(Updated in October, 2016)
I have ambivalent views on the dating app trend, very much like the opening lines of Tale of Two Cities. They have positives and negatives. First of all, I am in direct target range of advertisers looking for validation and Big Data analysts on the prowl for lab rats.
Something though, has to be said about the de-humanization brought on by the virtual meat market. As a result, choosing a partner for love, marriage, sex, or even just a cup of coffee is as easy as walking into a department store and carting an item off the rack, for FREE. You no longer need balls to approach, confront or reject human beings. It’s like pissing in a public pool.
This filtered access provided to men and women by such artificial intelligence is viewed as a plus point. Independent women get to control their love and sex life, as per their terms and fancies. But this technology also enables to create a convenient comfort zone for con-men and creeps. (There was always that guy in college who couldn’t even make eye contact with his crush, but would incessantly flirt with smart aleck texts, all in the refuge of faceless anonymity. Today, he is a master stud on Hinge mind you!)
Walking into a bar, dropping a pick up line at a hot singleton and expecting something good to come out of it? Fat chance. Publicizing matrimonial desires in a textual column in the classifieds section, hoping that Mr. Right For You subscribes to that particular news paper and has his parents call yours? Tik tok. Going on a blind date, set up by your childhood friends, because you know nobody outside your office? Good Luck. On the greener side of the grass, behold dating apps, where your chances of finding true/momentary/one-sided/sexy romance, marriage, one night stand, FWB or even a free drink get quadrupled. Open the floodgates! #NotASponsoredAd #JustSaying
The concept of arranged marriage may be alien to foreigners and normal to us Indians. But “Arranged Sex” seems to be everybody’s cup of tea. T for Tinder that is. It is basically a conveyor belt full of hopeful candidates making best use of technology to expand their social circle and appease their libidos. No inhibitions, few criteria and loads of anxiety (So I’ve heard). It is the “anything goes” millennium. Protected, consensual casual sex with a person(s) a ping away. Who would have a problem with that? Perhaps the hopeless romantics- The girl with standards (Me, Myself and I?). The guy who doesn’t want to be one of the many. The heart on the mend but not on a rebound. The baby boomer future in-laws who want the virginal best for their Gen Y. These are people who are gladly comfortable with convention, mainly because it works for them. There are scores of others, however, for whom these are non-issues.
Another non-issue for cyber dating folks, it seems, is that of privacy. Fear of Big Brother cyberstalking into illegally, wrongfully and retroactively acquired secrets of your online history. (Willing participants, meet Ashley Madison.) Their typical retort is that today, even a one-time use of the internet betrays your past, present and future. So, worrying that details of your hunt for love and sex will be compromised is futile. We are all bugs caught in the world wide web.
Should this Hakkuna Mattata attitude be blamed on loose morals and low standards or should it be celebrated for braving vulnerability for a shot at non judgmental happiness? Is it reflective of the use and throw mentality toward relationships or is it merely an evolution of making acquaintance for the modern men and women on the go? The internet, after all, is where we operate and manage our lives. It seems like the only thing we don’t do online is bathe and defecate.
The world may be getting smaller thanks to major inter connectivity, but consequently there is less room for romance and innocence. The ironic consequence of hyper-communication. Time is intertwined with an opportunity cost and FOMO. Whether such social technologies are progressive or perpetuating speed over value remains to be seen. All I know is a fairytale meet-cute is going to read pretty funky with the line ‘It was love at first swipe’.