I ordered a MacBook case from Amazon. It’s marble and makes me feel like I’m adhering to the Tumblr aesthetic.
We order cases online. We read articles online. We order food. We make Facebook study groups.
Our world is becoming increasingly grounded in virtual reality, and yet we still harbor major judgment about meeting people online. After the initial craze of Tinder died down, it became weird to still be on it. We hold judgment about people meeting on Grindr, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel. If someone in college is on eHarmony, we think they’re prematurely considering spinsterhood.
But why is there still a stigma about meeting online? How does it really differ from meeting someone in a bar? Or bumping into someone in line at the grocery store?
“It seems like a last resort,” said Claire.
Part of it is residual—judgment passed down from our parents. Our parents didn’t grow up with the Internet, so they view it with a certain disdain and distance. My parents grew up a mile from each other, and met while volunteering at their former middle school. My grandparents grew up together. Their world was small, and their dating pool was even smaller.
But with the advent of the Internet, our world has been cracked wide open. When I was abroad, I was able to be as annoyed by my parents as I am when I’m standing right next to them. Our world is big and small; everything is instantaneous. As millennials, we don’t see the Internet as some foreign entity. We see it as a natural extension of social interaction. But with the positive comes the dark side.
“It’s anonymous, so people use it to be the weirdest versions of themselves,” said Kate. And that anonymity—and the subsequent weirdness—creates a blanket generalization. If one person was weird, then they all must be weird, right? Because the Internet is the safe haven for weirdos, it carries the bad rap that if you are using it for dating, then you must have something wrong with you.
But that’s not the case. In the same way that people used professional matchmakers and blind dates, we use social dating apps. We’re busy, and sometimes we want to take the impetus out of our own hands. I can only ask out so many people before I want to give up, grab a pint of ice cream and curl up in a ball. It’s not just desperate people who are utilizing the digital dating scene. It’s us; it’s me; it’s you.
“I went through and all of my friends had either a Bumble or something, and I thought, ‘Well you guys are normal,'” said Emma.
So if normal people are using apps like Tinder and Hinge, then the Internet can’t just be for the millennial Norman Bates' of the world. It’s time that we stop keeping our habits in the metaphorical closet. Everyone and their mother—sometimes literally—uses dating apps and websites. It’s the way of the world. And the sooner we acknowledge that, the sooner the stigma will diminish. Our world is becoming increasingly digital, so dating online will become more and more common. I don’t think it’ll ever replace the traditional meet-cutes, so keep loitering around that cute barista, but don’t love-shame your friend who uses Tinder recreationally.
Unless they’re literally Norman Bates, in which case maybe report that? Use your judgment.