Are dating apps responsible for 'hookup' culture?


Fact Box

  • By the 1960s, with the rise of feminism, availability of birth control and growth of sex-integrated college party events, young adults became even more sexually liberated. Today, hooking up has become increasingly typical and socially acceptable.
  • In colleges, “hookup culture” refers to the idea that casual sexual encounters are the best form of interaction.
  • Dating apps took over as the new social obsession in the early 2000’s. Tinder launched in 2012, making over a million matches in less than two months. Since launching in 2009, Grindr has grown into the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people. Bumble was founded in 2014 as a platform for women to make the first move. 
  • 48% of 18- to 29-year-olds say have ever used a dating site or app, while only 38% of 30- to 49-year-olds have, and even lower for those 50 plus (16%).

Louie (No)

Dating apps have revolutionized romance and facilitated modern connectivity; however, the notion that they are responsible for 'hookup' culture is statistically flawed. Sexual curiosity is a natural element of the human psyche and has been expressed for millions of years. Hookup culture has been integrated into American society way before dating apps, originating in the 'Free Love Movement' of the 1850s-1860s. Sexual desire led to the loosening of marriage formalities in the 1920s, revolutionizing the term 'hookup.' In addition to the historical explanation of how hookup culture became 'relevant,' there is a plethora of information about dating apps' usage. According to a study from the University of Michigan, 63% of Tinder users say they use it out of 'boredom'. This is where the concept of gamification' became a driving factor in ones' use of dating apps

eHarmony CEO, Grant Langston, stated in response to the gamification theory, 'I have a friend, mid-40's, single, beautiful, who uses Tinder and never expects to have a single date. She comes home from work, pours a big glass of wine, and browses through men for evening entertainment.' Another indication of how hookup culture is not being influenced strongly by dating apps is the statistical data of hookups themselves. Nowadays, people in their early 20s are nearly three times as likely to be abstinent compared to Gen Xers at that age. 15% percent of this demographic reported that they remained virgins until adulthood. Considerably, dating apps have not increased hookup culture, which is proven from data-driven analysis and historical revelations.

Jessica (Yes)

Dating apps are definitely responsible for hookup culture. As the generations have progressed, sex has been increasingly devalued. This has much to do with self-gratification and the instant access dating apps provide to those looking for sex on demand.

Associate professor, Tina Timm, says that dating apps have made people confused about the difference between romance and hookups, and asserts that hookup culture is becoming 'more prevalent.' 

Timm teaches at MSU and specializes in sexuality. She points out that people are having sex first and then getting to know each other later. She explains: '…[dating apps are] not an avenue for long term intimacy…Intimacy involves vulnerability, and vulnerability happens face-to-face.'

There are many dating apps to choose from, such as Bumble, Grindr, and Tinder, but many believe that online communication is sorely lacking when long-term partner-seeking. Texting makes conversations superficial because it cannot convey tone or body language, making it easy to misinterpret. Relationship Etiquette Expert, Mara Opperman, points out it is impossible to feel any physical chemistry when having conversations online. 

Opperman continued that '…dating apps have given rise to a pick and choose shopping behavior that emphasizes looks more so than ever,' in a Huffington Post article entitled, 'The Superficiality of Online Dating Apps.' In the article, she told an anecdote about her mother's opinion of dating apps, in which she expressed pity that men didn't have to get to know women, date them, or even call them anymore before hooking up.

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