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Swipe Left: Have Dating Apps Killed Romance?

Every day millions of people turn to dating apps to find love. But some argue that online dating is rife with sexism, racism, and misogyny, and that dating apps ultimately create a culture that prioritizes sex over committed and lasting love. We ask: Have dating apps killed romance?

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Overview

Every day, millions of people turn to dating apps to find love. Americans have given digital dating a try and the companies facilitating these matches are raking in billions. But are dating apps really designed to promote long-lasting romance? Apps like Tinder and Bumble make finding a date as easy as swiping right, while digital platforms like Match.com and OkCupid use specialized algorithms to help users find the perfect partner, regardless of age or personal preferences. Further, a range of niche sites connect people with highly specific interests, whether it’s single parenthood, a gluten-free lifestyle, or a devotion to Ayn Rand. But some argue that online dating is rife with sexism, racism, and misogyny, and that dating apps ultimately create a culture that prioritizes sex over committed and lasting love. After all, why settle on one match when there may be someone better just a swipe away? Arguing for the motion is Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University with Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of "Note to Self" from WNYC Studios. Arguing against the motion is Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist with Tom Jacques, the vice president of engineering at OKCupid. Keynote conversation with Daniel Jones, editor of "Modern Love" from the New York Times. John Donvan moderates. This debate was taped on February 6, 2018.

FOR:
· Match-making algorithms are grounded in a false logic that suggests a 'soulmate' can be determined by a series of characteristics and lifestyle preferences. Further, they filter away potential connections based on arbitrary metrics like hair color, height, and Facebook likes.
· Be it racist or sexist comments, coarse language generally, or unsolicited personal photos, dating apps are a breeding ground for a bad behavior that not only degrades romance but society itself.
· Apps like Tinder have made dating an exercise in excess. Why settle for one match when thousands of others are just a swipe away?
· By necessity, dating apps are designed to keep users from long-term commitments like marriage. If lasting love was the goal, the sites would go out of business.

AGAINST:
· Using targeted algorithms, dating apps help users find compatible life partners who share similar values, aspirations, and interests.
· By bringing singles from various social, economic, and geographic backgrounds together, dating apps break down barriers associated with traditional dating and foster meaningful connections across cultures and social strata.
· Easy-to-use apps make dating simple and accessible. This is particularly noteworthy for LGBT singles, single parents, and those over 55, who have turned to online platforms to find love in record numbers.
· The financial success of digital dating is a testament to its effectiveness. If users were disappointed by outcomes, they would leave the platforms.

About

John Donvan (Host and Moderator): The moderator of Intelligence Squared U.S. debates since 2008, John Donvan is an author and correspondent for ABC News. He has served as ABC’s White House Correspondent, along with postings in Moscow, London, Jerusalem, and Amman. John is the coauthor of In a Different Key: The Story of Autism (Crown, 2016). In addition to premiering his first one-man show, “Lose the Kid,” in 2013 in Washington, D.C., John is a four-time Emmy Award winner and was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2010.

Daniel Jones (Keynote Speaker) has edited the “Modern Love” column in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times since its inception in October 2004. Jones is the author of several books including Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers), The Bastard on the Couch and Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion. In addition, his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Elle, Parade, Real Simple, and Redbook, among others.

By This Expert

Eric Klinenberg (For the Motion) is a professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is a co-author of Modern Romance, which investigates the nature of dating in the digital era. Klinenberg is also the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. His scholarly work has been published in academic journals including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and Ethnography. He has contributed to numerous leading news platforms as well as the radio program, This American Life.

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Helen Fisher (Against the Motion), PhD, a biological anthropologist, is a senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, a member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University and Chief Scientific Adviser to Match.com. She uses brain scanning (fMRI) to study the neural systems associated with romantic love, attachment, and partner happiness. She has written six internationally best-selling books on courtship, romantic love, and future sex, including Why We Love; Why Him? Why Her? and Anatomy of Love. Fisher is also the co-founder of NeuroColor where she is a pioneer in examining the neurochemistry of business team-building, innovation, and leadership.

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Manoush Zomorodi (For the Motion) is the host and managing editor of Note to Self, "the tech show about being human," from WNYC Studios. She has won numerous awards for her work, including four from the New York Press Club. In 2014, the Alliance for Women in Media named her Outstanding Host. Zomorodi is author of Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self. She is a self-proclaimed relentless examiner of the modern human condition.

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Tom Jacques (Against the Motion) is vice president of engineering at OkCupid, a leading dating site that boasts more than 3.5 million users and sees over seven million messages exchanged per day. OkCupid, which relies on a dating algorithm to determine digital matches, was recently deemed the site most likely to appear in New York Times’ marriage announcements, ranking above Tinder, Match.com, and eHarmony. As a software engineer, Tom engages in data analysis designed to make dating more efficient and less time-consuming. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

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Debate: Swipe left: Have Dating Apps Killed Romance?

01: Debate: Swipe left: Have Dating Apps Killed Romance?

Every day, millions of people turn to dating apps to find love. But some argue that online dating is rife with sexism, racism, and misogyny, and that dating apps ultimately create a culture that prioritizes sex over committed and lasting love. We ask: Have dating apps killed romance? (Taped on February 6, 2018)

103 min