Wired Magazine, your prediction from 2002 is right.
“Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because ‘the right books are found only by accident,” wrote Rufus Griscom.
In the early 2000s, it was all about the online dating sites – a time we held more tightly onto divine chance encounters and needed to warm up to the idea that finding love online isn’t weird and is possible.
Come the 2010s, apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge exploded.
And here we are. 2021. As for Gen Zs? To the generation who grew up in a digital world, it’s completely normal. But finding lovers extends much beyond swiping left and right.
1 in 4 Gen Zs told us they’ve entered a romantic relationship with someone they met online. Romance does matter, as our latest Wellbeing Check 2021 report shows that 29% of young people feel that being single negatively impacts their wellbeing.
So what’s it like finding love online for young people today?
Interestingly, only 8% was through dating apps while 21% was through social media. Less and less it’s “what’s your number?”, and more and more it’s “what’s your handle?”.
You might’ve heard about sliding into DMs. Well you should know that making moves and getting to know someone on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok is more nuanced than that.
They can ‘say a lot’ by commenting, liking, reacting and even just ‘viewing’ their crush’s post on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat.
They can exchange flirtatious selfies that can only be seen for 24 hours.
Then there’s the message itself where Internet slang, emojis, GIFs, memes and stickers are loaded with meaning that only such Extremely Online people can decode. See: eggplant emoji.
And oh, the world of choices out there. That’s exciting. But also, who’s got the best photos and pick-up lines to stand out from the crowd? The pressure!
And oh, the fun and games and confusion. “She liked my post but didn’t respond to my DM! What does that mean?!”
And oh, the harsh reality of being catfished or ghosted. Tricked by fake identities or cut off from communication without any explanation.
But it’s all worth it. It’s life. It’s second nature.
As this 17-year-old female from NSW said: “I have met a partner and many friends through social media and the connections are truly strong.”