By Daniel Francis
John is bored one day. He finds that he needs to kill some time at his desk to make it to closing time. He downloads one of those dating apps he has heard so much about. He is single so he thinks to himself, “Why not?”
He downloads the app and begins making his profile. He finds some of his best photos to add to his profile on his social media. He follows the prompts and updates all his basic information like age, location, and gender preferences.
He makes his profile bio brief only highlighting what he thinks might be attractive to the women who will come across his platform. He highlights his high-paying and interesting job, his height of 6 ft 1 in and that he is open to “having fun”. His profile is now complete, and he is off to the races.
He begins learning how to use the platform. Profiles of prospective women will pop onto his screen, and he must decide if he wants to like their profile by swiping right or dislike their profiles by swiping left.
He begins briefly scanning the profiles of the women that come onto his screen. Too slim, swipes left.
Too fat, swipes left.
Lives too far, swipes left.
Skin tone too dark, swipes left.
Not interested in a quick hookup, swipes left.
And on and on he goes. He sees a few profiles that catch his eye. In most cases, it’s because their physical qualities fit his wants. He matches with one, then two and then another. He is excited because he gets that rush of dopamine in his brain.
He starts conversations with all these women. Enjoys the conversations with some but not so much with others. He begins comparing and contrasting and immediately, without a second thought or announcement, would unmatch with those who just weren’t doing it for him.
He has now been thrown into the addictive low-cost and high-reward game that are dating apps. Some make meaningful connections on these apps and have even found a partner there. However, the majority get caught on what these dating apps truly aim to do: keep you swiping on the platform.
The dating algorithms have capitalised on turning dating into a game. Their purpose is to keep you on the platform and not to find a meaningful connection. Yet these apps are simply echoing the broader societal trend towards more superficial relationships.
However, the apps are affecting us even though we may not even notice. The swiping fosters a feeling of instant gratification versus lasting connection. The setup of these apps makes it simple and fun to simply swipe through.
As it is set up like a game, the act of swiping and matching is exciting especially when you make a match, and you get to start a conversation.
The apps predominantly rely on visual first impressions. This underscores the superficiality of the process and the ease at which inner qualities and values can be overlooked.
The thoughts running through John’s mind as he decided on who he would swipe left or right on showed that he was mainly driven by what he saw on the outside but of course, if we focus too heavily on the external, we miss potentially what there is internally.
The app also can encourage short-lived conversations. The interactions on these apps can be very brief and transactional, somewhat limiting the potential for meaningful conversations.
The mindset you have going into the conversation is a big factor as well especially when you can highlight on your profile if you are there for fun, to make friends, ready for a long-term relationship, if it’s complicated or if you don’t know.
I believe that the mindset fostered on these dating apps can encourage us to view individuals as commodities and not as people. There is a potential conflict with faith-based values.
The quick judgements, viewing people as profiles and not people, and the yearning for that instant gratification may transfer over into our lives and affect our approach to faith, interactions with our community, and ultimately, our relationship with God.
I urge us all to prioritise genuine connections and not focus so much on the superficial as the secular world has idealised. Find value in authentic, deep connections both in dating and in your faith journey so as not to get caught up in values that are not of God.
I want to encourage us all to reflect on our dating habits and our interactions with those of the opposite sex. Seek depth in that realm and during your spiritual journey because this will lead to a more fulfilling and enriched life.
Daniel Francis is a millennial helping other millennials. He is a two-time author of the books The Millennial Mind and The Millennial Experience, and an entrepreneur. Over the past four years, he has served as a Personal Development Coach whose work targets Millennials and helps them tap into their full potential. He is also a Self-publishing coach and has guided hundreds on self-publishing their book successfully.
LinkedIn: Daniel Francis