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Swipe Left: Dating Apps Have Killed Romance

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  • Risk & Romance

    Daniel Jones, editor of the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column, has read more than 80,000 essays on love. His analysis? There are two types of people: those who give up on love after heartbreak and those who keep their hearts open.

  • Do Dating Apps Add Up?

    Does expanding your dating pool online lead to more connections and a greater shot at lasting love? Or does the endless opportunity simply create frustration and unrest? Helen Fisher and Manoush Zomorodi debate.

  • Dating Algorithms, Explained

    Have algorithms unlocked the math of match-making? OkCupid’s head engineer Tom Jacques explains the science of digital dating. WNYC’s resident tech expert Manoush Zomorodi responds.

  • Dating Apps & Discrimination

    Does online dating create a platform for racial discrimination and cultural bias? Or, as Tom Jaques argues, are these sites leading the charge against such behavior and serving as prominent advocates for inclusion in romance?

  • Engineering Love

    OkCupid’s Tom Jacques gets personal and talks about meeting the love of his life online

  • The Valentine's Debate

    Is Valentine’s Day actually good for romance? Our debaters weigh in.

  • LGBT Relationships Online

    Debater Tom Jacques argues that dating apps have made dating simple and accessible, particularly for LGBT couples.

  • Keynote Conversation with Daniel Jones

    Daniel Jones, editor of the New York Times' "Modern Love" column, speaks with John Donvan on how love and romance has changed since the arrival of dating apps.

Debate Details

Dating Apps Have Killed Romance

Every day millions of people turn to dating apps to find love. To date, more than 49 million Americans have given digital dating a try and the companies facilitating these matches are raking in billions. But are dating apps really designed to promote long-lasting romance? Apps like Tinder and Bumble make finding a date as easy as swiping right, while digital platforms like Match.com and OkCupid use specialized algorithms to help users find the perfect partner, regardless of age or personal preferences. Further, a range of niche sites connect people with highly specific interests, whether it’s single parenthood, a gluten-free lifestyle, or a devotion to Ayn Rand. But some argue that online dating is rife with sexism, racism, and misogyny, and that dating apps ultimately create a culture that prioritizes sex over committed and lasting love. After all, why settle on one match when there may be someone better just a swipe away? 

The Debaters

Keynote Speaker

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones

Editor, New York Times' "Modern Love" Column

Daniel Jones has edited the “Modern Love” column in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times since its inception in October 2004. Jones... Read More

For the motion

Eric Klinenberg

Eric Klinenberg

Sociologist & Co-Author, Modern Romance

Eric Klinenberg is a professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is a co-author of Modern... Read More

Manoush Zomorodi

Manoush Zomorodi

Host and Managing Editor, Note to Self

Manoush Zomorodi is the host and managing editor of Note to Self, "the tech show about being human," from WNYC Studios. She has won numerous awards... Read More

Against the motion

Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher

Biological Anthropologist, Best-Selling Author & Chief Scientific Adviser, Match.com

Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist, is a senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, a member of the Center... Read More

Tom Jacques

Tom Jacques

Vice President of Engineering, OkCupid

Tom Jacques is vice president of engineering at OkCupid, a leading dating site that boasts more than 3.5 million users and sees over seven million... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Match-making algorithms are grounded in a false logic that suggests a ‘soulmate’ can be determined by a series of characteristics and lifestyle preferences. Further, they filter away potential connections based on arbitrary metrics like hair color, height, and Facebook likes. 
  • Be it racist or sexist comments, coarse language generally, or unsolicited personal photos, dating apps are a breeding ground for bad behavior that not only degrades romance but society itself. 
  • Apps like Tinder have made dating an exercise in excess.  Why settle for one match when thousands of others are just a swipe away? 
  • By necessity, dating apps are designed to keep users from long-term commitments like marriage.  If lasting love was the goal, the sites would go out of business.
Against The Motion
  • Using targeted algorithms, dating apps help users find compatible life partners who share similar values, aspirations, and interests. 
  • By bringing singles from various social, economic, and geographic backgrounds together, dating apps break down barriers associated with traditional dating and foster meaningful connections across cultures and social strata. 
  • Easy-to-use apps make dating simple and accessible. This is particularly noteworthy for LGBT singles, single parents, and those over 55, who have turned to online platforms to find love in record numbers. 
  • The financial success of digital dating is a testament to its effectiveness. If users were disappointed by outcomes, they would leave the platforms.  

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The Research

The Research

Dating in the digital age

June 19, 2015

Eric Klinenberg discusses dating in the digital age and the best way to find love online.

Love On The Run: The Next Revolution In Online Dating

Jeff Bercovici
February 14, 2014

“It was, of course, inevitable that the activities involved in online dating would migrate from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices.”

How technology has changed romance

Breeanna Hare
February 12, 2013

“In the digital age, technology isn't killing courtship. But for many young couples, it's redefining what romance looks like.”

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