Last decade was one of development in the way we work, think and communicate.
It all started with MSN, moving on to Myspace, with Facebook having a ripple effect and Instagram climbing the ladder to the fastest growing social media platform.
The use of social media apps replaced most other traditional methods of communication but also became a way to peek into other people’s lives through their photos. Suddenly, you did not have to meet someone in person to talk to them; you could see what they looked like through common friends and add them as a contact. People who had never met before were connected and could start talking to each other.
One could try to find someone they liked and message them just by running their name through Facebook.
As a result cyber-flirting flourished. In fact, it flourished to the point it became overwhelming for some on the receiving end who felt that their privacy was being invaded. At the same time, everyone was enjoying how easy meeting people through social media could be.
Some companies, jumped on the bandwagon and. pinpointing a hole in the market, ventured to create dating apps which they marketed as safe and controlled spaces for singles to find their other half or simply hook-up.
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One of the first and still most relevant of the kind – mainly in the US – is OKCupid, a dating app launched in 2004. The user creates their personal profile by answering basic questions that cover topics from favourite foods to political views and whether or not they plan to have children. Usually, the end goal is to find a partner even though most such apps are used for casual sex. OkCupid was relaunched earlier this year, promoting diversity and shutting down any discrimination practices both on a racial and sexual orientation level. The said app is probably the most well-rounded up dating site in terms of how much information it gathers on its users and the accuracy of its algorithm.
Another successful app is Grindr, heavily stronger amongst members of the gay community, mainly men.
By far the most downloaded and used one Tinder, which has become the Facebook of dating apps getting its users hooked on the swipe mentality. As a dating app that matches users to others based on geographic proximity, it made ‘matches’ easier as it’s not hard for users to meet up if they enjoy exchanging messages in the first place. Tinder’s interface is simpler than OkCupid’s, plus it requires much less time and effort to build a profile. The app allows users to swipe right on photos to ‘like’ or left to ‘pass’ whereas if both like each other they ‘match’ can start chatting through the app without having to exchange more personal data.
The photos on Tinder are usually pulled from their potential match’s social media. The app is connected to Facebook, as well as Spotify and Instagram which helps with verification issues and also allows users to see if they have any connections in common with their matches.
There is no embarrassment when using the app as it only connects people when both parties are interested; if you don’t match with someone they will never know you swiped right. Users can add a mini-bio summarising what they are like in 500 characters while age is also visible.
Another app, closing in on Tinder in terms of popularity is Bumble, giving ladies the power to start a conversation with their matches or not who in turn can respond within 24 hours. Other than that, the app is very similar to Tinder. If you don’t like the aforementioned dating apps there are more options available in Australia like Plenty of Fish, Hinge, eHarmony, The League, Elite Singles, The Inner Circle, Skout, Scruff.
While dating through apps is generally easy for younger age groups, what happens with users over 35 who have experienced more traditional and organic ways of flirting?
Moreover, what is it like for users of linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds to connect and date on these apps?
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Neos Kosmos asked 15 users over the age of 35 who were kind enough to share with us their adventures:
“I’ve been living in Australia for seven years and I have been using Tinder since 2013. I came here on a student visa but was offered a job and ended up being a permanent resident. In the beginning, not having friends or acquaintances, it was a great was to find people to go out at nights and you never know what else might happen. With some dates I’ve become friends; there was no chemistry whatsoever. There were two guys with whom I ended up being in a relationship. I believe that is there is attraction and communication dating apps are as successful as meeting people out in the real world, organically. There is no guarantee.”– Eleftheria, 37.
“In general, life in Australia is easier on many levels, however, socially I find people to be colder and more superficial. In Thessaloniki, you’d go to the same bar two to three times before the staff and regular punters punters knew you by your first name. You could start a conversation without much effort and if you don’t come across as a douche, people would be polite and greet your with a smile. Chatting over politics of a song over a drink could end up in a philosophical conversation till the early morning hours. There was a different character and authenticity; people were more switched on. Here, one has to organise drinks at least a week in advance; make dinner reservations weeks ahead, exchange emails and so on. There’s hardly any spontaneity. The rhythm is different and people are lonelier and don’t open up easily especially when it comes to emotions. Not to mention cafes and bars close super early compared to Greece. I think that people here are more comfortable behind a screen as in real life I often encounter a fake vibe. I do have two Aussie mates who are in relationships with girls they met on Tinder and Bumble but I’ve only had hookups through apps. Nothing of substance.” – Orestis, 35.
