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Shallow pitfalls of online dating

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Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

Everybody wants to be loved, right? It’s why millions of people sign up to dating sites in order to find their perfect match. How many find their ‘significant other’ in this way?

One of the most popular dating apps is called Tinder. It is estimated to have almost 50 million users. The age range runs from 13 through to older generations. When it launched in 2014, people viewed suspiciously it as a cheap way to initiate casual encounters. But now, as more and more users have discovered, it has become less of a place to sort a quick hook-up and instead secure a more long-lasting relationship.

So what are the drawbacks?

First, apparently not every person who has signed up is actually single. Research has found that 42% of Tinder users are already in a relationship. Does this suggest that the app is fulfilling different needs to bringing together single people?

At the lower age range, 24% of teenagers who use Tinder admit that they have met up with people who they encountered online. Since the age restriction is as low as 13, shouldn’t we worry that there is something wrong? Maybe, they should bring the age restrictions up in order to protect minors who just follow their peers.

There are already some age restrictions in place. For example, the site doesn’t enable under-18s to access the older age range until they themselves turn 18. This might seem like a sensible precaution. Except that as Tinder is connected with an individual’s Facebook profile, the person is able to change their age on their profile which then changes their age on the Tinder account

Relationship sites are not only for the younger generations but are also aimed at the elderly. Already almost 22,000 senior citizens have signed up to Stitch – a kind of Tinder for people over fifty who are feeling lonely. Apps like this allow older people to feel young again and enable them to find someone with the same interests and perhaps find their type.

On the positive side of Tinder you can actually find people who share the same interests as you. But, it might not always have a happy ending. Imagine this scenario. One day you are searching through Tinder to find someone new. You come across a very attractive person who you share the same interests with, so you decide to ‘like’ them. A few hours later, you receive a notification stating that you have a new match. You go on Tinder and you realise it is the same person you liked earlier. You both start chatting, everything is going well, and then you realise they are thousands of miles away.

How would that make you feel?

Do we really believe that love at first sight can be seen through the screen of our smartphones?

Swiping daily through hundreds of people, looking for the “perfect” match based purely on their appearance - isn’t this just the shallowest process imaginable to find a ‘soulmate’?

-- Nikola Dzierzak is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds