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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 21: Mobile Dating and Hookup App Culture (Stefanie Duguay / Jean Burgess / Ben Light)

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CHAPTER 21

Mobile Dating and Hookup App Culture

Stefanie Duguay, Jean Burgess and Ben Light

Introduction

On August 31, 2015, Vanity Fair ran an article titled “Tinder and the dawn of the ‘dating apocalypse’” (Sales, 2015a). Focusing on the popular hookup app Tinder as the first of its kind to corner the mainstream heterosexual market, the article painted a dystopian picture of digitally mediated dating. Its author, Nancy Jo Sales, declared, “Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about one hundred years, has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship.” Like other news articles perpetuating media-related moral panics—“media panics” (Drotner, 1999)—about hookup apps, Sales implies that technological change is sudden, dramatic, and a direct one-way cause of (usually negative or troubling) social transformations. The picture painted by the article is a simplistic and stereotypical one in which Tinder has enabled men to have as much sex as they like with “no strings attached,” leaving women dissatisfied with not finding romance and love through the app. Such framings are common in mainstream media reporting on dating technologies. Headlines such as, “Tinder and hookup apps blamed for rise in STDs” (Goldman, 2015) proliferated in response to a report linking hookup apps to activity that could lead to a higher risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or infections (STIs).

With the popular media heralding disease...

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