Dating apps, devices and microcoordination

Mary Chayco’s book SuperConntected: The Internet, Digital Media, & Techno-Social Life dives into the 24/7 connectedness we have to others. We, as technology users, are connected to our social groups 24/7 regardless of physical location. As I was reading through Chapter 8, I kept bringing the content back to users on dating apps.

Dating App Pic

Screenshot of available dating apps for iPhone.

This connectedness and constant availability can hinder relationships as much as it can strengthen them. For a moment, consider the available dating apps: Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, League, etc. In these apps, users can open the app, connect with other users, and message the person virtually immediately as long as it’s a mutual connection. But when and how does the other person respond? If the person responds immediately they may come off desperate, however – as users who are essentially constantly available and connected, how long is appropriate to wait before responding? There’s are tons of articles on the internet offering advice to users on this subject, like this one from EliteDaily “How Long Should You Wait to Respond to a Message on A Dating App?” which says the key is to wait five minutes. Chayco says, “because the internet and digital media permit individuals to contact one another at a moment’s notice, people often expect to be able to reach one another and to make plans at any time. These rational expectations can be heightened when people want or need extra attention” (p.183). In the dating app scene, I believe it is true that these types of rational expectations are heightened. Users are expecting a timely reaction because of how connected we all are to our phones, but balancing those technological expectations with dating expectations can add some confusion in the mix.

modern dating

Once users on these apps connect with a person, they can message the person through the app and make plans to meet up in real life. Chayco continues in this chapter to discuss the ease of making plans with technology, she calls it microcoordination (p. 184). Sure, technology like cell phones give users an easy way to make & change & adjust plans but, as Chayco says “it can also help contribute to a climate in which plans and schedules are generally seen as vague, indefinite, and perpetually incomplete” (p. 184). I listen to this podcast, “U Up?which is a podcast about modern dating (p.s. It’s hilarious and I highly recommend it). In the podcast,  Jared Freid and Jordana Abraham, the co-hosts, are regularly getting emails from listeners and discussing how to move dates from casual conversation on the apps to a real-life date. And they are always discussing how so many people are getting ghosted (see #2), getting dates canceled last minute, and generally having texting conversations about going on a date but never actually making the plans.

u up

Image: U Up? Podcast Cover Photo

Weighing the readings this week against modern dating and dating apps, it seems that technology is making it easier than ever to meet people online, but harder than ever to actually make plans and follow through. Gone are the days of formal dates and grand gestures to win someone over. In today’s dating scene, dating apps seems to be the norm, where users are consistently connected to each other, but somehow this connectedness perhaps also hindering relationships.  

Posted on September 20, 2018, in Digital, mobile, Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think dating apps allow people to behave badly because people are somewhat unaccountable in online dating. In physical world interactions, you are expected to behave politely…in a way that is reinforced by mutual friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. When a person is anonymous or doesn’t have common acquaintances to worry about, there are less consequences for being a jerk. I was once ghosted by a guy I met in person, but we didn’t have any mutual friends and we lived in different cities, which made it easier for him to disappear.

    I met my boyfriend, who I’ve been dating for a year, online. We actually met on Tinder. (I have a friend who married a guy she met on Tinder.) After swiping right on each other in the morning, we exchanged a few messages, talked on the phone that afternoon, and set up a date the same night. We both are nice people who are good communicators and respond quickly to messages. Those are some of the reasons we get along so well.

    • I totally agree with your point about accountability. I think that goes beyond just dating apps and into the online “sphere” in general. Have you ever read the comments section of an online news article? People can be brutal, and I think it’s because they are hiding behind this “mask” of their online self. They sign in with a generic username and nobody knows who they are, they don’t have to be accountable for what they say.

      I know lots of people who have met their significant others on the dating apps! I think they have a place and are definitely a norm in modern dating, but users definitely need to exercise some additional caution before meeting up with people in real life.

  2. What a great application of the readings to a popular trend! You’ll see that even Pew Internet has reported stats on online dating:

    While I don’t have any personal experience with these apps, I have recently been studying online fandoms on Tumblr and know that people with similar interests are turning to online spaces to “meet” one another.

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