Where we once met people in dingy dancehalls and sticky-floored nightclubs, now millions of us look for partners on our phones. Four in 10 adults in the UK say they have used dating apps. Globally, Tinder and Grindr — the two highest-profile apps — have tens of millions of users. Glen Jankowski, a psychology lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, says: However, Troen is clear: Others are coming round to the same belief — albeit more slowly. The app is also considering the removal of options that allow users to filter potential dates by race.
Racism has long been a problem on Grindr: More than one in eight admitted they included text on their profile indicating they themselves discriminated on the basis of race. Noble is uncertain about the efficacy of drawing up a list of forbidden words.
Why is it OK for online daters to block whole ethnic groups?
While Bumble and Grindr deny using image recognition-based algorithms to suggest partners visually similar to ones that users have already expressed an interest in, many users suspect that some apps do. Crucially, no app is likely to deliberately dumb down its algorithm to produce worse matches, even if it may help prevent racist behaviour.
Bumble hopes to change user behaviour by example. Zumwalt said Grindr had carefully discussed removing the ethnicity filter, but were hesitant to get rid of it.
They also found that the least contacted groups were black women and Asian men. And as if it wasn't interesting enough, black African men were unlikely to contact black African women.
So, if black men aren't even looking at sisters in Australia based on these stats, the chances of dating within one's race by preference take a significant hit. I also met people that had specific racial preferences, and either dated only within their race or specifically sought out people of another race. The reasons varied, from unfamiliarity with certain races and cultures, to just down to what they found themselves attracted to.
Is it racist then to have a racial preference, you ask?
Surely, it's the same as preferring brunettes or tall men, right? Experts studying behaviour have found that we tend to repeat real-life behaviour of self-segregating online.
That is, for whatever reasons we don't interact with certain groups offline, we also repeat this behaviour online — even though the barriers that exist in the offline aren't there online. And it's this collective behaviour that sees repeated outcomes for certain groups that constitutes as racist behaviour. On an individual level, it may seem innocent enough. But the fact that figures suggest that certain groups are missing out because of their race means we have to look at the situation more closely.
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When we don't acknowledge racism in our communities, we can't be too surprised to see its manifestations in our dating lives, too. There is good news, though — many of the experts I spoke to for Date My Race talked about how we have been socialised to be attracted to certain groups, whether it's within our own race or outside of it.
Race and Attraction, – – The OkCupid Blog
And because it's something we learn to do, we can also unlearn whatever ideas we may have about certain groups of people. Greater representation in the media could also help reduce the bad experiences people of colour have on online dating sites. Being exposed to different experiences of people from different backgrounds through film, TV and other forms of media challenges our own biases and stereotypes we may have.
Sure, stereotypes exist for a reason, and there may be some truth to them. But they're just that: Reducing large groups of people and dismissing their individuality limits what should be an enjoyable dating experience.
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