Dating apps have effectively killed the dating scene for both LGBTQ+ and straight individuals alike. From hookup culture to perpetuating racial stereotypes, these apps have long stifled emotional connections among users.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, online dating apps have surged in popularity and, counter-intuitively, made traditional dating obsolete. Popular applications such as Tinder, Bumble and Grindr have integrated their own kind of addictive system that benefits the platform rather than its users by keeping them coming back.
These apps have made traditional dating a daunting, almost impossible task – whether you’re straight or not.
A sophomore at UNC — a pansexual woman who asked to remain anonymous — says her generation (Generation Z) “gets bored easily,” which is what makes these dating apps so effective. They focus on the attention span of a person and weaponize the user interface to keep them interested.
She also said that while online dating opens access for people to meet, it simultaneously creates an environment where there is rarely any activity outside of the app. The pool of people you interact with increases when using these apps, but "it can make finding people whose intentions you know harder," she said.
Another common problem with dating apps is the idea of finding a "perfect match." The apps that are popular today have filters that help narrow the search down to what a person is looking for in a partner.
Height, age, weight and location are some of the gauges that have been available to users. However, this completely closes off the dating pool to those who may not fit one filter but are a perfect fit in other aspects. Before 2020, some platforms also had ethnic filters.
Many of the companies behind such dating apps have since removed their ethnic filters during the protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 — but that hasn’t solved the issue of racism in online dating.
Junior Trey Thurman, a straight Black man, used the example of the rise in the popularity of K-pop music to illustrate the problem of the fetishization of race.
“The number of people who fetishize Korean men has drastically increased," he said.