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Rise of a technosexual dating era

Is technosexuality changing the way we see relationships and love?

Technosexuality refers to individuals expressing their sexuality through technological means and media. Technosexuality also branches into the inexplicable love an individual feels towards technology, often preferring technologically-aided relationships or relationships with the technology itself. The Tinders, Plenty of Fish, Happns, and now, Facebooks of the world assist the unprecedented rise of a technosexual era which enables users to connect in a sexual and highly superficial way.

Swiping right, liking, following, and other such gestures have transcended into becoming the new flirty smile across the bar, slipping your number to that girl you like or anxiously waiting for a call. Instant gratification is the highest valued commodity and these apps excel at this very feature. The technosexual era may be liberating in some aspects, but it brings a plethora of negative implications for society. We explore these very implications in this article.

Mental and Physical Health

The technosexual era has created an unattainable image of the perfect individual that users keep swiping left in search of. A study was conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2016 that indicated individuals that participate in online dating have a lower self-esteem and are more likely to be not sufficiently satiated with their own looks. Researchers at Brigham Young University found certain characteristics that indicate depression amongst people who depend overtly on technology for meaningful relationships. On top of maintaining social and physical appearances IRL, the pressure of having the ‘perfect’ display picture and bio description can send individuals into a frenzy.

The constant social pressure is amplified by the technosexual era’s dating apps that need individuals to maintain a perfect front.

Physical health is also being constantly threatened and compromised in the technosexual era. The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV has uncovered an increase in the occurrences of sexually transmitted diseases after the release of apps like Tinder and Grindr. A study by Kesley in 2015 reveals evidence that signifies a 33% increase in gonorrhoea and 19% elevation in syphilis.

Dating apps have seen an unprecedented growth since their inception, this growth coincides with the rise of STIs and STDs as well.

The health issues are of massive concern to the age group of 15-24 which, not coincidentally, is the biggest demographic on dating sites propagating the hookup culture. This age group represents 81% of the reported chlamydia cases according to the Department of Health in the year of 2014.

End of ‘Mixed Attractiveness Dating’?

Assortative Mating pattern, or “a form of sexual selection in which individuals with similar genotypes and/or phenotypes mate with each other more often”, is pretty prevalent. Mixed attractiveness dating is the rather offensive term coined up for the scenario where one partner is better looking than the other.

The technosexual dating area eliminates the randomness of dating and makes it transactional and superficial.

Despite the former, randomness prevails in our world and we end up with mixed attractiveness couples, who are incredulously happy. This is because knowing the person for a prolonged period of time before dating manifests a higher possibility of attraction that is based beyond looks alone and delves into the nuances of the individual’s personality, according to a study taken up by the online journal Psychological Science. The technosexual dating apps eliminate this wonderful peculiarity and downgrade dating to the brass tacks – the looks and “love at first lust”. This spells doom for mixed attractiveness dating and simplifies a process, which is inherently not supposed to be simple.

Relationships are being gamified and sexualised

As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote for the Guardian, “In our technosexual era, the process of dating has not only been gamified but also sexualised, by technology”. The chase for the perfect man/woman is endless, because how can you be truly satisfied when there are more options to swipe through and the possibility of finding that perfect puzzle piece to fit you still exists. Eventually, people become addicted to the thrill of seeking out multiple partners. Polygamy and cheating have become incredibly common in our technosexual generation.

Match after match can be attained on Tinder and other apps, transforming dating into a numbers game.

The apps have also overly sexualised dating, where hookups seem like conquests and you’re in a race to have the highest number of sexual partners.
Troy Ertelt, a psychologist, believes that apps like Tinder are a lot like a slot machine, hooking users through positive reinforcement which discourages them from ever quitting. The hookup apps start metamorphosing and often becomes more arousing than the actual hookup itself. Ertelt says, “You’re continually presented with new simulation, and once you’re on a date, it might not be consistently reinforcing”.

Troy Ertelt, a psychologist, believes that apps like Tinder are a lot like a slot machine, hooking users through positive reinforcement which discourages them from ever quitting. The hookup apps start metamorphosing and often becomes more arousing than the actual hookup itself. Ertelt says, “You’re continually presented with new simulation, and once you’re on a date, it might not be consistently reinforcing”.

Fantasy becomes better than reality

When was the last time you put up an au naturel picture on a dating site or social media? An individual’s looks and personality go through an aggressive filtering process in our technosexual era. According to Smith and Anderson (2016), 81% users on dating platforms have confirmed to having lied about their weight, height and more. The best angle, best clothes, face-beautifying filters and a fake social media persona are common to make sure you display the best and not-so-true-to-life version of you. The real personality and true appearance surface when you meet the person IRL. Which may lead to disappointment on your partner’s end and in turn lower your self-esteem. Vicious cycle, isn’t it?

Dating apps instil the idea amongst its users of a perfect man/woman being out there somewhere, leading to the incessant chase.

Berger and Luckmann in 1966 extended a theory that stated, it is not the technology that shapes human actions, but human actions that shape technology. The dating app phenomenon aligns with this study. The technosexual era’s dating apps create an impossible fantasy based on societal expectations, that is being perpetually chased, which makes fantasy seem more appealing than reality.

People in the technosexual era get wrapped up in the exhilaration of dating online. Endless possibilities, the idea of a perfect match and the addiction of swiping left or right, sometimes cloud the judgement of even the sanest among us. Additionally, the world of online dating has sexual predators lurking in every corner. Catfishes are yet another epidemic plague in this world, who rob us of our emotions, and sometimes even our money.

The future of dating apps, despite these negative implications, looks promising with 50 million Tinder users as of 2014. With the tech-giant, Facebook getting into this space, dating sites and apps will most definitely see a massive surge with its gargantuan 2.1 billion population. The technosexual era is just getting started. Attempts must be made to prevent sexual offenders from accessing these dating sites. Another approach that could help the addiction and frenzy created by these apps in users, is setting a time or swipe limit. Technosexuality can be liberating for the individuals facing leisure time restrictions due to the dynamic workings of our world and can even help introverts get out there, but their implications can be catastrophic to the users’ sanity and security as well. The future could be drastically safer or scarier depending on the approach the new age sites and we ourselves take. The possibilities, as we can gauge, are endless.

Dhriti Datta

Dhriti Datta

Reader, thinker, writer. Dhriti spends most of her time engrossed in technology reviews and gaming walkthroughs. When not at her post-graduation college studying journalism, she can be found eating, singing out loud and whining incessantly about the smallest things.