BY: JOANN ROW
The phenomenon of online dating and the deception behind cyber romances started to shed to light with the 2010 documentary film "Catfish", directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Online dating websites and applications have become a popular source for relationships nowadays compared to Facebook and online forums.
The development of numerous popular dating apps for smartphones such as Let’s Date, Tinder, Ok Cupid and Plenty of Fish allows virtually anyone to scan through hundreds of potential suitors in the span of a few minutes.
By having unlimited access to potential partners, many of these applications eliminate personality profiles all together. Tinder, for example, simply shows a suitor’s card with pictures from Facebook, a first name, age and distance in miles from the current location. The user sees the picture and either swipes left to deny or, if interested, swipes right. If both users swipe right, a match is made and they can begin chatting.
The stigma attached to online dating is still present, however the dating norm is quickly progressing in this direction.
Many young adults may deny the use of some apps, but as I spoke to many of my university peers, a surprising number anonymously admitted to not only having an online dating app but also use it on a regular basis.
The danger in apps such as these is that finding a partner based on common interests, beliefs and standards are completely eliminated. What’s even scarier is that Tinder is known as a hookup app, as said on Askmen.com, where many users have no interest in dating at all. This creates a higher risk for unwanted sexual aggression. Tinder is designed behind a purely shallow archetype and lowers the traditional values of dating. Sure, relationships begin with mutual attraction but once there’s absolutely no other variable in the mix and people are treated as disposable cards, generation y and so on will accept this as the new norm in dating.
Since Tinder and many other dating applications make it mandatory to have a Facebook account to pull pictures generated from Facebook, Catfishing, using fake images and background information, doesn’t appear to be an issue. As I talked to a number of guys who used dating applications and met users, all of them agreed to being Catfished at least once. Although Facebook attempts to filter out fake users, the pictures uploaded on Facebook can be any image.
Age, education, and other biographical categories can be modified to the user’s liking. I spoke to Tinder user, Samuel Enriquez, who said when he met a girl from Tinder, she was “20 pounds heavier than her picture, had really bad skin and I asked her to go get drinks. Then she told me she’s only 19… her card said she was 22.” Another Tinder user, Devin Mills, I went on a date with, told me about his past online dating horror stories. “I’m not new to online dating, I work with all guys,” Mills said. “The first girl I went out with from Tinder only had face pictures … when I met her she had bad acne and overweight.” Mills explained that taught him to only meet girls with “normal”, full body looking pictures.
In light of Catfishing issues, there is also the surprisingly opposite effect. Sarah Harrington, a college student who has three dating apps, said she actually met a few guys who were better looking in person. Harrington said, “One guy I met, Andrew from El Camino Community College, was so much hotter in person!” Another female I talked to about online dating discussed how she doesn’t reveal that she uses online dating mediums. “I feel bad about myself for having to use online dating,” Megan [last name omitted] said. “Its like I’m desperate … but I meet great guys.”
Catfishing is a danger in the online dating world, not only with fake images but also with highly modified images. Pictures can be manipulated throughphotoshop to create an attractive appeal and the user can create a completely fake biographical persona. It is much more difficult to hide the truth when dating in real life. Because in a real life situation, there isn’t a screen to hide behind when faced with reality.