There’s an App for That

Lakehead University students talk swiping right and dating in the 21st century

Sam Mathers, News Editor

Twenty years ago, Meg Ryan stood where the path curves at Riverside Park, and as Tom Hanks approached with his dog Brinkley, she said: “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” Thanks to Nora Ephron, online dating was romantic as hell in 1998.

PC – Warner Bros

Somewhere along the way, that seemed to change. Is online dating desperate now? Can you use Tinder and still be a hopeless romantic? Can you even be a hopeless romantic anymore??? Should you put your height in your Tinder bio? The Argus talked to sixty Lakehead University students to find out (but the answer to that last one is unanimously “no.”)

Ranging from Tinder, Bumble, and OK Cupid to Plenty of Fish, Badoo, and Her (plus one called BeNaughty), only 40% of students surveyed said they had tried a dating app – but 75% have a friend that uses them. When asked if they thought there was a stigma around using dating apps, 66% said yes. Yet most people were quite open to discussing the topic – only a handful of students wanted to remain anonymous or flat out said no.

Jak Loree-Spacek, an Engineering student at L.U. says that, “you make [your dating profile] yourself, so you get to influence [what people see]. You get to give a really, really, in-depth first impression…some people think that when you connect over a dating app it’s a lot more shallow than if you make a ‘natural’ connection, no matter how true that might be.”

Many think the judgement mostly lies with the older generation. One student, who prefers to remain anonymous, notes that “in the past you would always meet with someone face to face and that’s how you would get to know people, whereas online you read through a profile and it’s quite a different approach, so I think people don’t really like how that’s changing.”

Others added that it might depend on the app you’re using or the person you’re telling. Another student, also preferring to remain anonymous, noted: “people think it seems desperate or promiscuous, and sometimes dating apps have a reputation of having ‘creeps’ or people who just want to have sex, so that might be part of [it].”

Darya Parzei, who is completing her Masters in Education, doesn’t think there is a stigma, especially among Millennials. She says: “I think now everyone is so modern and busy, that it’s hard to find someone and say ‘oh, I met my husband, or whatever at a grocery store’ – like, everyone is looking at their phones and their heads are down. I don’t think that’s reality anymore, so I think the fact that the reality has shifted to us being a very tech society…that’s how [you] meet someone.”

In fact, when asked if they would be comfortable telling people that they met their significant other through a dating app, over 70% confidently said yes, while 16% gave a definite no and 10% grappled with the thought before saying they would tell some people, but not everyone (what your Grandma doesn’t know won’t hurt her.)

While most students felt like they might be judged for using a dating app, no one seemed to judge anyone else – and most people would shout it from the mountaintop if they met their significant other on one. It appears that this so-called stigma is all in our heads. So, swipe on. Download Bumble (or BeNaughty—if  that’s your thing.) Worry less about what other people think and more about the people who list their height like it’s an achievement (but if that’s your thing, then that’s OK too.) You never know who you might meet – maybe even someone to fight with about which video to rent on a Saturday night, for as long as you both shall live.