Dating apps are ever-expanding pits of desirous despair

Ask anyone about joining a dating site in the ’90s and most of the world would think you’re, well … a little sad.

Fast forward to 2018, and your next date is at your fingertips, literally.

Around the world, at least 200 million people use digital dating services every month.

So it’s fair to say that technology has revolutionized the way we date. The possibilities are endless and the interactions are simple. Smartphones have put dating spaces in people’s pockets, virtual bars in which singles can mingle free from the constraints of social or physical geography.

And according to a technology correspondent at The Economist, Hal Hudson, rarely has such a core component of life changed so quickly.

In a recent piece he wrote, “Putting the Data into Dating,” Hudson looks at how exactly the internet overtook churches, neighborhoods, classrooms and offices as a setting in which people might meet a partner.

“Many people now feel quite happy swiping left or right on public transport, gossiping to their friends about potential matches. Screenshots of possible partners fly back and forth over WhatsApp and iMessage. Once confined to particular times and places, dating can extend everywhere and anywhere,” he explains.

“Many users, while welcoming the broadening of choice that the online world offers, are also becoming aware of its downsides. For those who find popularity on the apps, endless choice can become something of a burden.”

And with convenience, a slew of issues have come, namely decision fatigue, with all of the potential dates we’re presented with soon being put squarely in the too hard basket.

“Others talk of the exhaustion of trawling through endless matches, going on disappointing dates with some of them, then having to drag themselves back onto the net when it goes nowhere. There is a loneliness, too. The internet uncouples dating from other social activities which might comfort a shy or spurned heart in the offline world; love’s vicissitudes can be harder when taken away from the context of a club or church hall.”

Although as troublesome as it seems, Hudson says there’s no putting Pandora back in the box now.

“It is tempting to hope that people made unhappy by online dating will stop. But people do things that make them unhappy all the time, and businesses often profit from their sadness. Dating apps want existing users to keep using them, maybe even to start paying for new features. Desperation is not necessarily their enemy; the achievement of domestic bliss is certainly not their friend.”

Guess it’s back on the swipe in that case, then.

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