Age of digital hookups
For many of us, dating is perhaps the most *nuanced stage leading to a serious romantic relationship. A date can be a dinner in a fancy restaurant, watching a movie together, or going on a day trip out of town. It’s a time filled with excitement, uncertainties and that feeling of numerous butterflies *fluttering around in one’s stomach.
In Western countries however, the rise of the “*hookup culture” among young people has changed the definition of dating completely.
In the hookup culture, two people simply meet up for casual relationships. Numerous dating apps enable people to find their potential partners with just a *swipe of finger. Tinder is one of the most popular of these apps.
A 2015 study published by Vanity Fair reported that out of the nearly 100 million people using mobile dating apps in the US, 50 million are on Tinder. Instead of a detailed profile, all the app requires is a photo. If someone likes your photo and you also like theirs, the two of you can go on “a date”. But don’t expect anything elaborate and fancy. In most cases, a date is just a drink around the corner for two strangers to check out one another, and then they may soon get intimate.
Hookup culture is all about instant *gratification. That’s why a recent Vanity Fair article observed that dating apps have *ushered in “the dawn of the Dating *Apocalypse”.
Balance of power
*Flicking through profiles or photos and choosing one’s “matches” on dating apps is not unlike online shopping, Vanity Fair says. It may be a useful tool for those who want to delay marriage and family for the sake of a career promotion.
For some, choosing to have casual relationships can even give them a sense of *liberation and *empowerment. “I’m in a relationship now, but I find my life is more exciting when I’m single. You get ready to go out, and the night is full of possibilities,” one commenter wrote on Teen Vogue.
But many people argue that the hookup culture is not really good for women. As Emily Esfahani Smith points out in an Atlantic article: “the balance of power in hookup culture lies with men” and women don’t actually have a choice.
David Buss, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas in the US, echoes this viewpoint in an interview with Vanity Fair. Dating apps like Tinder “give people the impression that there are thousands or millions of potential mates out there,” says Buss.
“When there is a surplus of women, or a perceived surplus of women, the whole mating system tends to shift towards short-term dating. Men don’t have to commit, so they pursue a short-term mating strategy. Men are making that shift, and women are forced to go along with it in order to mate at all,” he added.
In the old days, men had to *woo women with flowers, poetry, and a lot of attention. But today, with so many choices *purveyed by dating apps, many women feel they are being *devalued. As Erica Gordon wrote on youth website Elite Daily: “It’s rare for a woman of our generation to meet a man who treats her like a priority instead of an option.”
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