We shouldn't swipe right on dating apps anymore


Dating apps harm our pursuit of genuine love, you won't catch me on them

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Image by Julia Scribbles

By Ethan Reuter

Oh God, a straight white man - without a relationship, it should also be mentioned - has an opinion again. Please call me, I promise I’ll be free. Does his ego know no bounds? Surely this is proof someone should finally check his privilege. The final sanctum, where you're free from our loud, brutish and ignorant opinions has been breached. Not even dating advice is safe anymore. I speak with the knowledge that I have the least qualified opinion possible and so I won’t hold it against you if you disregard everything I say from this point on.

Tinder had never been a problem before uni,  I didn’t use it, I didn’t really know anyone who used it, I was free from its grasp. Cliche as it may be, ignorance is bliss. My life now is markedly different at university, and I get the distinct sense I’m never going back. My problem, principally, is that it removes all of the things that make relationships work, removing personality, removing person. Stitched into the fabric of our online cloak is the inanity of opening lines and the banality of whatever happens next. There is nothing left of the other side.

In our undying quest for someone to hold us when the sun goes down, we commodify ourselves. The tech bros have won, we are becoming the production line. It’s a mass sterilisation of identity. The liberal utopia of Silicon Valley’s dreams. Reflecting, the venture feels akin to online advertising, an app for our own personal ads, where some of us are lucky enough to be Saatchi & Saatchi, some of us are Saul Goodman, none of us really ourselves anymore. Yes I like dogs, yes I like Taylor Swift, yes I like novels, yes I like going out, yes I’d actually like the reckoning or rapture right about now, thank you very much, that sounds like a fantastic tonic.

Now I’m not saying the real world is much better - lord knows it can be a lot worse - because that flirtatious temptress that’s eyeing you up from across Ziggy’s basement is hardly going to be the love of your life. I doubt they’re looking for their prince charming either. Nor is it likely that the person glancing at you from those painfully sharp shouldered library chairs is going to walk down the aisle, but that isn’t the point, at least not right now. The point is that you have to interact, talk, and get to know the person. You have to be yourself, acne included.

In some parts, I’m sure, this is the beauty of Tinder, and apps like it. There are no consequences, no requirements placed on the reality of your person, and as such, it becomes a hobby. One glorified game of smash or pass, to the joy and excited giggles of flatmates as you swipe left and right, basking in the knowledge that nothing is going to actually happen. I can’t quite shake the sense that it doesn’t help the whole love thing though. It has nurtured a culture of sliding standards and an overall feeling that we can get away with not trying when we should, because after all, there’s another profile waiting. A charge, I know, I can be tried and found guilty of, to the first degree.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon has translated to the outside world as well. The decent, polite even, thing to do now appears to be breaking up with someone in the back corner of a Nando’s. Or so the anecdote goes, when explained to me earnestly in Courtyard. Hurriedly, she’s calling it quits after a flurry of dates in front of bland wing roulettes and meagre chicken wraps, what a way to go. It’s hardly Annabels or The Ivy, I’m sure you’ll agree. Where next, the Welcome Break in Derby? I hear the Greggs there is lovely this time of year. The send off they deserve. This story is only bested by a former section editor at this very paper. They, in good conscience and heart, have broken up with someone in a Wetherspoons before. You know the pubs I mean. The ones with the cheap pints and a stench of deep seated regret that paints the slow continuity of time. Let's hope it fares better for their current relationship. The bar is low, I’m sure you’ve gathered, for our future, and our editor selection process.

Maybe, I ponder, self-aggrandisingly, that I don’t actually dislike these apps, instead it’s that I won’t like myself on the apps. It takes a certain level of confidence and conditioning to position yourself at the epicentre of the online world just so complete strangers can brutally decide, yes, or, no. Silent rejection beckons 1,000 times over. One day, I’m sure I’ll succumb to the pressure, to those narcissistic impulses and make a profile which lacks any distinct quality. Before that day, there is hope, and recent inventions such as the PearRing, calling themselves the world’s largest social media experiment, offer a cure-all. Simply wear as a man (or woman) about town and you’ll make genuine connections as a live dating experiment. It works as a ring that's worn to identify who's single in real time and open conversation in the real world. It’s perfect, don’t you think? They've invented a continuous amplifying megaphone, that tells everyone you’re living an involuntarily solitary, lonely life. For £25 I can look less like a pear and more like a lemon.

Great! With all hope lost, and on the advice of my most trusted friends, I’m off to break up with my situationship in the Blake Street McDonalds. Take that Wetherspoons, Nando’s, and all those dating apps!