by Rose Brennan & Lauren Schuster, A&E Editor & Social Media Editor
Dating is an activity which seems central to college life. Whether with fellow students, students at other schools or anyone in the surrounding area, Manhattan College students are active in the dating scene.
But the current generation has a new way to date. Thanks to the proliferation of the Internet and smartphones, dating apps are now an integral part of dating life, even at MC.
The beginning of online dating can be traced to about the year 2000, when Neil Clark Warren founded eharmony.com. Dating apps specifically, however, became increasingly popular in the year 2012. Since then, dating apps have become commonplace, especially on college campuses.
According to Bustle, the most popular dating app is Tinder, which has over 7 million monthly users. Other popular dating apps among college students are Grindr (6 million monthly users), Bumble (1 million monthly users), Coffee Meets Bagel (700,000 monthly users) and Hinge (500,000 monthly users).
Senior Gillian Fleshman is an active user of Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. For Fleshman, the apps are often a way to simply kill some free time, although they can sometimes evolve into something more with the right person.
“I use them when I get bored, mostly, maybe like once a week, twice a week or something like that,” Fleshman said. “It’s not like a habitual kind of thing. I use Tinder more just because it’s easier to swipe. I feel like Bumble and Hinge are more things you read, and you gotta read about the person, which I also like too.”
Fleshman also generally finds that people come to different apps with different intentions.
“I kind of feel like there’s certain connotations with certain dating apps. On Hinge, I’m looking for a relationship, and I … don’t know if I’m looking for that yet.” Fleshman said. “I’m not really sure what I want. Tinder is just strictly hook-ups, and it’s very forward. And sometimes, it’s ‘Add me on Snap,’ and it tends to go off of the actual Tinder messaging system. And it’s just immediate bombardment of unsolicited dick pics.”
While there are certainly negative experiences that come along with using dating apps, Fleshman has also recently experienced a substantial romantic relationship because of them.
“This January, I went over to a guy’s place, and I just didn’t leave for three days,” Fleshman said. “We just hung out the entire weekend, and we started dating. We just broke up earlier this semester, just due to school.”
Senior Olivia Haveron has used both Tinder and Bumble during her time at college, and echoed Fleshman’s sentiments of them usually just serving as a pastime.
“I don’t actually take [dating apps] very seriously,” Haveron said. “They have a stigma around them that they’re all for hookups, but honestly I just kind of go on there just for fun and just swipe.”
Haveron has never decided to take any of her online dating interactions into the real world.
“I talked to one person on and off for about a year but we never actually met in person, we would just text and FaceTime, but that’s the extent of it,” Haveron said.
While many interactions on these apps remain casual, they can sometimes turn into aggressive harassment.
“The worst is one guy I didn’t respond to and he kept messaging me, and I never responded to him [from the beginning], and he was like ‘Listen, I just want to talk to you for a little bit, give you some good dick and leave your life forever,’” Haveron said.
When you run the risk of interactions like these, some might wonder why students continue using dating apps as often as they do. In Haveron’s experience, however, she has seen plenty of good things come out of the apps as well.
“A lot pf people I know have met their partner on dating apps whether it be Tinder, Bumble, or even Hinge which is more directed to dating rather than hook-ups,” Haveron said. “So I feel like especially in such a digital age, it is a lot easier to meet someone over a dating app. But I think the issue with them is a lot of people are only on there to hook up, so a lot of times you don’t know if somebody actually wants to be serious.”
Freshman student Ali James exclusively uses Tinder and expressed having a very casual approach, similar to Haveron’s. Like Haveron, James has also never gone on any real life dates with people she has matched with on the app, however, she still feels that they have both positives and negatives.
“I think the benefit of using a dating app is that it puts you in contact with many different types of people that you may not have thought to talk to on your own,” James said. “But the downsides are that many people could pretend to be someone they are not, and what certain people say over the internet may not be true in real life.”
At the end of the day, using dating apps in a beneficial way is all about being clear about your intentions and respecting the intentions of others as well.
“I think dating apps have definitely connected more people, especially college students,” James said. “But at the same time, it’s important to think about if kids are specifically using the app to date, or just to hook up. Ultimately, I don’t think it is a good or bad thing, as long as both parties are honest and transparent about what they want.”