In the wake of the Tinder/ Vanity Fair debacle the dating habits of millennials are once again under the microscope. Yes, the digital age has revolutionized the dating scene; no, our morals haven’t suffered because of it.
Millennials are pegged as the ones who've given rise to hook-up culture as if hooking up just came about with our generation. Really what social media has done is brought color into a black and white world (a la Pleasantville). The digital age pulled the curtain to show the real nature of human beings and that doesn't and never really has align with traditional mores.
What social media has done is shift the attention away from each other and on to our devices. How many times have you purposely ignored phone calls because you'd rather text? Or found it easier to have an emoji-filled conversation on Facebook versus talk face to face? Social networks are communication buffets so why pick one when you can try others?
More than 44 percent of men and 37 percent of women say mobile devices make it easier to flirt, according to a survey of 1,500 people. The ease of meeting someone coupled with our desire to enjoy our individuality before getting serious are what keep us single longer.
It's no secret millennials want to experience the single life and develop their own identity before getting married and starting a family. In 1960 the average age of marriage for a woman was 20 and for a man 23, today it’s 27 for women and 29 for me, according to recent Pew Research Center report.
“You can’t be stuck in one lane … There’s always something better,” said one of the guys profiled in the VF piece.
FOMO is more than just seeing all the amazing things your friends are doing and wanting to be a part of it. The plenty of fish cliché in the digital world has given an identity to each fish, giving rise to a fear of missing out on someone that could be better- at least for some people.
It’s not fair to assume that everyone is looking to get laid, though the web has made it easier to go fish. Millennials are enjoying sexual freedom but before previous generations once again look down on us it should be noted that the average age of male users on Ashley Madison is 41 and 34 for women. The decline of marriage means more people would rather wait to commit instead of getting married "because it's time" or "the right thing to do" but it's not just because social media and dating apps exist.
Alexis Madrigal wrote in The Atlantic,
“And it's not wrong to say that Facebook wants us to do things. But if you stop talking to your cousins because it's easier to update Facebook than give them a call, it's not right to say that Facebook made you do that. If you stop reading novels because you find Twitter more compelling, it's not correct to say that Twitter made you do that.”
Facebook and Tinder weren’t created to help make it easier for people to hook up, people used them to make it easier for themselves. Our generation is often painted in broad strokes (we’re lazy, entitled, sexually deviant etc) but saying we’re all just avoiding marriage to spend more time sleeping around is like saying everyone who gets married is committed for life. Most millennials want a connection eventually, a Pew Research survey found that 53 percent of never-married adults say they would like to marry eventually. It’s really a matter of prioritizing our individuality and being realistic about relationships because we know all to well the damaging effects of divorce.
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote in The Guardian,
“This is an important point: we tend to overestimate the impact of technology on human behaviour; more often than not, it is human behaviour that drives technological changes and explains their success or failures. Just like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, Tinder enables people to get along, albeit in a somewhat infantile, sexual and superficial way. It also enables us to get ahead, nourishing our competitive instincts by testing and maximising our dating potential.”
Countless articles and surveys have analyzed the pros and cons of dating in the digital era but at the end of the day it’s up to us to choose how we use these tools.