Why Gen-Z wants to get off dating apps

Have the apps lost lustre?

By Sam Jabri-Pickett

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Published: Thu 27 Jun 2024, 7:05 PM

Last updated: Sat 29 Jun 2024, 9:42 AM

It’s time to ditch the dating apps.

Tinder, Bumble and the rest rose to prominence for their appeal. Directly targeting millennials and younger generations, the apps represented how easy it was to get what you wanted and how you wanted it through the revolutionary power of the Internet.

For digital natives like Gen-Z, it should have been simple to make the jump, and 10 years ago, elder Gen-Zs like myself were on the apps as soon as we were out of secondary school and wading into the mire of adulthood. Like many of my generation, however, the apps lost their lustre, amidst an increasing feeling that whatever algorithm runs these apps is more concerned with keeping us swiping then delivering whatever it is we are looking for.

It’s important to remember that the dating apps did not grow in a vacuum, but with the rise of social media and the decline of the first generation of dating websites like Ok Cupid, Match, and Plenty of Fish, tech developers and entrepreneurs inserted themselves where they were not needed. With the rise of these apps came the decline of other once vital parts of daily life, from the disappearance of the third place — home is the first, work is the second — to people forgetting how to flirt or how fun it can be to set up your friends.

But why have these apps declined, and what is Gen-Z not finding that others have? Though there is little doubt that the apps have become methods of stealing our data, there is also that tried-and-true explanation for all things Gen-Z: we don’t use something we don’t get use out of.

In simpler terms, I was on the apps to find my person. Soulmate, life partner, whatever you want to call it. I did not find that on the apps, and I have been happier off them. It is one pitfall of most Gen-X and millennial thought, that technology can solve all our problems. Gen-Z does not believe that.

Far from it, in fact, with Morning Consult research from last year finding that Gen-Z trust in technology companies is growing, especially with brands that appear to spend more time on marketing than improving their product. Only 43 per cent of Gen-Z adults surveyed said they trust major tech companies to do what is right “a lot” or “some” of the time. In contrast, Gen-X and Baby Boomers expressed more trust than distrust, 52 and 53 per cent, respectively.

Gen-Z’s trust in the apps is even lower, according to findings from Axios and Generation Lab. “Seventy-nine per cent of university students and others [Gen-Z] are forgoing regular dating app usage,” with dating app giant Bumble facing major backlash last year after running ads targeting women with an anti-celibacy message to encourage the app’s usage.

Others have already described Bumble and chief rival Tinder as a wasteland of bots and scammers, tired of being told to blame the algorithm or that they are foolish for pursuing anything at all. One local man describes “toxic behaviours and materialistic motives” in a woman who both lied about her age and appearance and misrepresented her reasons for dating. “She expressed disappointment upon learning I did not own a house — a high expectation for someone at the age of 22.”

All that being the case, it’s time to ditch the dating apps. Get a hobby, go have fun with a big group of friends, and don’t worry about being scammed.



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