Walter stares at the eHarmony page on his desktop from across the room. The pale morning light reflects off of his glasses: a nervous glint appears as he continues to apprehensively observe his coworker’s profile. He hesitates, musters the courage to click the digital wink button on the page, and is disappointed to find that his worries were all for naught. His profile had malfunctioned.
If this scene sounds familiar to you, it’s because you have good taste in movies. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” reboot hit screens in 2013, right around the time when online dating was becoming popular with millennials.
Stylight Magazine stated, “Whatever taboo that remained of internet courtship quickly fell to the wayside when technology-discerning 20-somethings started swiping in 2012. … Since (Tinder’s) release, the app has garnered over 50 million swipe-happy users in more than 190 countries.”
An apparent commentary on the fears and stagnation that keep us from truly living, the aforementioned film encourages its viewers to live life by the ABCs: to be adventurous, brave and creative. For Walter, this means facing his fears and taking steps outside of the digital screen.
In keeping with the types of questions and concerns raised by “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a large concern within Christian circles is whether or not Christians should use online dating apps. Some argue that we have access to a much wider pool of eligible singles on dating apps than we do in person. Christianity.com claims that this method represents a lack of faith in God’s timing. Additionally, using dating sites could become an unfortunate replacement for a friend or church leader’s guidance when it comes to dating.
Desiring to gain more information and feeling a little averse to the idea of downloading any dating apps myself, I took to the academic lawn to ask the student body for their opinions and personal snap judgements of these digital cupids.
Sydney Green, an undergrad student, believes that intention is key when it comes to why one would use a dating app.
“I find that the people (who) are on one dating app tend to be on three dating apps. … What is the need that you’re trying to fulfill?”
Graduate student Tim Dawson said that he’d never used a dating app before.
“I think dating apps in general (are) good, I just think (they’re) not authentic. I think you should meet the person, and actually get to know them.”
When asked if they believed that dopamine had a part to play in why individuals are attracted to dating apps, students overwhelmingly asserted that dopamine (similarly to its role in social media engagement) is likely a huge reason behind dating app usage.
“I think that people use all social media as (a) dopamine hit,” Green said.
Dawson stated that it has a large influence over dating app users.
“It plays a big role. … I have friends who have a hard time staying off those apps in relationships.”
Now, I write these observations not to invalidate relationships established through dating apps. My uncle and aunt found each other on eHarmony and have lived a wonderful, full life together. The story is much the same for many couples around the world.
What I’m seeking to say, rather, is that there is perhaps a fullness of life that cannot be experienced from behind a phone or computer screen and a shallowness more easily accessible through this online medium. Online dating may be a perfect means of finding love for some, but it certainly should not be seen as the right way for everyone.
Emeri Glen is the social media & web manager for the Liberty Champion