Whether people are for or against the relatively recent phenomenon of online dating, it’s no secret that these days, almost half of relationships in the U.S now start online. Even as recently as ten years ago, people would have raised eyebrows at their friends who were willing to admit that they’d met their current love interest via a website or app but, nowadays, doing so is pretty much the done thing, especially among young people.
While it should come as no surprise to anyone these days that technology is an integral part of navigating the choppy waters of romance in 2018, something that people may neglect to consider is how these new technologies have diversified the dating scene, unlocking it to people who were previously shut out of mainstream methods of courtship. By this, we mean that, while technology has been co-opted by all elements of society to enhance love lives, it has also played a significant role in allowing minorities to have unfettered access to the dating scene in cities and towns across the globe.
As well as the well-documented role that digital platforms have played in allowing LGBT+ individuals to freely explore their romantic endeavours, it has also made it easier than ever for immigrant communities and people of various ethnic, social and religious backgrounds to take part in the dating scene and have lively and fulfilling love lives in ways that they previously were not able to. With this in mind, let’s take a look at just how the amazing technological strides in the field of professional romance have diversified dating to an unprecedented level, to the benefit of everyone.
Knowledge & Awareness
This is probably one of the most understated impacts of how technology has made the game of dating a more diverse and accessible one. There is no shortage of personal experiences of sexual minorities or people who felt like they were the only person like themselves in their city, whose eyes were opened to the existence of vast numbers of people who suit their background, interests and compatibility right on their doorstep, sometimes even living in the same building. With the advent of social media and the proliferation of dating apps and platforms that allow you within a single click to be able to observe an entire world of people who have lived through the exact same experiences as you and have the same preferences and interests, singles who may recently have felt isolated and lacking options can now easily see that this is most definitely not the case.
In addition, people who both do and don’t belong to certain minorities have, in recent years, been exposed to a flood of information across a variety of sites and platforms, which has helped expose them to a hugely diverse world of dating possibilities, and has gone a long way in helping all of us to break free from our respective bubbles. The huge proliferation of the use of technology for signposting events in cities across the globe which offer the opportunity to meet similar and like-minded people has also had an undeniable impact, as this kind of digital signposting, as well as the use of algorithms to target certain users, has meant that people of all demographics have become aware of the existence of communities near them that may have gone completely unnoticed, had the event in question just been pinned to a notice board in a local community centre.
This is one thing that was briefly touched on in the above section but can be applied more widely. With the uninterrupted flow of information and technology having reached new heights, a major upside of that is the fact that society, in general, is exposed to communities, viewpoints, lifestyles and attitudes that they would otherwise not have been. This has happened on a global level, and the impact that this has had on normalizing unconventional dating habits and sexual identities cannot be overstated. Even looking at how mass-streaming platforms such as Netflix have done so much to normalize and positively present LGBT+ relationships and dating through hugely popular shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race, Orange is The New Black, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, is a really straightforward way to see what a positive impact technology has had.
On top of this, the canny ability that social media has had to bring certain cultures and identities firmly into the mainstream in a rapidly short period of time is also something to be celebrated. Technology has helped facilitate a shift in attitudes in wider society, fostering a more tolerant and inclusive atmosphere, which, in turn, has allowed diverse groups of people to feel confident and comfortable in pursuing romantic interests without fear of discrimination or lack of understanding for those around them.
Unlimited Access to People
This is a pretty clear one. One of the most obvious ways tech has helped diversify dating is that it’s easier than ever before to actually secure a date, meaning that more people than ever are using digital dating platforms. Even in hugely diverse cities like New York, navigating the dating scene to find suitable partners as a minority has historically been a serious challenge. However, popular dating apps like Badoo have meant that all of New York’s beautiful diversity is accessible on a single screen, whatever the preference of the user.
The unlimited access to other human beings brought about by the proliferation of dating apps has allowed people to see that they are not alone and that, no matter who you are, there is always going to be an almost unlimited amount of romantic choices for you. It’s also meant that people who have certain dating preferences or requirements can feel confident that they can have a varied dating life just like anyone else, and that they aren’t in danger of running out of people and losing their chance at love forever. Of all of the advantages brought on by the digitisation of dating, this is probably the most beneficial.
Who doesn’t love a heartwarming tale of a couple who have conducted a loving relationship via Skype from different continents, to eventually meet each other for the first time in an airport arrivals hall? Brings a tear to the eye every time. A key take away from the increasing commonality of these stories, however, is that it is now possible to pursue romance from opposite sides of the world, in ways that simply were not possible in the past.
The fact that someone from France can conduct an exciting and meaningful relationship with somebody living in South Africa is a beautiful thing and has allowed the dating market to become truly global in every sense of the word. Technology has broken down the previously insurmountable barriers to romance presented in the form of borders, visas, flight costs and cultural gaps, thanks to instant and free communication via platforms that are increasingly user-friendly and accessible.
While, in the olden days, you would either have to pay soul-destroying fees for a long-distance phone call to the person you’re dating, or even send a letter and wait weeks for a reply, you can now have a love interest from anywhere in the world pop-up instantly and affordably on your screen, any time of day. This globalisation of dating has also meant that the idea of beginning a love affair with someone who lives nowhere near you is nowhere near as unpalatable and impractical as it once was. The result has been a tangible diversification of the dating scene, given that the entire planet now constitutes your average person’s romantic options.
Accessibility for Disabled Daters
Technology has improved the lives of those with physical and mental disabilities in ways that are far too numerous to count. From devices that improve sight, hearing and mobility, to platforms that allow disabled people to communicate, learn and exercise in easier ways than ever, the impact of technology on those with certain disabilities is a well-known and hugely uplifting development. One thing that doesn’t get as much attention, however, is the ways in which technology has allowed people with various accessibility issues to enter the dating market and pursue romance in the same way that more able-bodied people can.
While the factors mentioned earlier in the piece have firstly encouraged a greater flood of disabled people into the online dating scene, there are also breakthroughs which have made the actual task of dating more accessible. There are apps which guide blind people through the city, apps which allow people with speech disorders to communicate, apps which allow people with mental disabilities such as autism to remain calm in social situations, and apps which allow you to call for assistance wherever you are, to name just a small few.
All of this has meant that disabled people are not only able to live more independently and, therefore, pursue their own romantic relationships with greater ease, but also be introduced to people who may share the same experiences as them, which is always a vital thing to look for in a partner.
If you have any positive experiences you would like to share about how technology has improved your love life, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.