in the same way as some of the interviewees.

And even if we accept the premise that millennials are less fond of commitment and more likely to have one night stands with their fellow world-wreckers, that shouldn’t be construed as a negative cultural shift.

Twenge’s study also found that 62 percent of millennials take no issue with pre-marital sex and 56 percent take no issue with same sex relationships. Instead of creating a hook-up culture where people don’t value each other’s feelings, there’s evidence that millennials are actually creating a culture where people are more accepting than ever of other people’s sexual habits.

Millennials are using today’s technology to meet more potential dates than ever before and there’s real statistical evidence it hasn’t resulted in more sexual activity on an individual level.

Like with any other technological advancement, millennials could benefit from learning how best to use Tinder and online dating while still maintaining the level of respect one might have during a more formal affair, such as a blind date.

Instead of trying to make millennials feel bad for meeting lots of people and pursuing sex with some of them, perhaps the Baby Boomers could learn about the new relationships that millennials are building and become a bit more tolerant of views that conflict with their own.

Matt is a junior in Media.
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