Widespread alienation and internet usage created conditions ripe for the online dating industry to flourish. If you have ever tried to find intimacy online, chances are that you used a dating app owned by either Match Group, Inc. or Spark Networks SE. While the vast majority belong to one of these two massive corporations, different dating apps serve different purposes which often overlap with each other. Tinder is a popular choice for hookups, due to the relatively small section to write a bio (who needs to get to know their one-night-stand anyway?) and the interface, which involves swiping left or right to match with the other person or not. Apps such as OKCupid and Hinge are geared toward those looking for more serious relationships, featuring more space for a detailed bio and profile settings to convey to other users what types of connections you are seeking. Many more niche dating apps exist for sexual minorities, religious groups, etc. such as Grindr or Christian Mingle. No matter your identity or desired type of relationship, plenty of companies compete to capitalize on your loneliness as you flit from one app to the next, in perpetual hope of finally finding what you are looking for.
Technology-assisted dating is nothing new. In 1959, two students at Stanford University created a “Marriage Planning Service” using a questionnaire and an IBM 650 to match 49 men with 49 women. Other similar services were created throughout the early 1960s, often at universities. With the sexual revolution and as attitudes became more liberal and open, the New York Review of Books published the first personal ad in 1968. In the publication’s personals column, contributors would submit a description of themselves and what they were looking for. Keeping with the rich tradition of print media openly advertising human beings, one of the oldest “mail-order bride” agencies, the Cherry Blossoms catalog, launched in 1974. It began as a catalog with photos and descriptions of Asian women advertised to be married off to Western men, and Cherry Blossoms still operates today as a website. Various dating services using the latest technology were developed in subsequent years. While glasnost and perestroika were eviscerating the Soviet Union, the mail-order bride service Scanna International set up an office in Vladivostok in 1989; by 1995, 95% of the women featured by Scanna were either Russian or Ukrainian. The stereotype of the Russian mail-order bride persists in the West to this day, mocking the women of the former Soviet Union who, after neoliberal economic shock therapy stole their jobs and livelihoods away, faced little choice but to sell themselves off to Western men.
After the Internet became available to average Americans, technology-assisted dating took on new forms. In 1995, Match.com was launched as the first dating website. This later became Match Group, Inc., now the largest multinational online dating corporation, owning over 25 dating sites. Over the following decades, the online dating industry continued to expand but also consolidated into a handful of conglomerates: mainly, Match Group and Spark Networks. In the 2010s, dating websites developed smartphone apps, tapping into the rapidly-expanding market. This ushered in a lasting trend of most couples having met online, and one that accelerated in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, as millions of Americans were trapped at home, suffering social isolation and increasingly reliant on the internet for everyday life, Match Group reported growing revenues and profits. In February of 2021, Match Group acquired Seoul-based social media company Hyperconnect in its largest acquisition to date. In the same month, the dating behemoth sued a Muslim dating app Muzmatch for “being a Tinder clone” and unsurprisingly won the case a year later.
After Russia began its special military operation in Ukraine, various multinational companies pulled out of the Russian market. Match Group, however, did not join this corporate exodus. Research from Yale published in late April of 2022 placed Match Group in the worst category of “Digging In” and “Defying Demands for Exit.” Why did it not join the rest of the “international community” in “efforts to help Ukraine”? To answer this question, it is important to understand both the purpose of dating apps and their effects on users.
As depicted in the graph above, which shows data up to the year 2017, there has been a sharp upward trend in heterosexual couples meeting online since the 1990s. Opportunities to meet someone offline, or “IRL,” are disappearing as social bonds between people are constantly broken, replaced by the algorithms of various apps and websites. This effect on social bonds has exacerbated what some Feminist theorists have labeled the “brothel model” of heterosexuality, in which relations between men and women have shifted away from heterosexual desire and towards a model of sexuality which more resembles commercial “desire.” Heterosexual desire traditionally leads to marriage, parenthood, and the formation of households. With the decline of home ownership and falling birth rates in the West, heterosexual desire has become nearly obsolete as a means of controlling women’s reproductive labor. Relations between men and women have increasingly become purely transactional, while women are more often subjected to sexual extortion in the form of pimping and pornographic filming. In this context, dating apps essentially function as an UberEats for sex, allowing people to swipe through multiple profiles and choose whomever they want for potential use as a personal sex toy. Or, in the case of creating online pornography, to choose a woman to be used as a source of profit from e-pimping agencies. The man acting as an e-pimp can easily discard those women who are no longer profitable and scour Tinder for his next victim.
As is evident from the meteoric rise of the e-prostitution pyramid scheme known as OnlyFans during the pandemic, many men see their female partners as sources of sexual capital, while many women have come to believe that it’s empowering to sell their most intimate parts online, often for a pittance that couldn’t buy them a carton of eggs. Liberal “feminism” encourages young women to embrace hookup culture, dangerous and extreme fetishes, objectify themselves and accept sexual violence and extortion, all in the name of “sex positivity.” The ideology lures a young woman into the trap of performing degrading sex acts on camera in hopes that she (or her male partner) might get a few dollars every now and then. Men learn to appraise women as subhuman sources of profit, and women start viewing men as inherently dangerous – thus keeping the two halves of the working class divided as the CEOs of porn websites and dating apps laugh at us from their mansions.
Can a man truly be revolutionary if he is pimping out his girlfriend online? Can a woman truly be revolutionary if she accepts a view of herself as an object of sexual violence? Hell no! Revolutionary men and women must instead set the example for others, especially for those of their own sex. Engaging in hookups and consuming pornography dissipates your energy and weakens your spirit, distracting you from pursuing meaningful relationships, let alone revolutionary activity. It is a much more productive and healthy use of one’s time and energy to remain single and celibate for a while, falling in love with someone when the time is right and entering a committed, monogamous relationship. Monogamy allows couples to focus on maintaining a healthy relationship and giving each other the love that they deserve, providing them energy to live a fulfilling life by pursuing their intellectual, artistic, or revolutionary goals. Dating app companies depend on you not finding lasting romantic relationships so that you remain a heavy user, engaged in a cycle of algorithmic gambling and meaningless hookups in hopes that maybe, one day, you might find a cure to your loneliness. Celibacy and monogamy are not profitable for the Tinders and Grindrs of the world, and neither is socialism.