Logging off online dating

Maggie Curran, Opinion Editor

In a world where online dating is stereotypically for middle-aged divorcees, I was pretty shocked when Tinder became so popular among young adults and teens. Six billion matches have already been made on the app since its release in 2012, and according to founder Justin Mateen, 67 percent of users are between the ages of 18 and 24. Needless to say, this app is huge. Its format almost turns online dating into a game, with the stakes being whether someone “swipes right” on your profile to show their interest in you, or “swipes left” to politely decline. Users can scroll through dozens of profiles in minutes. This an online speed dating innovation that keeps up with the fast-paced lives of the younger generation.

Still, I never imagined the day when someone my age would turn to the internet for their next relationship, much less be willing to chat with random strangers based on a few photos and a short bio. Not everyone you meet online will be Tom Hanks in the film, “You’ve Got Mail.” And while Tinder has proven with time to be less relationship-oriented and more of a widespread game of “Hot or Not,” there’s still an increase in online dating in our generation, which begs the question: how far will it go?

The answer: already too far. The newest craze in online dating may be the saddest one yet. The app, Invisible Boyfriend, and its counterpart, Invisible Girlfriend,  allow users to fill in information about themselves and receive texts, handwritten letters, and voicemails geared for their personal interests from a fake significant other. The worst part is that the messages come from an actual person, sitting behind a computer and talking to multiple people like a creepy real-life version of the robots from the film “Her.” This is the most bizarre online dating experience yet, and people are actually buying it. Literally. The app costs $25 every month to lie to yourself and to others that you are, in fact, dating someone even though you do have to pay for them to talk to you.

I’m all for the idea of live and let live, but something about this seems too wrong. I can only imagine how terribly low one’s self-esteem must be before downloading the app, and even worse, how they got to that point. Maybe users had nowhere left to turn after having no luck on other dating sites. The viral video of a woman meeting men she matched with on Tinder only proves how brutal online dating can be. While in reality and in her photos she was extremely thin, she wore a fat suit when meeting the men to gauge their reactions. Four out of the five dates got angry with her for “lying” and left, and the remaining bachelor couldn’t stop asking her about her weight gain. Take that, in comparison to getting kind and personalized text messages from a fake boyfriend, and you can almost see where these people are coming from.

It’s a harsh world without the stress of online dating, which is why I had felt relieved when previously it didn’t seem to be of interest to younger generations. Now, I’m terrified. Surely choosing between a fake boyfriend and scrolling through photo after photo of guys on Tinder can’t be the only options left.

I’m far from being a technophobe, but if online dating is the new norm, I’m going to have to sit this one out. Our generation is already known for its lack of people skills, and I doubt another barrier in communication is going to help improve that. Maybe with time the fad will die and face-to-face conversation will make its comeback. But until then, I’m swiping left on the concept of online dating.