To message or not to message


College students are often quite busy. Many juggle part-time jobs (sometimes multiple), along with their studies, family life and personal relationships. With all that they have on their plates, when do college students have the time to meet new people? This is where online dating apps come in.

Online dating is convenient and provides users with the control to display their best qualities.

With apps like Tinder and Bumble, it has never been easier to view singles in your area, vetting them and swiping right on those that seem to be the most attractive. However, it can be argued that these apps promote a more shallow form of dating.

On the Tinder app, for example, the user views a series of different profiles of people within a specified age range in their area. Each profile features pictures of the individual, a short biography and optional links to Facebook, Instagram or Spotify accounts. The app feeds the user with a list of other users in their area who are likely to be compatible, based on mutual friends and common interests.

If the user likes the look of someone, they swipe right; if they are not interested, they swipe left. 

If the user swipes left on someone, there is no indication sent to that person. If two people swipe right on each other, they “match” and are able to message one another, although the unpaid version of Tinder limits the number of right swipes in a twelve-hour period. 

The Bumble app follows the same “swipe right or left” format as Tinder. The difference is, when a “connection” is made, the woman must message first within a twenty-four hour window. The man also has his own twenty-four hour window to respond to the message. In the case of same-sex couples, either person can message first, but there is still a twenty-four hour window. The app also features both video and voice chats. 

It’s easy to see why these dating apps are so popular; their convenience is unmatched. Let’s say you match with someone on a non-Bumble dating app… what now? There seems to be a great deal of worry among these app users regarding who should send the first message. Is it “ladylike” for girls to send the first message? Is it too bold for guys to send the first message?

Oftentimes, girls will wait for the guys to take that initiative. It doesn’t matter who you are– this experience can be a bit nerve-racking. What if you make a bad first impression? What if they don’t write back?

It seems as though this controversy is a bit pointless. If you are looking to make a genuine connection with someone, it doesn’t matter who reaches out first. A growing number of students claim that they don’t mind much either way, but the other person messaging first eases their nerves. 

Why should it matter? If you choose to message first and they are put off by it, then they more than likely aren’t someone you’d want to get to know anyway. But I digress.

A new era of dating and meeting new people was ushered in with the dawn of dating apps. 

With these apps, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to find a date or potential hookup. Is it kind of lazy? Yes. Is it kind of genius? Also yes. Online dating helps to connect people who very likely wouldn’t have met otherwise. It helps to broaden people’s social networks. 

One could argue that there is a greater disconnect between people when dating online. It’s easier to be more emotionally distant when separated by a screen. For example, if you start chatting with someone you met in person, you are less likely to “ghost” them, stand them up or just generally be a jerk to them. 

When you meet someone online, there is a certain disconnect, leaving your relationship a bit more impersonal. It’s easier to disregard feelings when you have yet to meet someone in person. It’s also easier to keep someone at a distance and string them along. 

Other bad behavior stemming from online dating could be expressing disappointment when meeting someone in person, saying that they don’t look like they did in their profile. 

Even after weighing its pros and cons, this new era of online dating undeniably has perks. 

There’s just something about being able to browse through potential Tinder matches on your couch, in your pajamas, that appeals to a great deal of people. This new generation of dating surely is different than those of the past, but dating apps don’t seem to be going anywhere.