Why Dating Apps as part of our Culture

Dating apps enable us to do things we have never done before and are now often created to fit into a specific (sub)culture. This article discusses several dating apps using theories regarding globalization. 

History of dating

The famous opening line of Jane Austen's (1813) classic book 'Pride and Prejudice' runs as follows: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife." The expressed sentiment illustrates that the characters in the book, like most people, are much occupied with finding a partner, to attain things like love, stability or security.

A partner in the time of Jane Austen was usually handpicked or at least approved of by the parents. If you disagreed with your parents’ choice, or if your parents were unable to find you a partner, you would have to either accept your fate, or find different ways to look for someone.

The rise of newspapers created a solution for this problem, with their personal advertisements section, the analogue version of dating websites. It is estimated that the first personal ad was placed around the end of the 17th century and its popularity really took off in the early 18th century. However this does not mean it was a socially acceptable way of looking for a spouse. It was seen as a last resort for people with no other means of finding someone, for instance because they had no family of parents to arrange their matrimony (Cocks, 2009). The first woman to ever place a personal ad was Helen Morrison. She was even sent to an asylum by the government for four weeks, for it was believed she was mentally unstable.

Online dating apps

As stated before dating websites are basically the modern variant of personal ads. With the introduction of the internet in the 1990’s more and more people started placing their personal ads on websites instead of in newspapers and magazines. Dating agencies created websites to which people could subscribe (usually for a membership fee) to get suggestions on possible partners based on certain algorithms and the extensive questionnaires they had to fill in. With the introduction of smartphones and their applications (apps) online dating became even easier, and more importantly, more socially accepted. A research from 2015 by the BBC showed that the dating app Tinder was the 10th most popular lifestyle app in Canada that year and the 15th most popular one in the US.  

That same research showed that Badoo and Tinder are the most popular dating apps worldwide, Badoo being number one in 21 countries and Tinder in 18. So because of technology something that used to be seen as something that was a bit ‘shady’ or a desperate last resort, became something socially accepted and common behaviour. 

 Dating Apps

Tinder and Badoo are easily accessible apps and can be used by anyone, no matter your gender, age or sexual preferences, but there is more to find in the world of dating apps than just Tinder and Badoo. There are dating apps that focus on smaller communities, trying to connect people on certain common values or interests, for instance marginalised groups like homosexuals, ethnic minorities, but also elite groups, millionaires or extremely successful businessmen and -women. In deciding which dating app to subscribe to, users choose which part of their identity they want to emphasise in their dating life. Dating apps have created a new online culture, making people do things they have never done before, like creating a number of online personas, all different depending on the medium they are using.

The amount of and diversity in dating apps has expanded immensely over the last few years. There are for instance dating sites you can only subscribe to if you have attained a certain educational level, or look a certain way. In the US you can subscribe to www.trumpsingles.com or www.berniesingles.com to meet people with the same political views as you (dating website for Donald Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters). Just a little search on the internet will give you many different kinds of dating apps, such as dating apps for dog-owners, for beard-owners and beard lovers, and apps created by existing organizations, such as a meat company launching a dating app for meat lovers. It seems that dating apps try to come up with more and more unique subgroups to supply to everybody’s demands. The niche dating apps illustrate Appadurai’s (1996) theory regarding the local effects of globalization: they make a global phenomenon like online dating more local by focusing on one specific (sub)culture or community. 

I will now discuss a few different dating apps in a more detailed way to see what their aim is, who they’re aimed at and how they use specific values or interest to attract people from the same community. I start with Tinder, the most popular app in western countries, and then move on to three dating apps that are more at the margins, The Leage, AyoPoligami and TrulyMadly.

Why Dating Apps as part of our Culture Why Dating Apps as part of our Culture Reviewed by Author on January 20, 2021 Rating: 5

No comments:

Ad Home