The evolving culture of online dating
Dhia Istiqamah // Contributor
As millennials living in an ever-evolving and fast-paced lifestyle, we don’t have many opportunities to socialize and meet new people. In these technology-heavy times, meeting people online – whether romantically or not – has become a norm and online dating is no longer frowned upon.
If you have been single for at least the past six months, you may have signed up for Tinder even if it is just to check out what’s going on. But, how does online dating differ for those with a more conservative background?
From a relatively conservative Muslim background, opposite gender interactions have their boundaries. Although the parameters vary from families to individuals, most of the time, the end goal is similar – no sex before marriage. When we hit an age where we tell our parents that we are ready to marry, the hunt to find the perfect Muslim spouse begins.
In real life Muslim matrimonial platforms, we usually fill out a “resume” about ourselves and what we are looking for in a spouse. Then, the trusted community leader or mosque admin will figure out the most compatible matches based on the resumes. Of course, introductions and usually a few meetings are conducted to see if they really are a match before tying the knot. Young entrepreneur Shahzad Younas digitized the traditional Muslim matrimonial system with an app called Muzmatch.
I was amused at how similar the app works to real life platforms. I created my account purely out of curiosity, as opposed to finding a life partner. Unlike many other dating apps, Muzmatch has specific fields in the biography section about religious-related information such as whether or not you are highly practicing and how often you pray. Privacy options on this app are also a lot more advanced than expected.
Muzmatch users are able to blur out their photos to only be visible to their matches. This allows individuals to look past appearances, and at more of what matters. Some profiles have even more restrictions and only serious “candidates” paying a fee can reach out to these restricted profiles. My favourite feature of this app is the ability to leave feedback for your matches so that ‘positive’ users will receive a “Recommended Badge”. These features are clear proof that this platform is geared towards people who are looking to settle down.
When I created my first Tinder account two years ago, I dived in with no expectations. Soon enough, I settled with someone that I met through the app, for a year and a half. Fast forward two years, I resorted back to Tinder with the same amount of expectations – or should I say lack thereof. My matches still varied dramatically from those purely looking for hookups to more serious inquiries. The people I’ve met are also diverse – from a genius neurologist to a former male escort.
However, other than being able to set your distance preference and age range, Tinder exploits your profile like hot cakes. Unless stated in their bios, users will only find out what they are looking for after talking to them. Tinder also runs on very complicated algorithms that base each user on their score of “desirability.” At the end of the day, Tinder is all about “Hot or Not” and of course, the numbers game.
Many try to argue that online dating has killed romance. Through these apps, you may meet pleasant people and perhaps some who you wish you had never met, just like in real life encounters.
My Tinder-dates-gone-wrong have made many of my friends blame the app for those unpleasant experiences, while the great ones became forgotten and not taken into account.
As someone who has experienced these platforms, it is fair to say that, at least for me, it has not taken away completely the romantic side of it. It is not as instant as it sounds – there are still elimination processes, emotional rollercoasters and mind games involved. After all, it is up to you how you play it. I look at online dating as a more blatant way to speed up your process in finding a partner – whether it’s for one-night stands or a one-life stand.