On Valentine's Day, tech, and the democratization of intimacy

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve started thinking a lot about how technology (and esp. technology in the hands of us millennials) has changed the landscape of this Hallmark holiday.

Before, it felt as if Valentine’s Day was the polarizing force between two somewhat rival camps: those in relationships & those not (thus the trite “Happy Singles’ Awareness Day” tweets & Facebook statuses, etc.) However, on this 14th of February in 2014, we have a combination of things that we have not had in the past; and therefore the tension between the camps is diffused a bit as those in search for companionship on this former ‘couples only’ day can now find what they are searching for.

The combination to which I am referring is 1) Tinder, and 2) the formerly slow but now strong acceptance of the usage of such ‘dating’ apps. Don’t get me wrong, I know that Tinder existed this time last year, but I found that my peers still avoided talking about their Tinder’ings. Now, people openly profess that they are “so excited to go meet Tinder Bob” or sit at the bar telling the bartender that they are “just waiting for my Tinder date.” Sure, not everyone is as open, but there has definitely been a shift towards acceptance of usage of this app, that is part of the larger ‘epidemic’ (for lack of a better term, apologies for the snark) that is online dating. (I bite my tongue slightly here as I may get backlash for this if I do ultimately end up marrying someone from OKCupid or Match.com, Buddha forbid).

I will admit to dabbling in the Tinder-ness here and there, but never taking it too seriously.  Yet, I was still very taken aback when asked by a friend, “So, do you have a Tinder date planned for Valentine’s Day?” My immediate response: “Wtf no. People do that?”

Now I realize that yes, people do do that. It’s a thing this Valentine’s Day, opening this channel up for Valentine’s Days to come. For Sochi’s sake, even Olympians are using Tinder as we speak — and oh, to be in their search radii…(think of all the right-swipes!). It is interesting to think that even just a year ago, this was a ‘holiday’ reserved for those couples ‘in love,’ or at least secure enough in their relationship to celebrate such a declaratively commitment-filled day…

image

And now, apps like Tinder and sites like Grouper have, essentially, democratized ‘intimacy.’* A year ago we thought Tinder was crazy…yet look where we are now. Where will this date/intimacy-tech space take us next?

* Intimacy in quotes to build in wiggle room for our generation’s wide spectrum of interpretation of the meaning of the word.