Till Swipe Do Us Part

Alice Hall explores the pitfalls of modern day dating.

There was once a time, hidden deep in the marketing archives of match.com, when the girl in the camel-colored duffel coat locked eyes with the dashing commuter over the sepia-washed platform.

The rest is history. Said man and woman fall ardently in love and live a happy life of idle domesticity in the suburbs of High Wycombe.

Yet for those born balancing on the millennial/’generation Z’ border, this love story would never happen.

In 2017, the girl on the platform exists only as a two-dimensional bikini shot grinning from the screen of an android device. The rise in popularity of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble among those aged 18-28 has lead to a generation of commuters who swipe while they travel.

Research conducted by Nielson showed that the best time for matching begins at 5pm and peaks between 7pm and 9pm. So is the 5:30 journey home, where lonely city workers are faced with hoards of homebound smug couples, responsible for young people using their precious commute time to find a life partner online?

Data retrieved by Nielson looking at the time success rates of dating apps

Contrary to popular belief, loneliness is not the sole factor driving the use of dating apps. In a recent interview for Time Magazine, co-founder of Tinder Sean Rad acknowledged:  

Nobody joins Tinder because they’re looking for something […] they join because they want to have fun. It doesn’t even matter if you match, because swiping is so fun.’

Just this morning I had the pleasure of being pressed against the sweaty post-adolescent armpit of a graduate on a Canary Wharf destined train. I was fascinated by the way his thumb idly drifted between BBC Sport and swiping through scores of faces every time the train accessed free platform Wifi. On a bus later that day, I experienced exactly the same situation with a woman.

It seemed fitting to witness these two fleeting interactions with Tinder on public transport, the ultimate expression of the transitory and impersonal nature of modern life.

Shocked to witness two swiping commuters in one day, I asked the lady if this was a regular habit of hers.

 “Only some mornings. When it’s rush hour at Temple, I always make sure I flick on ‘men and women’, because I’ve had the best dates with girls from Kings College.”

Dating in the digital age. Credit: Emerge Magazine

We live in a society where we can have everything we want at the touch of a button. We no longer have to conform to one singular gender category or put all of our eggs in one pink or blue basket. We can have both and we can have neither, and that is where our generation scores lucky.

But is this constant accessibility of potential spouses creating the exact loneliness dating apps sought to combat?  The amount of choice available on apps such as tinder and bumble has created a generation who are in relentless search of the perfect partner and as a consequence, less accepting of the flaws of others. Like mad shoppers who leave countless items on standby due to the anxiety of finding a better item, we greedily swipe with false hope that the next person will be better looking than the previous.

Why would you stop scrolling when there’s a potential boyfriend waiting around the corner who, like you, is a gluten free vegan, loves episode four of Thirteen Reasons Why and has that same cute twitch you have when you sneeze!

Dating apps have made our generation so fearful of commitment we find more enjoyment swiping through anonymous faces than matching with a potential life partner. The old goal of true love has been replaced by how many matches you can rake up on your Smartphone. 

Have dating apps given birth to a generation scared of commitment?

It is here the relationship between loneliness and dating apps performs a full circle. Millennials repeatedly top rankings as the most unsatisfied age group; a 2014 study featured in the Independent found 18-24 year olds were four times as likely to feel lonely all the time as those aged 70 and above. More and more young people are drowning in an anxious abyss of endless choice and possibilities. In a generation where people don’t even have to commit to one dating app, how can they ever be expected to commit to one partner for life?

We’ve all heard the love stories. A sister’s friend’s brother who met his long-term fiancé through a tinder fling. The unlucky in love girl who found the man of her dreams after walking past him three times on Happen. But unfortunately these stories are few and far between.

Now, it remains up to the likes of the Metro’s ‘Rush Hour Crush’ to match lusty city commuters with the partner of their dreams.

Until we swap our screens for the sweaty and stressed faces of our fellow commuters, our generation will continue to swipe away the true love that stands right before them.


words by Alice Hall 


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