Dangerous Love Games of the 21st Century

Famed American architect and systems theorist, Buckminster Fuller, once said this about our relationship with technology:

Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.

Whilst he may have been talking about the stockpiling of nuclear armaments and development of even more powerful weapons technology, you can undoubtedly apply this snappy theorem to Western society’s reliance on technology for the kinds of jobs that would once have been assumed to be hopelessly entwined into the human experience. The process of finding a partner has been the subject of numerous self-help books, the focus of hundreds of blogs and the topic of much debate by radio talk show hosts for decades now, but it is only recently that our use of technology has started to intertwine with what has always been assumed to be a chemical process above all else.

Recent surveys have suggested that around half of young people (aged 18-34) in the UK have used a dating app at some point, however many have suggested that they do not enjoy using them. Surveys take in the US suggest a similar trend with 30% of respondents to a YouGov survey stating that they know someone who has met a romantic partner through an online dating service.  Whilst casual online daters might only think of the ‘big players’ when first dipping their toes in the water, there are literally thousands of services available online, seeking to bring two (or sometimes more!) people together.

As a divorced marketing professional, with an eye for a good deal, I’ve tried my hand at most online dating services which has led to various outcomes, some of which I’ll not be sharing here, but what I will be talking about is how each online system changed my perception of the ‘dating game’ and how this affected me as I continued along the dusty dating highway.

My first pit stop on the road was with a service that has long been associated with my age group: Plenty of Fish. Although I’ve been informed friends that PoF has changed a great deal in the last few years, I still found it to be an antiquated system, made no better by the kinds of folks that I found on there. The UI for the mobile app was left a little wanting and I found entering my details a bit of a chore. In seeking to appease their middle-aged clientele, the developers behind this service have created a rather ugly beast that, whilst I’m sure still gets results, left me wanting in terms of aesthetics.

Finding the frigidity of the men on PoF in line with the system that they used, I took a sharp turn onto a younger woman’s app: Tinder. Whilst my two grown daughters cringed at the prospect of being dropped into the same dating pool as them (I initially had the age settings as wide as possible), they were soon helping me pick out photos and laughing as I fumbled my way through the first carousel of ‘lucky’ guys. Out of all the apps I used, I had the most fun with Tinder. There was a spontaneity to using it that was genuinely engaging and I jumped on more than a couple of opportunities for evening drinks when I was twiddling my thumbs during the week.

Whilst I had my fair share of fun on Tinder, I did eventually grow tired of the endless torrent of matches and inappropriate propositions I received from men who would rather chance their arm with a sexual gambit than engage in a real conversation. The app I ended my journey on was Hinge. The marketing slogan for this service is ‘The app designed to be deleted’, a memorable line that flies in the face of most modern app technology. I’ve yet to delete Hinge, but do appreciate the level of personalisation that is available and, even better, the men seem to care a little more than other communities I’ve engaged with.

I’ll end with a quote that writer Robert M. Pirsig had to stay on technology:

Technology presumes there’s just one right way to do things and there never is.

He’s not wrong. When attempting to navigate the often twisted road of personal relationships, it can sometimes to help to try as many tools at your disposal, but remember that these are not the only ways of reaching your desired destination.