Wireless Bidet
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Wireless Bidet

Dating Apps — A Social Cancer in the Making?

Written by AnthonyB. as an essay for the class on Ethics of Community.

Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, we the people now have instant access to what we want. Movies and music? No problem — it’s on your phone. Food and Shopping? No problem — you can do it online! But what if I told you, that technology is now even attempting to bring you instant access to one of the most important aspects of life — Love itself.

Dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr have been around for several years now. They all operate using the same principles — all with the end goal of finding you a date or a partner. The method of operation is simple; after downloading the app, you then choose a profile photo, add a short bio then start finding a date. The application functions like a matchmaker — upon opening you are presented with the names and profile photos of fellow dating app users in your area — you can then swipe right if you are physically attracted to that person, or swipe left if it is a pass for you. After some hours, the app automatically matches you with another user, and you are now able to chat with one another. The rest is up to you on how you would continue.

Although the idea seems good, and even revolutionary on paper, little do people know that it has recently become its own breeding ground for a generation who doesn’t know how to love.

The flaws of dating apps can already be seen from the moment you start interacting with the user interface. You would notice that it treats people as if they were items in a grocery store or fruits fresh for the picking. The only information you are provided with would be their profile picture, name, and possibly a short bio. This type of UI subconsciously encourages people to prioritize physical features first before anything else. Matching with people via dating apps is like another way of subtly saying “the reason I want to match with you is that your physical appearance intrigued me”. Not only does this method of thinking promote discrimination, and lustful intent, but it also puts at stake the natural way people first meet. Naturally, it is by chance out in the real world — meeting people is not something that is forced nor manipulated like rats in a science laboratory.

Speaking of lustful intent, another one of the dangers of dating apps is that they further perpetuate hook-up, fling, and FUBU culture. It is pretty much an open secret by now that a large majority of dating app users are only using the platforms to find a partner for sex or to satisfy their urges — be it status, boredom, or similar. Instant access to sex itself can be as close as a few taps on your phone. It has even gone as far as becoming its own catalyst of legal prostitution, and I know people who can attest to those occurrences.

Then there’s also the side effect of how dating apps promote a consumerist “touch and go” lifestyle. It is a common observation that relationships built upon dating apps last very short, and some friends of mine have commented that the average length of one can be between just a few weeks to months. It is incredibly easy to find partners on Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr, and if you are bored with your existing one, you can easily replace him/her in just a few taps. Similar to how you throw out a plastic water bottle once it’s empty, you can always get another one when you are thirsty again. Although many can argue that the same consumerism can also happen in real-life dating, it cannot be denied that dating apps are like “steroids” that speed up, devolve and de-dignify the natural process. Dating is normal and natural while dating apps are unnatural and also dangerous.

Although it can be argued that the success or sanctity of a relationship built on dating apps depends on the people, it also cannot be denied that it is putting the sanctity of relationships as a whole at stake. This issue is somewhat similar to that of cohabitation. Although “how” a cohabitant couple ends up is ultimately decided upon a number of factors such as maturity or intention, statistics and research have proved time and time again that it nudges people to treat each other as pre-marraige “demo items” similar to how you would test drive a car before buying it. Reality is though, we are not items — we are people, who were put on the planet for the purpose of loving and loving correctly.

Correct love involves the giving of the self. It is a willingness to sacrifice or be put at an inconvenience for the sake of another person. There are no such things as free trials or demo time in love — true love must start from the moment friendship has been established. In dating apps, there is no giving of the self nor friendship, simply because the intention was not natural, or might even be malicious or selfish in intent. Based on my previous experience asking people why they used or tried dating apps, the response is always along the lines of wanting sex, boredom, desperation, or as an escape from an underlying mental illness or problem they don’t want to deal with. In short, it is a vice — a vice that not only encourages a consumerist way of treating people but also blurs the true meaning of love.

It is a disturbing fact that in my country, the Philippines, dating apps have taken the youth by storm, and it is now mainstream to see teenagers and young adults indulging themselves in these shallow love games. Ironically, Filipinos are a people known for their strong family virtues and upholding of love’s dignity. Instead of speaking the truth and discouraging such behaviors though, many nowadays choose to permit or even support the use of dating apps all in the name of political correctness and a flawed sense of liberalism.

Given that a relationship and its transcendence to marriage with children form the backbone for a family, and eventually the community, it is vital that the virtue of love is safeguarded from the start. Dating apps are a threat to the dignity of love, and their very existence slowly inches society towards meaningless relationships, selfishness, lust, and decadence. The very future of our community is at stake, and unless the topic receives more seriousness and open discourse, we are at the mercy of whatever humans choose to permit next.

Interesting references for further reading:

● J. Budziszewski — Revenge of the Conscience

● Anderson, M., Vogels, E. A., & Turner, E. (2020, October 2). 3. Americans’ opinions about the online dating environment. Pew Research Center: Internet, Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/americans-opinions-ab out-the-online-dating-environment/

● Holtzhausen, N. (2020, March 4). Swipe-based dating applications use and its association with mental health outcomes: a cross-sectional study — BMC Psychology. BioMed Central. https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-020-03731

● Dangerous liaisons: Is everyone doing it online? Daily English Global blogkasperskycom. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/online-dating-report/

● Finkel, Eastwick (2016) Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Association for Psychological Science.DOI: 10.1177/1529100612436522. Retrieved from https://www3.nd.edu/~ghaeffel/OnineDating_Aron.pdf

● Choi, E. P.-H., Wong, J. Y.-H., Lo, H. H.-M., Wong, W., Chio, J. H.-M., & Fong, D. Y.-T. (2016). The impacts of using smartphone dating applications on sexual risk behaviors in college students in Hong Kong. PLoS One, 11, 11

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