The Online Dating Generation: Are we too selective when looking for love?

The growth of technology in previous years has resulted in a significant increase in digital interaction —  from close family members to strangers. Along with social media, online dating has become a big part of this presence, with one in six marriages beginning online as of 2015.

As people move online hoping to find new relationships we must ask, are we too selective when looking for love?

The stats of online dating

In the UK, six million people use dating apps every year. Relationships that begin online tend to move faster and have a higher chance of becoming healthier marriages. Although once frowned upon, online dating is becoming more normalised — with 59% of adults believing that online dating is a good way to meet people.

This positive change in people’s views has also led to an increase in users in recent years. Big names in the online dating game include Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, and Grindr, each having alternative features that draw in their users. Tinder alone has 57 million monthly users who use the app for anything from a way to pass time to attempting to find the perfect partner. 

An idealised version of ourselves

With the help of social media sites such as Instagram, we can provide the best, most desired version of ourselves to put forward for others to see. Dating sites are no different; with a few carefully selected photos and short biography, people can choose whether they like you or not.

Using this limited information provided, people can easily accept or reject you, showcasing the brutal world of online dating. But, in real life, we cannot uphold this preferred version of ourselves — and we cannot hide our flaws.

Online dating has contributed to the throwaway culture of the 21st century, with millions of profiles on dating apps such as Tinder, it isn’t hard to find a quick and easy replacement for your recent ex. When it comes to friends, or even relationships, which have formed in real life, are we this picky?

No one is perfect. As much as we want to believe our friends are the best people on the planet, even they have their flaws. But, generally, we are able to see past small inconveniences and differences because the relationship works and these minor details don’t play a major role.

We excuse differences between ourselves and our friends, putting it down to individuality. Yet, when searching for love, we expect to find the perfect partner who ticks all of our boxes, rejecting people for the pettiest of reasons; such as height, weight, or favourite music genre.

Racism in dating

Dating sites have come under fire in recent years for their acceptance of discrimination among users. Hinge users can openly declare their ethnic preferences, stating if a specific ethnicity is a ‘dealbreaker’ for them. While other sites such as Tinder and Bumble don’t allow for such preferences to be set, users often use their bios as a way of communicating preferences such as ‘no blacks’.    

Such statements are not merely preferences but racist prejudices based on stereotypes that reduce potential partners to the colour of their skin. In the world online dating, people hide behind the terms ‘types’ and ‘preferences’ to excuse their racist views which would simply not be acceptable in the real world.

Alternatively, there are dating site users whose preference is specifically one ethnic or racial group. People often defend this preference as a positive trait, presenting it as the opposite of racism. However, these preferences stem from fetishes and stereotypes, leading people to be fetishized by users and judged solely on their ethnic identity.

Racial fetishes such as ‘yellow fever’ originate in harmful racial stereotypes which often reflect a select few qualities which are sexually appealing. These fetishes span beyond dating websites, as shown in the recent trend for mixed-race babies with, typically, white women stating their desire to have mixed-race babies due to how ‘cute’ they are.

Accepting or rejecting someone based purely on their ethnicity reduces people to their looks, neglecting the chance to get to know someone’s personality in favour of physical appearance. People do not want to be described as someone’s type by being reduced to their race, it’s not the compliment some people believe it is and it uses racial stereotypes to create a preconceived idea about the person. Such behaviours can cause skewed ideas about different ethnicities and build upon racist views that are prominent in society.

Are we too selective?  

In a world of online dating and social media, it can be easy to present a version of ourselves that we want others to see. We can scrutinize minor aspects of ourselves, and others, that we wouldn’t even notice in real life. But just because we have the ability (and time) to be able to pick apart strangers on the internet, it doesn’t mean we should.

We have the option to be more selective than ever, and there are millions of potential partners at our fingertips waiting to be chosen. But maybe it is time to start looking past those initial Tinder pictures and seeing the person beyond the profile – they might be your type after all.

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