Wingman: a true matchmaker or another step away from a social society?
The typical love stories you mostly hear from your parents or their friends are getting distinct. Nowadays, a lot of the relationships between humans emerge via online dating, and amongst the younger generation, via dating apps such as Tinder, Happn or Grindr. Millions of millennials spend hours on their couch, the subway or on the toilet swiping left or right to find their perfect match. The Australian even called the mobile dating platforms “too hot to resist” (Ayers). Recently, another dating app entered the rapidly evolving market: Wingman. This app doesn’t require you to do the swiping and judging, but asks your friends to do it for you. Does this mean that dating is becoming even less personal? Are we giving our last bit of autonomy to technology? What does this mean for the future of dating and relationships?
Swipe for your life
Video Wingman. Source: YouTube channel Wingman App
As you can see in the video above, Wingman is a mobile dating app where not the one looking for a date gets to create the profile and swipe through the pictures of other single human beings, but where the-sick-and-tired-of-failed-dating-stories-friend gets to do all this. The app says it is designed to rescue your bored friends from all of the disastrous dating experiences you’ve had in the past years. The video is quite clear: sign your friend up, create a profile and start swiping. Sounds simple, as it probably is. Although it has the same goal as other dating apps like Tinder or Happn, the involving of friends makes Wingman a new kid on the block that is worth trying.
Friends, take the wheel
The fact that you let your friends decide on what guy or girl you’re going on a date with, may sound pretty strange. But actually, it is not. According to Harper et al. “friends play a significant role during the course of the dating relationship” (357). They explain that close friends usually talk to their friends if they do not like the person their friend is dating. La Greca and Mackey confirm this statement when they quote Furman and Buhrmester in their paper: “Close friendships represent an important aspect of adolescents’ social functioning. During adolescence, close friends surpass parents as the primary source of social support and contribute in important ways to adolescents’ self-concept and well-being” (523).
So, as it might seem a little weird to let your friends take the wheel of your online dating experiences, you have been probably letting them influence you for most of your life. Wingman obviously goes a bit further than letting your friends just “influence you”. The app gives full responsibility of finding a match to the friends of the bachelor(ette). I wonder if my friends are more successful in stimulating my dating life than I have been recently.
There is an app for that
We use apps for almost everything we do in real life, such as counting steps, talking to our friends, watch movies, and now also dating. As I pointed out earlier in this blog, the art of real life dating is nearly extinct. Couples who have met each other in a bar or on the train are a unique species that I don’t come across very often. According to a study of Rosenfeld and Thomas 15% of the American adults have engaged in online dating and out of the same sex couples, 70% even seems to have met each other through online dating (272). Online dating is still a common way to meet new people, but in recent years, adolescents are shifting to using dating apps. Tinder has over 10 million active users a day and is used primarily by 25-34 year olds (Ayers). The young adults give various reasons for downloading and using these dating apps. The three biggest reasons for the use are: they hope to find a serious relationship and love, they are looking for a quick, casual hook-up, and they feel like these kinds of apps are an easy way to make conversation (Sumter et al., 72).
The average time people spend on dating apps is 7-9 minutes per session. Most people have several swiping-sessions a day (Ward 84), which means that we spend up to an hour a day on swiping through pictures of people we don’t know. And we do all that for love. Or sex. Or conversation. Does this mean that we have become slaves of technology? Why do we feel such an urge to connect with people through a mobile device?
Welcome to the real world
My generation, the so called “millennial”, is less socially involved with life in the outside world than previous generations. “New media technologies have changed the ways young people interact with one another” (Meenagh 458). Because all of the apps we have on our phones make it so easy to communicate through this device, we become alienated from the real world and get sucked in our smartphones. This often leads to smartphone addiction, which can have negative consequences for an adolescent’s life (Bian and Leung 62). They state that adolescents who are addicted to their smartphone score higher on scales of loneliness and shyness (67). Their paper also says that smartphones “could provide a device that gives them a perfect environment to alleviate loneliness and shyness” (73). The increase of apps that replace real-life activities will contribute to more people getting addicted to their smartphones, thus evolving people into shy, socially awkward creatures.
Although Wingman sounds like a fun and new way to involve your friends in your dating life, there is a pretty good chance that it will only drive you further from participating in real life. Together with all other dating apps, Wingman can provide a fun and easy way to make contact with potential partners, but users shouldn’t lose their real life out of sight. Don’t let yourself get lost in all the apps we use to replace our daily tasks and activities.
Put your phone down and go out into the real world, meet real people, in a real café (and not in a virtual world). Go out and experience life.
Ayers, Chris. “Tinder: the app that’s setting the dating scene on fire.” The Australian, 31 May 2014, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/tablet-t3/tablet-t3/fullpic/tinder-the-app-thats-setting-the-dating-scene-on-fire/news-story/372f7dbf2bbcd2fa523d15abc2a56014. Accessed 19 September 2018.
Ward, Janelle. “Swiping, Matching, Chatting: Self-presentation and Self-Disclosure on Mobile Dating Apps”, HUMAN IT, vol. 13, no. 2, 1 January 2016, pp. 81-95, https://repub.eur.nl/pub/98151. Accessed 20 September 2018.
Wingman App. “Find a match for your single friend today!”, YouTube, 30 October 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grcQOPzHn54. Accessed 19 September 2018.
Bian, Mengwei and Louis Leung, “Linking Loneliness, Shyness, Smartphone Addiction Symptoms, and Patterns of Smartphone Use to Social Capital” Social Science Computer Review, vol. 33, no. 1, 8 April 2014, pp. 61-79, Sagepub, DOI: 10.1177/0894439314528779
Furman, Wyndol and Duane Buhrmester, “Age and Sex Differences in Perceptions of Networks of Personal Relationships” Child DevelopmentI, vol. 63, no. 1, February 1992, pp. 103-115, JStor, DOI: 10.2307/1130905
Harper, Gary W., et al. “The role of close friends in African American adolescents’ dating and sexual behaviour”, Journal of Sex Research, vol. 41, no. 4, 11 January 2010, Tand F Online, DOI: 10.1080/00224490409552242.
Hobbs, Mitchell, et al. “Liquid love? Dating apps, sex, relationships and the digital transformation of intimacy.” Journal of Sociology, vol. 53, no. 2, 2017, pp. 271-284, Sagepub, doi: 10.1177/1440783316662718.
La Greca, Annette M. And Mackey, Eleanor Race. “Adolescents’ Anxiety in Dating Situations: The Potential Role of Friends and Romantic Partners”, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, vol. 36, no. 4, 7 June 2010, pp. 522-533, Tand F Online, DOI: 10.1080/15374410701662097.
Meenagh, Joni. “Flirting, dating, and breaking up within new media environments.” Sex Education, vol. 15, no. 5, 4 June 2015, pp. 458-471, Tand F Online, DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2015.10 33516.
Rosenfeld, Michael J. and Reuben J. Thomas, “Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary”, American Sociological Review, vol. 77, no. 4, 13 Juni 2012, Sagepub, DOI: 10.1177/0003122412448050
Sumter, Sindy, et al. “Love me Tinder: Untangling emerging adults’ motivations for using the dating application Tinder.” Telematics and Informatics, vol. 34, no. 1, 30 April 2016, pp. 67-78, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/J.TELE.2016.04.009.