Social Media Malaise and Online Dating

Are the negative aspects of social media influencing dating apps?

Thomas Kovacs

Software Engineer and Founder of personly and astateful

Social media has been receiving a lot of negative attention lately regarding the depression that is being induced amongst its large user base. However, nobody is really talking about the similar depression that is being induced from online dating services as well.

For most (if not all?) matching services, much like social media there is the constant expectation from the platform to project the best version of ones self to the world. In terms of profile pictures, this has resulted in endless streams of vacation photos, great bodies, enjoyment at fun events, etc. With respect to profile descriptions, it is not much different: descriptions such as love for vacations, no "ONS", etc are frequently observed time and time again. When combined with the photos, the end result from browsing these profiles is a dystopian world of perfection and unmeetable expectations where the reality of people, in the sense of who they truly are and what they want, is not being actively nurtured and revealed.

After all, we as people need to have our needs nurtured and cared for. And through the course of meeting people online we should be having much more meaningful experiences. So why is it such a chore using these services? Why are women still waiting for the man to write first? Why is there so much pressure to say the perfect thing or be a certain way, lest you be instantly unmatched? What about the negative feeling of not being matched by anyone? Or feelings of depression when you view profile after profile of people seemingly having so much fun and knowing exactly what they want?

The reason is that the service has been designed that way. By placing the photos as the prominent feature of the profile, by providing your real name, by having limited space to write about yourself, and by trying to find that "perfect match", you are being actively forced to present the truncated watered down version of yourself to the world. There is no room for uncertainty or for imperfection. And there is no real chance to actually get to know someone in a relaxed way. The elation of actually being matched within this mess is the stimulus that keeps people coming back for more, much like gambling. In summary, the prospect of a match is addictive much in the same way as social media is in terms of overall negative reinforcement with the outside chance something positive can come from it.

So how can this be solved? At personly we provide you with however many personals you desire to see, thus alleviating the burden of manual selection. You are given more space to write with the additional option for sharing pictures later. You are anonymised, thus allowing you to better express yourself. The platform is allowing you to be more of who you want to be and express much more of who you are. The gratification in using personly should hopefully come from meeting new and interesting people, or as should be said, the value of personly is lying more so within the journey, not so much the destination. The destination we will leave to you.

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Social Media Malaise and Online Dating

Are the negative aspects of social media influencing dating apps?