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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Romance got run over by a reindeer named Tinder

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Texture courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As SZA so eloquently put it in a Saturday Night Live sketch last year, it’s “cuffing season” — the season of a nauseating procession of “soft launches”, meeting the family and a constant repeat of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” 

If there was a best time to be single, it wouldn’t be the holidays. Sure, you save money that you would’ve spent buying your partner a gift and you spare yourself the stress of making a good impression on the parents. But the extra money padding your pockets might not be worth having to play the perpetual role of third wheel at your hometown bar. Talk about fa-la-la-la-lonely.

It seems in the colder months of the year, people finally agree to abandon hookup culture and all of its frustrating requirements to stomach real romance for once. 

A month ago, it would’ve been way too much to ask for a guy you’re seeing to take you on a date because it’s “not that serious" and he “doesn’t do commitment.” Now, it seems the chill in the air has forced people to respect each other enough to convene outside of Snapchat and dark rooms. 

But, why do we only succumb to this type of dedication a few months out of the year? When did hookup culture take precedence over real connection?

I blame a myriad of things, but I’ll elaborate on two in particular: social media and dating apps. 

Social media is a breeding ground for unrealistic expectations. It’s a highlight reel that is specifically curated to make it clear to everyone that you are getting an A+ in life. While this can apply largely to looks and contests about who has more friends, it can also impact your perception of dating life. 

Scrolling through engagement or anniversary posts constantly can almost unintentionally put pressure on your love life to be that perfect or move that fast. You may find yourself focusing more on how your relationship presents itself online and less about your connection with that person.

As for online dating, some apps nowadays primarily traffic in casual dating and hookups. While you may occasionally stumble across someone who met their fiancé on Tinder, the app has long had a reputation of mainly servicing relationship-phobes and those seeking a rebound. 

Some apps enable hookup culture while claiming to offer a one-way ticket out of it. Hinge boasts itself as the app that’s “designed to be deleted,” but how true can that be for a company that grossed $284 million in revenue last year? 

I hate to break it to you, but the dating app sitting in that hidden folder on your phone is likely about as invested in the success of your love life as your dog. You’re a subscriber statistic, nothing more. Capitalism is charming like that.

Even if these dating apps had nothing but pure intentions, it’s still strange for people to have access to thousands of posts from other singles looking to mingle. That kind of exposure can create a feeling of endless possibility and the potential for missed opportunity, which is why many would rather drink whole milk than settle down and delete the app. 

Hence the birth of hookup culture and the normalization of one-night stands, a combination that has seemingly given rise to the word “situationship” and stunted an entire generation’s ability to communicate their feelings, reach emotional intimacy and commit all at once.

Unfortunately, it seems the amalgamation of social media and dating apps has produced a modern dating scene ripe with double standards and mostly devoid of anything resembling real romance. But, chin up, if you’re not “cuffed” by Christmas, don’t worry, there will likely be plenty of reactivated Tinder accounts come April.

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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