Finding romance in the digital age

Technology, at a glance, seems callous and uncaring鈥攖angled wires, whizzing servers, cold circuit boards concealed behind rectangular glass screens, a descending concord of ones and zeros sent to and from space in order to get you that four bar Wi-Fi connection.

But technology, when paired with love and sex, is different.

Technology has made these things more accessible than ever before. No matter how intrinsically animistic, or provisional, or visceral sexuality may seem, it is fundamentally just about connection, and with the simple swipe of the finger, we are now able to connect with literally thousands of potential suitors from around the world, a phenomenon that has arguably changed the face of casual dating more than the inception of the latex condom.

Only a few years ago, online dating was considered a faux pas鈥攁 form of connection exclusively reserved for the cretins of this world who feel the need to be veiled behind a computer screen in order to find romance. But this has all changed, as have the conventions and protocols of how modern dating actually looks.

There is this strange juxtaposition between anonymity and voyeurism when it comes to technology. It is not abnormal to feel secluded when our heads are hung low, hidden behind a glowing screen of meticulously calculated text messages and endless globs of high definition pornography.

At its worst, online dating has made people expendable; if someone doesn鈥檛 neatly conform to your idyllic dreamboat, they are cast away, lost and forgotten to online obscurity, promptly replaced with one of the hundreds of other faces neatly organized for you on your phone. Not to mention, meeting strangers from the Internet can be risky business, as evident by the recent string of attacks targeting the POC/LGBTQ community. But, at its best, online dating has created a serendipitous method for finding a connection that you wouldn鈥檛 have found otherwise. People get hitched, children are born鈥攐r, at the very least, two thirsty people get to exchange naughty fluids鈥攁ll because both parties decided to download a dating app when they were bored. And that is kind of amazing.

In case you are curious as to what the Internet has to offer your love life, we decided to scope out the four most popular online dating services. Hopefully, this will help your Valentine’s Day get a little more romantic.

Here鈥檚 to plugging in, dialing up, and getting off.

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OkCupid

For a while, this was the most pervasive of all dating sites, and it still feels cringe-worthy to be associated with. The name itself infers that you are submitting to some fantastical entity鈥攁 fat fairy with a bow and arrow who forces us to fall in love against our will. And considering how easy it is to overly romanticize users who share our interests in Adventure Time and dubstep, this symbolism isn鈥檛 too far off. Although waning in popularity, OKC is still the most accessible way to do a full-scale search of who you think might be your next ex.

Pros:

Match calculator algorithm to help find like-minded users

Easy-to-use interface

Multi-variable search engine

Free browsing of all users, including answers to their questions on ethics, sex, and dating

A fully-functioning website for the folks without a smartphone

Cons:

More likely to receive unwanted and/or unsolicited messages from creepers

Anyone can see your account and your frequency of usage

Very little privacy

An intimidating number of users and messages make using this service a little daunting 聽 聽

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Tinder

During its inception, Tinder was known as a hetero-friendly Grindr, an app designed solely for finding casual sex. Though this is still certainly the case for many users, the apps purpose has transcended its primary function. Because it plays like a game, it has, in a way, deconstructed the notion of online desperation鈥攁fter all, we are all just swiping to pass the time, right? However, the app still feels shallow, especially when swiping left, stamping a giant 鈥渘ope鈥 on the face of someone you find undesirable. But hey, at least you get to judge their Spotify playlist.

Pros:

Ease of use

Algorithms that put forth your best photo for you

Option to 鈥渟uper like鈥 a user, notifying them directly you鈥檇 like to 鈥渕eet鈥 them

You can only receive messages from your matches, filtering out creepers

Plays like a game, delegitimizing the notion of desperation

Cons:

Will never not be associated as a hookup app

Inability to search for users

Chock-full of fuck boys

Filled with lots of robots and spam

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Bumble

Finally, an app that caters to the needs of women: i.e. the ability to peruse potential suitors without being bombarded with dick pics. If you’re unfamiliar with the service, it works a lot like Tinder, except Bumble requires women to message first, even after a match is made. This not only filters out the influx of weird massages, but it also encourages communication as matches are eventually timed out if no messages are sent. This way, you aren鈥檛 left with 100 matches you have no interest in talking to. Even better, Bumble offers a BFF feature for those of you who are just looking to match up with聽a shiny new platonic friend.

Pros:

Women, for once, are put in charge

First ever strictly platonic option

Time limit to message matches, incentivizing聽 聽

users to connect

Gaining popularity everyday

Cons:

路Very few search variables

路Not much information available on users

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Grindr

As long as dating apps have been around, Grindr has been there, serving the gay male community as a way to find romance. Although the app is primarily used for casual sex, there are still users out there who use it as a conduit for love. Not only can you see how far away other users are relative to your location, but you can organize your matches into tribes, including daddy/dom, bear, jock, etc. Who knows, your perfect match might be only 1,000 feet away.

Pros:

One of the only dating apps designed exclusively for gay men

Users organized by distance, making it easy to connect with someone down to the street

If you are looking to get laid, this app is for you

Cons:

Many users only use this app for casual sex

Unless you are a paying member, the number of users you can see is limited

More than likely, you will be sent a picture of a penis

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