The Dark Side of Online Dating

Online Dating is not Free of Disadvantages Even that it has Many Advantages

Online dating has many advantages, but it also has a concerning dark side that can make some people uncomfortable.

Before the epidemic, dating apps were popular, but they exploded as a result of the forced seclusion.

Tinder, the most popular dating app on the planet, broke the record for the most swipes in a single day in March 2020, and it’s been beaten more than 100 times since then.

Despite the fact that these applications have helped many people connect with other singles for years, some daters have expressed concern about the environment they create. This is especially true for women, who face disproportionately high levels of harassment and abuse on social media platforms, mostly from heterosexual men.

“One of the most difficult aspects for me was being treated as if I were being utilized for free sex work,” Shani Silver explains. “It isn’t pleasant. It’s a pain.”

Silver, a writer and host of the dating podcast A Single Serving in New York City, has been using dating apps for a decade. “Before someone said hello, before someone revealed me their real name, I was frequently solicited for a sexual favor. For me, the majority of what was going on in that world was dismissal — a lot of dismissal, a lot of being made to feel like I didn’t matter.”

These messages are widely disseminated across media and have an impact on both men and women. Women, on the other hand, appear to be disproportionately affected. Many women are encountering some type of harassment on dating sites and apps, according to data from a 2020 Pew Research Center survey. 57 percent of female online daters aged 18 to 34 stated they had gotten sexually explicit messages or photographs they hadn’t requested. Teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 17 have also reported getting these communications. According to a 2018 Australian research of dating-platform texts, sexist abuse and harassment is disproportionately experienced by women who are targeted by straight men.

Psychological stress — and even more intense experiences – have been reported by some individuals. According to a Pew Research Center research from 2017, 36% of online daters found their interactions “very or very unpleasant.” Threats of physical danger were also reported by a large percentage of female daters aged 18 to 35 in the 2020 Pew poll – 19 percent (as compared to 9 percent of men). In addition, one study found that while cisgender heterosexual and bisexual men rarely voiced concerns about their personal safety when using dating apps, women did.

Nancy Jo Sales, a young culture writer, was so shaken by her experiences on these platforms that she authored a memoir about it called Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno.

“These things have been normalized so rapidly – things that should never be normalized, like the degree of abuse that occurs, and the risk and danger that it poses, not only physically but also emotionally,” she says, citing her own experiences. She warns that while not everyone who uses dating apps has a poor experience, there are enough of them that “we need to talk about the harm that is being done to people.”

Why are exchanges like these permitted to continue when this unsettling behavior taints women’s experience on dating apps? Part of the answer can be found in how these platforms are regulated, both by the companies that create them and by larger governmental structures. This has negative consequences for their intended consumers, and altering the situation may be difficult.

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