By: Kaitlin Zani

Throughout the past decade, the influence of technology has played a role in the ways people are communicating. With the factor of being able to meet people at the click of a button, those who are on a social media app or website now have the ability to get in contact with someone easier than ever before. 

With the rise of social media apps such as Instagram and Facebook, came dating apps known as Tinder and Bumble in 2012 and 2014. Tinder’s method is to swipe left or right based on the person’s appearance. Bumble took a different approach to match people by setting up their app in the way that the woman has to initiate the conversation with the man she matches with. The app was purposely set up this way to differentiate themselves from other dating apps, therefore the woman does not feel pressured to interact with the man. 

One thing to keep in mind when going on a dating app is understanding that the person behind the screen may not be who you are meeting. “A majority of online daters say they found it at least somewhat easy to come across others on dating sites or apps where they were physically attracted to or shared their interests,” according to the Pew Research Center. Regardless of the conversation had on the app, many people who have been on these platforms claim that who they talked to through the app was not always who they met.

 The term “catfish” is a person that you talked to, however when you meet in person they present themselves with a different identity then they did on the app. It is unfortunate that this happens, but a way to make sure that who you are meeting is actually the person you had contact with is asking them to send a picture directly to you. Doing this provides confirmation that the person you talked to behind the screen is the same person. 

Mount Saint Mary College professor Dr. Paul Schwartz said, “although many people feel that online dating is geared toward the younger generation, I feel that older people may benefit more so from it.” Schwartz then elaborated that the way in which elder people are meeting in this time is different than what it used to be. “When you are at your place of work where you have been for many years, you only have a certain group of people around you. However, young people have the capability to meet at a friend’s house, in their classes at school or even parties,” said Schwartz. 

Besides this component, there are a variety of online dating methods that are not just on dating apps. One factor that comes into play when online dating is age and generation. For example, a 60-year-old man might not be on dating apps, but rather Facebook or another platform where it is more accessible and easier to understand for a man his age. Environment is also another factor whereas someone from Brooklyn, N.Y. may date differently in comparison to a person in Montana because of the environment around them and the places where they could meet.

One college student has been on the dating app Tinder, and shared that although she was able to find a relationship on the app a couple years ago, the apps are much different than what they used to be. “I think the app is personally all a joke. Yes, it works for a variety of people, however you really cannot understand who a person is based on their profile picture and a description. Overall, I believe these apps are used for the entertainment purpose rather than to find a relationship,” she said.

However, Michael Rosenfield, a sociologist at Stanford University reported that online dating seems to steer people in the direction of marriage in a way that real life dating does not. “You can be more selective because you have a bigger group to select from. When you’re using online dating, and there’s the possibility of selecting on characteristics that you know you’re going to like, you’re going to know a lot more about people before a first date.” Besides this factor, there tends to be communication between the two parties before a first date, thus providing the chances for a better time and more conversation because you know about the individual before you meet in person.