With the explosion of social media and modern technology, the concept of “dating” has changed drastically. In this new world of direct messages, swiping right and “You up?” texts, many college students see the traditional date as a thing of the past. So, has Netflix-and-Chill become the new dinner-and-a-movie?
Many UM students and staff feel that technology, social media and dating apps have significantly changed the way people interact in romantic relationships.
“I’ve met 99% of my hookups through dating apps,” said Sheikh Muhtade, a freshman at UM studying musical theatre. “The whole experience of going out on a date is very rare. It’s all about the app, especially from my experience as a gay person.”
Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, Hornet—Muhtade has used them all. Even so, he said that he would rather get to know someone by taking them out instead of over pillow talk.
Muhtade isn’t alone. Distraction conducted an Instagram poll to find out what UM students prefer. Surprisingly, 87% of the 320 participants said they’d rather go on a date than have a casual hookup. Why is it, then, that a proper date seems to be the exception, rather than the rule?
“I have to get used to the culture that’s trending,” said Muhtade. “Sometimes wanting dates can translate to being clingy. People don’t like making anything official.”
Picture this: You lock eyes with a perfect 10 from across the room. You don’t know each other, but there’s clear interest from both sides. What now? The answer from our parents and grandparents would be clear: ask them out. For Millennials and Gen Z, however, it would be more along the lines of, “Can I get your Snap[chat]?”
If you’re active on dating apps like Tinder, it’s even simpler. Just look for someone’s picture, and with one swipe right, you’ve expressed interest without having to say a single word.
This is exactly how Matthew Calle, a sophomore at UM, started dating his current girlfriend. After seeing her in class, he “super-liked” her photo on Tinder to gauge her level of interest. They matched and have been dating for seven months.
The last time Calle asked someone on a date in person was three years ago. He expressed that having a one-on-one conversation with someone he’s interested in is much easier virtually than in person.
“It’s more convenient, and it takes the pressure off both parties since you could always just not answer if you feel like you’re not interested,” said Calle.“If you’re talking in person, you can’t just walk away from a conversation.”
After matching on Tinder, Calle and his girlfriend continued communicating over text. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, this trend is common. The study showed that 72 percent of teens in relationships spend a significant amount of time communicating with their partner via text.
However, the digital age brings challenges that previous generations have never faced. Everything has a double meaning—whether it’s liking another girl’s Instagram photo, leaving a guy on ‘read’ or using a red heart emoji instead of a blue one.
“There’s new levels of trust that people need to have in each other when dating in a world based on social media and technology,” Calle said. “There are literally apps made for cheating. They look like calculators but actually are a photo-vault to hide pictures you don’t want people to see.”
Just because some people view our generation as increasingly disconnected and desensitized doesn’t mean that we’ve lost our longing for love. As human beings, we’re constantly looking to connect. The difference today, according to students, is an inability to meaningfully do so.
Sam Terilli, a Department Chair in the UM School of Communication, shared how dating has changed since he was in college in the late ’70s.
“We didn’t even have email,” said Terilli. “We passed notes, we used the telephone. Back then you actually had to do something in person and have some sort of interaction.”
Terilli met his wife in high school marching band when she, the drum majorette, complained about his poor rhythm. He recalls that she had confided in a friend that she wanted him to ask her out. He did, and the rest is history.
“The biggest thing that’s different now is the risks,” said Terilli. “The importance of practicing safe sex and being smart about it are much greater and more serious.
Casual hookups occurred; they just weren’t technologically-enabled. We didn’t have things like social media, cell phones or dating websites.”
As for the future of apps and social media, Bumble campus ambassador and UM senior Camberlyn Sparks believes it will all eventually fade to make room for the next best thing.
“I think our generation is actually going to move past social media,” Sparks said. “I have a feeling that it will become so big and control so much of our lives that a lot of people are not going to want to be a part of it anymore. I still think it’s going to evolve, but I feel like our generation and our kids are going to want more.”
10 things to watch during your next ‘Netflix and Chill’ session:
–The Great British Baking Show
–Across The Universe
–Y Tu Mamá También
–London Has Fallen
–Blue Is the Warmest Color
–House of Cards
This article was published in Distraction’s winter 2019 print issue.
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