Swipe. Tap. Click. These aren’t only the motions you might make in sync with those sick jams blasting from your car radio, but also a routine sequence for mobile and online dating app users. These prominent, accessible platforms deliver mixed results; after all, my mother and stepfather found each other on Match.com and have been married for nearly a decade, yet I shake my head at my wonderful sister’s “gem-hunting” for lowlives on Tinder (fast-forward to my inevitable creation of a dating app profile soon after this article’s publication).
I’ve observed this eagerness to swipe left or right through a pool of pictures, but I’ve never fully understood the appeal of being a human windshield wiper. Besides, I’d need a high-quality cleaning product for any smudginess or dirtiness that arises both on my phone and in my life. Given my complete and utter lack of romantic experience, you may doubt the applicability of my commentary regarding dating apps. Nevertheless, I can make a compelling case that dating app usage is perfectly acceptable, provided that you wear some safety gloves (for your hands; but yes, you should wear that other type for more intimate encounters, too).
On the subject of ‘gem-hunting,’ I imagine that selecting a suitor through a dating app is like purchasing the prettiest, most expensive piece of jewelry from your local shopping mall, only for the said valuable to shatter upon taking it home. Your attempts to conceal the damage or augment its unsatisfactory physical appearance prove futile and/or insensitive, and it’s impossible to receive a refund for your wasted time and money. Instead of making uninformed, impulsive purchases that lead to literal breakups, you should find a jewel that’s well-worth your investment: Beautiful enough and susceptible to some minor nicks and tears, yet otherwise remarkably durable and more compatible with your identity and interests.
That box of chocolates that men typically hand to their special someone also provides an apt allegory for online dating. Imagine that the box represents the world around us, and the chocolates inside it (like ordinary people) come in countless shapes, sizes and flavors. Romantic pursuers should try as many samples as possible until they find one that’s especially delectable (i.e. sometimes bitter but mostly sweet until its expiration). As Forrest Gump wisely said, “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Perhaps if I take more bites, then I too will finally find a piece of chocolate (and a woman) that satisfies my tastes.
Furthermore, dating app users who offer their partner a bouquet of flowers should treat them as such. Each partner must tend to their delicate flower’s most basic necessities for comfort and survival, recognize its capacity for growth, encourage an outstretching of petals (i.e. a broadening of horizons), and maintain a fresh fragrance within their holder’s presence.
Like a magic carpet ride, a romantic relationship’s trajectory should be pleasant, smooth and steady. Arranging for a luxurious limousine that never hits traffic may be an exorbitant means of transportation, but driving an Uber over several speed bumps and causing your intoxicated partner to projectile vomit out the window isn’t exactly ideal, either.
Unless implemented carefully, none of the aforementioned romantic tropes truly encourage matchmaking based upon one another’s personal merits; dating apps suffer from this same issue. Said apps, although a decent alternative for shy people and introverts, also allow for greater dishonesty than face-to-face interactions do. I could photoshop my face atop some dude sporting a twelve-pack (of muscle, not of beer; I know inebriation is the university student’s aphrodisiac, but I’m still underage by a couple of months), but my noodle arms and slim, yet protruding stomach will be even less appealing if I’m not upfront about them.
We shouldn’t encourage widespread overcompensation and objectification, nor should we reward money-hungry executives who couldn’t care less about fostering true love (yet millions, including my mother, who otherwise illustrates impeccable judgment, watch “The Bachelor,” a glorified dating app in “reality” television form). On a much more serious note, the allure of selecting a suitor through one swift movement obstructs our viewpoint of potential rapists, drug dealers, racists and other troublesome characters.
Ultimately, dating apps act as shortcuts, either taking you to your destination quickly or impeding your progress significantly. Through mobile and online dating apps, you’re literally only scratching the surface of potential life partners; so if you’re keen on using such platforms, then please proceed with caution.
Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.