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Are We Swiping Left On Digital Dating?

A man called Barry Schwartz wrote a book. Name? ‘The Paradox of Choice,’ a work that, in millennial terms, explores the ability to swipe left or right on pretty much anyone that crosses our digital paths. With a bountiful array of dating apps, from the classic and almost “old news” Tinder, to more current wave makers such as Hinge and Bumble, could it be possible that this so- called ‘Paradox of Choice’ is allowing for too much to choose in the digital dating pool?

The days of love letters, heartfelt phone calls from telephone boxes and the 1950s-coined term of “taking it steady” have long gone, instead replaced in the turn of the 20thcentury by virtual conversations, catfishing and dating shows – perhaps Cilla Black was onto something with Blind Date back in the 90s.

We’re submerged in an era where technology is distorting our views of what dating should be, replacing courting with crude and cringe chat up lines found after a DM slider has taken his or her toll. We ghost as a way to end things and we’re hyper focused on sex which can be obtained by the simple swipe of a finger.

Current dating terminology would have our great grandparents turning in their graves; from ‘Curving’ which translates to letting someone down without explicitly telling them you’re no longer interested – yep, no kidding. To ‘Kittenfishing’ – or the PG version of catfishing, if you will – which is a term coined by dating app Hinge meaning someone has used a false or heavily edited photo of themselves… so, um, probably most of us? It’s undeniable that we’re constantly reimagining dating but perhaps not in a good way, making behaviour shown in The Notebook and such seem utterly “old school” as people replace Noah Calhoun’s with one-drink Gary’s from the sweaty local nightclub.

In fact, Dolly Alderton summed it up when she said “[people] forget that the great dates happen about five times in your life. And my law of averages would suggest that one of those men will ghost you, one won’t be over his ex, and one will be the type of man who puts on a good date with everyone, like a charismatic magician on a sell-out national tour.”Could good dates be a thing of the past – and if so, why?

Dating shows like MTV’s “Are You The One?” “Celebs Go Dating,” and, of course, the “doing bits” classic that is Love Island have drawn us in as the guilty pleasures that they are. Yet, these shows and the other hundred out there, focus entirely on aesthetics, face value “beauty,” and judging books entirely by their orange-tinged, veneer wielding covers.

Reality TV seems like a relatively harmless form of escapism, but whilst we submerge ourselves in the Dani and Jacks of the world, are we losing sight of what it really means to date? We feel we know the people on the screen, we cut drinks with friends short to rush home for our 9pm sofa appointments and this, in turn, could quite easily lead to a disconnection with people in real life, leading to a life overcome by virtual relationships.

Perhaps it all began with MSN. Remember when you’d rush home from work and wait anxiously for the screen to load, and God forbid the circling blue men froze in transit. Logging on to a sea of emoticon heavy names, of which yours was ‘tastybiatch__xox’ you’d fire across winks and love hearts until the small hours until one or both of your parents told you to close it on down. Could it be that MSN was just a building block to what became a towering catastrophe made from heartbreak and swipe lefts?

Let’s face it; dating shows are intoxicating. In Celebs Go Dating we see the likes of Stephen Bear, Meghan McKenna and Gemma Collins searching frantically for love amongst a sea of us “nobodies”. Whilst it comes with its entertaining moment or two – take Gemma walking out on her man after just four minutes – there’s also the poignant message that comes with the show; if even celebscan’t find love, what chance is there for the rest of us?

The issue with dating shows is that they portray an inaccurate image of how to find love; let’s face it the chances of all being stood, Mojitos in hand, in a bar with a group of single celebs isn’t the most realistic of scenarios. Or take that weird US show ‘I Wanna Marry Harry,’ where single, royal-hungry females fought for the love of a fake Prince. Dating shows are purposely designed to be excessive and wholly overblown, but that’s kinda why we love them!

Yes, 2019 dating is like fighting a no-dates, crossed wires and cringey bios war which shows no sign of getting that much better! Yet there’s no denying that, for the singletons, dating apps can be super handy ways of finding a soulmate. There are millions of success stories, and people are downloading for a reason – evenif it is to clock in on that one-night stand.

Have millennials in fact adopted a culture of un-dating? Quite possibly! We’re getting married later due to a breezier approach to life milestones which, granted, isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does pose the question of why our approaches to dating have altered so consequentially and whether it could all come down to digital options and dating shows – things our parents, and our parents’ parents simply didn’t have access to – their biggest ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ moments taking place in the dance hall.

Looking on the bright side, dating shows can show us how notto do it. Love Island contestants jumping from love interest to love interest does become a little cringe, but relationships like Olivia Buck and Alex Bowen’s, resulting in marriage – twit, twoo – can show us that things aren’t all disastrous on the shows and that love can be found, between the “I’ve got a text,” lie detector mayhem of it all.

Whether the digital dating craze of 2019 is good, bad or indifferent, hungry singletons are going to continue to fire up their apps and let’s face it, we’re never going to stop watching a bunch of randoms whipping their kits off in Naked Attraction…

Now, Ex On The Beach, where was I…

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