As social media continues to influence the world we live in, it’s no surprise that it would bleed into the dating lives of teens and young adults.
In former times, before the age of smart phones and easy access to the Internet, digital dating mostly took the form of either online anonymous chat rooms or dating websites, like match.com or eharmony.com, that take your basic information, likes, dislikes and so on, to find people you would be compatible with.
Oftentimes, these sites aren’t as effective as they advertise. They are slow, the matches aren’t accurate or compatible, or the price is too much, according to reviews on consumeraffairs.com.
Nowadays, websites and apps are emerging that combat these common problems found in the last generation of dating sites. They are relatively cheap or free, and they are quick and can be as easy as a swipe to the left or the right.
These elements of the new online dating scene are very appealing, especially to busy college students who never seem to have enough time, or who are looking for an easier, cheaper alternative to meeting new people.
A problem with some of these newer websites and apps is that matches are made based on outward appearance, rather than personality similarities or mutual interests.
Tinder is one such app. It’s free, local and simple to use.
“It’s like real life, but better,” according to Tinder’s website.
All you have to do is filter through pictures of local people your age and decide whether or not you like the way they look.
“It has to do with instant gratification,” said Anna Daines, a sophomore studying communication. “They don’t want to go through the work to try and get a real relationship, but it’s, ‘I want this now, so I’m going to go through this way to get it.'”
A concern that arises with these newer digital dating techniques is that they are often too focused on outward appearance. Apps like Tinder and dating websites like beautifulpeople.com encourage teens and young adults to seek approval from their peers or the community based on their outward appearance.
Tanner Tait, a sophomore studying computer information technology, said people tend to use these resources to feel important or validated by other people.
“It’s a popularity contest, and you just brag about how many ‘swipes’ you get to the right,” Tait said.
These dating resources, rather than being used to meet new people, quickly become the “judge’s panel” where worth is measured by selfies and swipes and where satisfaction is achieved by drawing attention to your outward appearance.
If your self-confidence is founded on what others think of you, then when the right opinions don’t come through, the foundation falters. The discouragement that follows comes from the feeling that you can’t be beautiful, that you can’t change your looks and that you are trapped inside a body that nobody will appreciate.
The best way to have confidence is to build it yourself. Dating sites are not meant to give you reassurance or self-esteem. That is your job, and you can accomplish it by knowing what makes you handsome or beautiful.
“For me, a lot of it is based off of personality, because someone can be really attractive, but if they’re a jerk, then I want nothing to do with them,” Daines said.
Instead of looking for social acceptance, teens and young adults should seek for satisfaction within themselves.
When it comes to dating, most people aren’t seeking out someone to look at. Most people are looking for someone they can enjoy being with, someone that interests them. If someone has a bad personality or attitude, then they aren’t likely to maintain a good relationship, regardless of how they look.
“Personally, for me, it’s expression,” said Sam Guthrie, a freshman studying computer information technology. “The way they express themselves, you can tell if they’re a jerk or if they’re really sad and depressed or someone who’s just lively and loves people. You can usually tell just by the expression on their face.”