“I don’t know how I feel about it. I’ve been divorced for two years and I have two kids, four and six. I’m 40 and although I work out heaps, I’m independent and look much younger, I’m disappointed by men’s behaviour on dating apps. I don’t think they care for actual connection but also, it’s kind of faceless anyway. People focus on how good is their match on paper and if they tick all the ‘ideal’ boxes, say: is she hot, available, fit, tall and so forth… they don’t let go and really get to know people.” – Ella, 40.
“I’m not very tall but I’m not short either. I stopped using it because I get annoyed when I see ‘If you are below 5’10” don’t bother, especially when women are short! Is 5’8” that bad for a dude when the girl writing you off is 5’2” tops?” – Yiorgos, 35.
“I think it’s awesome. I wish it was around when I was 20. It took heaps of effort to approach girls back in my day and get their number, let alone take them out. I won’t even take it further. These days you can go on a spontaneous date hours after having matched with someone. It all about the banter. Hell, if the date goes well, you could be having sex the same night. I find it super easy. For a guy my age good photos, exercise and being able to hold a conversation works. My age range is from women in their 20s to 40 years,” – Tim, 40.
“The two negatives for me is that there’s not as much excitement as when you’re into someone and you don’t know if it’s mutual and if they’ll ever ask you out. I also realised that after I turned 35 my options were halved. Even though I don’t mind going out with younger men, I feel that men my age or older actually go for younger women.” – Holly, 38.
“One thing that annoys me the most is when you see a girl’s pics she looks a certain way and then you actually meet and she’s a completely different person. It’s all Facetuned and liquified; the nose is different, the body is different… the skin. It’s a risk. Same happens when someone super confident through the app and then they struggle to blurt out their name in person. Sometimes I wonder if people write their own messages.” – Simon, 41.
“I recently came out of a long-term relationship and I don’t want to string along anyone even remotely looking for something more serious. I’m not as much on Tinder; I do check occasionally but in my bio I mention that I’m only interested in casual stuff. I’m on Grindr. It’s a bit more loose for gays on this app. You could say full-on. It can happen that the first message you get from someone is ‘come to 321 x St, at 9pm’ just to f*** and that’s it.” – Nikos, 39.
“On one hand it’s inevitable to resort to dating apps at this age, especially when everyone around you is married with kids. You need options and this is the most popular way. On the other hand, I’ve personally been made to feel bad whilst talking to men. As a woman of colour and an immigrant I have been ignored and even experienced racism usually when I am trying to defend my point of view or disagreeing with someone or when guys cross the line and take it too fast. I’ve received sexist and offensive messages regarding the colour of my skin or my ethnic background; it’s like they’d be doing me a favour regardless of whether I want to go out with them or not.” – Sahar, 36.
“There are good eggs out there but the majority of the guys I see online are narcissists or total jokes and more often than not cross the line. They can get super vulgar super quick… and, oh my god, the lies. Mostly men. Married, in a relationship, fake name, stolen pics. Worst thing ever: I rock up to a date and the dude waiting for me is a completely different person.” – Hannah, 34.
“As a Muslim man of Middle-eastern background, I’m naturally dark-skinned and also have a beard. You could say I’m not quite the vibe (laughs)! I’ve matched with a few girls who made some terrible jokes the worst being ‘should I come alone? You won’t kidnap me?’ and ‘it’s my fantasy to have sex with a terrorist’. I usually don’t get matched with the typical Aussie or white Caucasian female but then again most women from my country would not download a dating app.” – Amir, 38.
“I usually download it on winter Sunday afternoons, when I’m home alone and feeling uninspired but it annoys me every time and end up deleting it. I realise I get hooked and spend hours on end just swiping through people’s photos or having the same mundane conversation over and over again, just with different people. It doesn’t feel natural. I’ve also had a guy message me using the exact same conversation starter thinking he had moved on to the next match.” – Angeliki, 35.
“My partner and I have a joint profile on both Tinder and Bumble. We’re in an open relationship and love to explore with other people, mainly females. It’s very common and it has definitely reignited the spark. A few years ago were on a couple of swingers sites and going to clubs but dating apps have made it much much easier.” – Shawn, 38.
“There’s so much racism in the gay community for people like me. Not so much on Tinder where people miiiight consider something more serious but on Grindr it’s disheartening to say the least seeing bios like “No Blacks or Asians”, “No Asians,” “No Chinese,” and so on. Why? It’s doing my head in so I’d rather go out with friends to LGBTQIA venues and bump into the one.” – Lyu, 40.
“I’ve downloaded them all and using them, too. It’s fine. It’s easy here. When in Athens, it can be a bit harder (maybe because I don’t live there anymore). It’s good. It’s great. But no where near the real deal.” – Panagiotis, 38.