WORDS: Lynna Suy               GRAPHICS: Emma Patterson               VIDEO: Hannah Croft

Walking into the Julian A. McPhee University Union a decade ago, you’d find most Cal Poly students socializing or studying. Fast forward to today and walking into the UU, you’ll still find students studying with their books and laptops — but socializing happens on a whole different level. Instead of speaking to each other, communication has evolved with technology, ushering in more finger-to-phone typing than face-to-face talking. This not only changes the way people interact with each other, but it is shaking the grounds of how dating works in this day and age.

College students are using their phones to surf the web and play games, but also to check up on their friends over Facebook and flirt via text message. Apps like Tinder, Lulu and Snapchat are popular because they allow people to meet others around their area and flirt without having to worry about in-person rejection.

It’s easy and convenient to find potential partners on a cell phone, but most college students consider apps such as Tinder notorious for only hooking up.

Biomedical engineering sophomore Tim En uses a dating app called Jack’d, which is similar to Tinder but is specifically for homosexual men.

“There is a ‘Who Viewed You’ feature that allows you to see who has checked you out,” En said. “That is what makes the app so superficial. You judge the guys based on their looks. I am a guy that really wants to get to know the person, and I want them to know I am genuine, and I like them to think I am a great guy. Being cute is just a bonus.”

After using the app to meet up with several men who only wanted to hook up, En realized his chances of meeting a potential boyfriend were highly unlikely.

“I made a lot of mistakes, and this app has probably made me depressed, but I can only learn from this experience,” En said. “Mr. Right will come one day, and I’ll just focus on myself until then.”

Although many people become discouraged by the idea of hookups, hooking up is actually becoming more common on college campuses. According to the New York Times article “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too,” Kate Taylor describes hookup culture as a casual instance in college for students who don’t want to be burdened emotionally or financially. The article emphasizes the greater need for students to be independent while they’re still young, rather than finding someone to “settle down” with. Hooking up includes anything from kissing to oral sex to intercourse, and is prevalent on college campuses, including Cal Poly.

“Hookup culture is the idea that you don’t need to have a long-lasting relationship,” Safer coordinator Christina Kaviani said. “It’s really about not being vulnerable to the emotional experience or being intimate. It’s putting an emphasis on the sexual satisfaction piece.”

But Kaviani said there could be another reason why students choose to engage in the hookup culture.

“A lot of the students that come here, I can see that they have really low self-esteem,” Kaviani said. “Their behaviors become strange because of that, because people are not feeling like they can speak up or say what they want or feel.”

But students don’t just use their phones for hookups. Technology can also have a place in long-term relationships. Many college students communicate with their peers digitally on a daily basis.

“People are having serious conversations via text, and you can’t read the tone or you can’t see their face,” Kaviani said. “I think it leads to unhealthy way of (discussing) conflicts or communication, when you’re trying to do it all via text.”

Despite the negativity surrounding relationships and technology, art and design senior Keiko Tanaka hopes technology will actually help maintain her relationship with her boyfriend after they graduate.

“It’s scary,” Tanaka said. “We have done short (term) long-distance relationships, like during the summer time, and it never turned out well. We do realize how much we need each other. In the beginning, we put in so much effort to stay connected, but of course we get busy and we can’t keep up with it.”

Tanaka said even if she has to move back to Japan after graduating, she and her boyfriend will try to communicate as much as they can over video chats and Facebook. She believes having a long-distance relationship without the convenience of communication through technology would be difficult.


What adjectives would you use to describe dating today?

 

Although communication is important to have in a relationship, communicating only through technology troubles art and design senior Jacquelyn Lui.

“I don’t think you need to use any of these things,” Lui said. “There’s so many people around you, someone will eventually come along. I am willing to wait for the right person to come along, rather than go look for them over something like Tinder.”

Dating rules also seem to have morphed with the aid of technology. People are choosing to scope out potential partners through social networking sites before getting to know them in person.

Kaviani considers it unhealthy to communicate centrally through text messages. People tend to overanalyze text messages because it’s difficult to accurately interpret the sender’s intent.

“I think it can lead to a lot of obsessive behaviors in a relationship, that you’re constantly needed to be in contact with them,” Kaviani said. “I think it’s problematic. Communication via text is always problematic.”

Whether it’s simply passing information or flirting through a screen, technology is changing how people live. Meeting and falling in love with someone by chance in a coffee shop is beginning to sound more and more like a fairy tale.