‘The Talk:’ Dating apps connect people but can cause various harms in the process

Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and Match.com; just a few of the many dating apps that bring people together daily, whether it be for a night or longer, but how are they affecting the people using them?

According to the BBC News, one of the most popular dating apps, Tinder, launched in 2012 and only two years later was registering over a billion “swipes” a day. Clearly, the daily activity on dating apps is quickly increasing. These apps are being used all over the world, including here at Iowa State.

Samuel Bruner, freshman in pre-business, shared his experiences with dating apps.

“I’ve made relationships both romantically and friendly,” Bruner said. “A few of them lasted for a week, some I still talk to over a year later. The positive relationships strongly outweigh the negative ones.”

For many, dating apps give people a place to start when they are seeking a new relationship, but don’t know where or how to find one. It’s as easy as downloading an app, writing a quick biography and throwing in your best selfies. Within ten minutes you can begin “swiping” on countless people in your area.

“Dating apps are a great way to meet new people, and ultimately benefit society … I think everyone should give it a try, dating apps work and even if you’re not looking for anything serious you can find someone out there for you,” Bruner said.

Dating apps bring people together who would have otherwise never had a reason to meet. There are even a variety of dating apps for people with specific interests, whether it be Farmers Only or Christian Mingle, there’s bound to be a site for you.

“I think dating apps have the possibility of bringing people together who are less comfortable with casual conversation or in person communication, and that means there are more avenues for more people to find romance, love, sex or whatever it is they’re looking for,” said Michael Goebel, lecturer in women and genders studies. “However, we have to see the other side of this, too. These apps have the potential to dehumanize people, depict them as objects, and turn relationships/dating/sex into commodity exchanges.”

Goebel made a key point when discussing the harm that dating apps can enforce on those using them. These apps can quickly become an unhealthy source of validation for many, and can even negatively affect those who don’t receive as many positive reactions and responses to their profiles as they would like.

“On tinder people are judged by how they look and how they portray their photos,” said Kenneth Scott Bredehoft, a freshman in pre-business. “I think for a lot of guys it can ruin their self-image if they don’t get it right because they won’t get many matches.”

A common harmful event caused by dating apps is something many people call “catfishing”. Catfishing is when someone creates a fake identity for themselves, whether it be by using pictures of someone other than themselves, or falsely depicting themselves through a made-up persona, it can be disheartening to know the person you’ve been talking to isn’t real, and can even become dangerous.

“There are a lot of disingenuous people out there who can tailor profiles that don’t actually convey who they are,” Goebel said. “It’s really hard to start a meaningful connection if you are unsure whether you are talking to the real person or the fiction they created to be more likable, datable, exciting on a profile.”

However, there are many dangers that come along with all social media nowadays, and it is important to always be looking out for yourself. Tinder provides a dating safety guide in which they give advice for having the safest Tinder experience.

Tinder reccomends to get to know the other person, always meet and stay in public places, tell friends and family of your plans, transport yourself to and from the meeting and stay sober.

“Most of the experiences have been positive,” Bredehoft said. “I’ve met a lot of friends and gone on a few dates since I started using dating apps. The best was when I met a girl who had been cheated on recently just like me and we connected a lot because of our experiences.”

Bruner has also had positive engagements on dating apps and mentioned that they were a place for him to meet new people here at Iowa State and gained not only romantic relationships, but also companions.

“Friends just looking for someone to talk to or feeling lonely in a big place far away from home,” Bruner said.

Although they may always have a certain stigma or negative connotation, dating apps have shown to be a positive experience for many, and can benefit those seeking something new and different in their lives.

“I think for those people who are honest and put into an app a real version of who they are and connect with someone equally honest, it has the potential to raise self-esteem and reinforce the idea that there is that ‘someone’ out there,” Goebel said.