Obviously, online dating has been around for a while now. But Slater doesn't offer up much hard evidence that monogamy is actually becoming passe in this state, other than to point out that divorce rates have improved - an oversimplification of what's happened in the previous few decades. Rather, he presents us to Jacob, the pseudonymous thirty-something schlub I alluded to above. Jacob is a dedicated Green Bay Packer's buff who's less than excited about the notion of a 40-hour workweek. Casual Encounter near Sydney, Australia. He is also convinced the persistent temptations of online dating have kept him from settling down. And other than quotes from the executives of a couple various matchmaking sites, whose insights boil down to entrances that their products are not designed to cultivate long-term relationships, his storyline makes up the bulk of the piece.
Dan Slater believes you ought to attribute the Internet. His article in this month'sAtlantic, "A Million First Dates," claims that online matchmaking services like OKCupid and eHarmony are so strong they are bound to infect us all with a collective case of romantic ADHD - or, as he puts it, that "the rise of online dating will mean an overall drop in commitment." The impulse to search for "an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a mouse" will prove so intoxicating over the long term, he writes, that it may sabotage the very notions of marriage and monogamy.
Taking a moral-panic approach to something like mobile online dating makes for a great story, but in addition, it drowns out the opportunity for a more abundant dialog, and hardens specific false notions about millennial culture. Online dating certainly is changing how many people meet other individuals and date and have sex. But it's probably altering their behaviour in all sorts of different, sometimes conflicting ways. Sometimes, it is probably helping individuals locate husbands and wives sooner, leading them to have fewer sex partners. In others, it probably does lead to some decision paralysis and frustration with dating. Oftentimes, it probably only reinforces the user's preexisting preferences --- pro- or anti-promiscuity, pro- or anti-finding someone to settle downwith.
But it does not matter whether the conclusions of the study make sense" to Sales. The entire purpose of a large, nationally representative sample is that it gets a bigger cut of the graphic than more piecemeal efforts like conventional journalism. Later in her e-mail to me, Sales referenced Twenge's argument in her paper the anxiety about AIDS could clarify the truth that while approval of casual sex is going up, there hasn't quite been a commensurate rise in the number of people's sexual partners. This really didn't appear correct to me, either, since fear of AIDS has been much reduced by the promotion of AIDS drugs and other social factors." But, again --- it does not matter whether or not given findings appear right" unless you can clarify why the data'swrong.
If dating culture were in fact imploding into a difficult morass of one night stands in any purposeful way, it would likely show up in this sort of information. But Sales addressed this study exclusively to brush it aside in a parenthetical paragraph noting that the authors told her their evaluation was based partly on projections derived from a statistical model, not completely from direct side by side comparisons of numbers of sex partners reported by respondents." Well, no --- there are loads of side by side comparisons in Twenge and Sherman's research, since the study is based on a survey in which the same question is asked in the same way over the years. As for the projections," that merely refers to the truth that the authors can not supply life numbers of sexual partners for millennials who are still very much living, so they projected that one class. It does not bear on the complete finding that there is no indication of an explosion in promiscuity. (To be fair, the paper's data ends in 2012, which was pre-Tinder, but nicely into the age of OKCupid and other internet dating services that opened up a whole new universe of sex and datingpartners.)
If anyone is equipped to answer these questions about dating and sexual mores in a more strict manner, it is the social scientists who use national surveys to analyze approaches and behavior change with time. In her piece, Sales cites the research of Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University as well as the author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled --- and More Miserable Than Ever Before Twenge is the coauthor, with Ryne Sherman of Florida Atlantic University, of a study released earlier this year in which the pair analyzed the consequences of the General Social Survey, a (largely) annual, nationally representative survey that's been managed for decades, between 1972 and 2012. The data, culled from between about 27,000 and 33,000 Americans (there were different numbers of responses available for distinct questions and years), showed that millennials seem to be having sex with fewer partners than the last couple generations were --- specifically, Amount of sexual partners increased steadily between the G.I.s and 1960s-born Gen X'ers and then dipped among Millennials to return to Boomerlevels."
Tinder super-users are an important slice of the populace to study, yes, however they can't be used as a stand-in for millennials" or society" or any other such broad classes. Where are the 20-somethings in committed relationships in Sales' article? Where are the awkward, lonely young men who feel like they can't find anyone to have sex with, let alone date them? Where are the women who stay off Tinder since they do not enjoy the meat market feel of it? Where are the men and women who find life partners from these apps? (Just off the very top of my head, I can think of one guy I know who met his husband on Grindr as well as a woman who met her fianc on Tinder, as well as innumerable long term relationships that started on OKCupid.) Where are the many, many millennials who get married in their early or mid-20s? Reading Sales' post, you'd think Tinder had wiped out all these millennials like, well, that aforementioned asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. However there are still millions of young people muddling through comparatively conventional" experiences of dating (and romanticdeprivation).
The issue is that while Sales certainly spins a good yarn, it does not really add up to signs that something groundbreaking is afoot. It's one thing to write an ethnographic piece about Tinder-maters in their natural habitat; it's another to extrapolate this to make sweeping claims about the epochal ways dating and sex are shifting. This goes back to that anecdote/data thing. Roaming about and speaking to folks is important --- is, in fact, a basis of journalism --- but there are constitutional constraints to it. There will necessarily be some bias in who you speak to, or in who's willing to talk to you; in Sales' case, we hear nearly exclusively from young, single individuals who are active (sometimes overactive) Tinder users, and nearly altogether from guys that are constantly looking for casual sex. To put it differently, Sales is speaking to precisely the kinds of people you'd expect to use dating programs in a way that can help them locate more folks to sleep with, and then, having found that these promiscuous people use a promiscuity-enabling app to locate other promiscuous folks to have promiscuous sex with, reporting back to us that we're in the midst of a promiscuity-fueled dating revolution" in how individuals deal with romance and sex. This really is known as confirmationbias.
Sales' account is loaded with anecdotes: There is the finance guy who claims to have slept with 30 to 40 women off Tinder in the past year; the 23-year-old male model who insists that women need guys to send them penis pics (great story, bro); the sorority sisters bemoaning the fact that college men, drenched with simple access to sex, are so awful at it; and also the 26-year old guy --- think of him as a Tinder-age Walter Sobchak --- who assures Sales that if he wanted to, he could find someone to have sex with bymidnight.
The standard methods of dating and courtship are outside; constantly leaping from fling to fling is in. And women, despite the supposed advantages of sexual liberation, are coming out losers in this hurried new sexual landscape --- used, then lost in a load of penis pics. Casual encounter closest to New South Wales. For the post, Sales ran interviews with more than 50 young women in New York, Indiana, and Delaware, aged 19 to 29," in addition to many men, and it adds up to a string of sleazy, depressing storylines. And she is hardly the very first journalist to raise this alarm: Over the past few years, reports on hookup culture" --- some focusing on alcohol and campus culture, some on technology, and some on both ---have become a booming genre
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