Needless to say, online dating has existed for a while now. But Slater doesn't offer up much hard evidence that monogamy is truly 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. Instead, he introduces us to Jacob, the pseudonymous thirty something schlub I alluded to previously. Jacob is a committed Green Bay Packer's fan who is less than excited concerning the notion of a 40-hour workweek. Naughty Date near Hawthorn Australia. He's also convinced that the constant temptations of online dating have kept him from settling down. And other than quotations from the executives of a few various matchmaking websites, whose insights boil down to entries that their products are not designed to foster long term relationships, his story makes up the majority of the piece.
Dan Slater thinks you should blame the Internet. His article in this month'sAtlantic, "A Million First Dates," claims that online matchmaking services like OKCupid and eHarmony are so strong that they are obligated to infect us all with a collective case of amorous ADHD - or, as he puts it, that "the growth of online dating will mean an overall drop in devotion." The urge to look for "an ever-more-compatible mate with all the tap of a mouse" will prove so intoxicating over the long term, he writes, that it could sabotage the very beliefs of marriage and monogamy.
Taking a moral-panic approach to something like mobile online dating makes for a good storyline, but in addition, it drowns out the opportunity for a richer 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 is likely altering their behavior in a number of different, sometimes contradictory ways. In some instances, it's likely helping folks locate husbands and wives sooner, leading them to have fewer sex partners. In others, it likely does lead to some conclusion paralysis and discouragement with dating. In many cases, it probably merely reinforces the user's preexisting preferences --- pro- or anti-promiscuity, pro- or anti-finding someone to settle downwith.
But it doesn't matter whether the conclusions of the study make sense" to Sales. The entire point of a large, nationally representative sample is that it captures a bigger portion of the picture 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 explain 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 considerably reduced by the promotion of AIDS drugs and other societal factors." But again --- it does not matter whether or not given findings seem right" unless you can describe why the data'swrong.
If dating culture were in fact imploding into a sticky morass of one-night-stands in any purposeful manner, it would probably appear in this type of information. But Sales addressed this study completely to brush it away in a parenthetical paragraph noting the writers told her their analysis was based partly on projections derived from a statistical model, not completely from direct side by side comparisons of amounts of sex partners reported by respondents." Well, no --- there are lots 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 manner over the years. As for the projections," that only refers to the fact that the writers can't provide lifetime numbers of sexual partners for millennials who are still very much living, so they projected that one category. It does not bear on the complete finding that there's no hint of an explosion in promiscuity. (To be fair, the paper's data ends in 2012, which was pre-Tinder, but nicely into the era of OKCupid and other internet dating services that opened up an entirely new world of sex and datingpartners.)
If anyone is equipped to answer these questions about dating and sexual mores in a more strict manner, it's the social scientists using national surveys to examine attitudes and behavior change over time. In her piece, Sales mentions the research of Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University and also the author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled --- and More Miserable Than Ever Before Twenge is the co-author, with Ryne Sherman of Florida Atlantic University, of a study released earlier this year in which the pair examined the effects of the General Social Survey, a (mostly) annual, nationally representative survey that's been administered for decades, between 1972 and 2012. The data, culled from between about 27,000 and 33,000 Americans (there were different amounts of answers available for distinct questions and years), revealed that millennials seem to be having sex with fewer partners than the last couple generations were --- especially, Amount of sexual partners rose 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 population to study, yes, however they can't be used as a stand-in for millennials" or society" or any other such broad groups. Where are the 20-somethings in committed relationships in Sales' article? Where are the awkward, lonely young men who feel like they can not find anyone to have sex with, let alone date them? Where are the women who stay off Tinder because they don't like the meat market feel of it? Where are the men as well as women who locate life partners from these programs? (Just off the very top of my head, I can think of one man I know who met his husband on Grindr along with a girl who met her fianc on Tinder, along with innumerable long term relationships that started on OKCupid.) Where are the many, many millennials who get married within 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. But there continue to be millions of young people muddling through relatively traditional" experiences of dating (and romanticdeprivation).
The issue is that while Sales certainly spins a good yarn, it doesn't actually add up to evidence that something revolutionary is afoot. It's one thing to write an ethnographic piece about Tinder-maters in their own natural habitat; it's another to extrapolate this to make far-reaching claims about the epochal ways dating and sex are shifting. This goes back to that anecdote/data thing. Rambling about and talking to folks is important --- is, in fact, a cornerstone of journalism --- but there are inherent constraints to it. There will necessarily be some prejudice in who you talk to, or in who is willing to speak to you; in Sales' instance, we hear nearly exclusively from young, single people that are active (sometimes overactive) Tinder users, and virtually altogether from guys that are always looking for casual sex. In other words, Sales is speaking to just the sorts of people you'd expect to utilize dating apps in a manner that will help them locate more people to sleep with, and then, having found that these promiscuous folks make use of a promiscuity-empowering app to find other promiscuous people to get promiscuous sex with, reporting back to us that we are in the midst of a promiscuity-fueled dating revolution" in how individuals cope with romance and sex. This really is known as confirmationbias.
Sales' account is loaded with anecdotes: There's the finance guy who claims to have slept with 30 to 40 women off Tinder in the last year; the 23-year old male model who insists that women want guys to send them cock pics (great narrative, bro); the sorority sisters bemoaning the reality that college men, drenched with simple accessibility to sex, are so poor at it; as well as the 26-year-old man --- think of him as a Tinder-era Walter Sobchak --- who guarantees Sales that if he wanted to, he could find someone to have sex with bymidnight.
The traditional methods of dating and courtship are out; constantly jumping from fling to fling is in. And women, regardless of the supposed advantages of sexual liberation, are coming out losers in this hurried new sexual landscape --- used, then discarded in a pile of dick pics. Naughty Date nearest Victoria. 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 guys, and it adds up to a number of sleazy, depressing storylines. And she is hardly the very first journalist to raise this alarm: Over the last couple of 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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