Dating in the modern world doesn’t quite resemble the traditional view of dating. It’s much more casual. The word “date” is rarely even used today. Younger people especially opt to use the harmless “let’s hang out” in place of the word “date.” That’s because “date” has obvious romantic implications, while “let’s hang out” is far less committal. One popular service called Grouper, a casual group-dating site, is cashing in on this social phenomenon.
Groupers Join for a Date — Er, a Grouper Casual Hang Out
Grouper works by connecting groups of singles using social media. They sign up using their Facebook accounts and recruit their friends to form a group. That group is then matched with another group of like-minded individuals. $20 later, they meet. That $20 serves as a deposit to ensure they both show up. It also covers the first round of drinks. And that’s it — two groups of friends are on a casual, yet hopeful, first date. Or rather, first “hang out.”
NPR recently followed a “Grouper,” a group of 3 friends meeting another group of 3 for a night on the town. The radio station documented everything from people’s expectations of their dates to the their reflections on the event.
“I hope they’re good looking and I hope they’re not ‘acnefied’ and sweaty,” remarked one of the women.
Her comment brings up one of the biggest draw backs of online dating: Pictures only go so far. With the ease of photo manipulation within this millennial generation of “y2kers” and “hashtaggers”, a little reserved judgement is expected. It’s also safer. After all, you never know if your e-date is really a scammer in disguise.
But the intertwined nature of social media within Grouper represents a sea change between traditional dating and the new casual approach taken by today’s younger generations. It’s not to say that every burgeoning relationship these days uses this approach, but “hanging out” is more and more common among fledgling romances.
Let’s Take This Grouper Date to Instagram
The Groupers use Instagram, a popular photo-sharing social network, throughout the event. It’s another way smartphones and mobile internet is changing the way people date.
“A Groupergram is when you and your Grouper groupies take a photo and you post it on Instagram. But the best Grouper photo of the night gets a free round of drinks,” one of the women told NPR.
It’s simple, and perhaps ingenious. The Groupergram is instant advertising for Grouper, and an instant bonding experience for the six people on the date … This is modern non-dating. If you can’t like it, tweet it, share it or use a hashtag, it’s just a tree falling in the woods by itself.”
NPR’s examination reveals telling information about the change dating has undergone since the advent of the internet. People are drawn to Grouper because of the promise of a casual date disguised as a fun time “hanging out.”
The entire event is encouraged to be documented on Instagram, which in turn generates buzz for Grouper. It’s an intelligent approach to cashing in on the casual dating phenomenon.
It’s interesting to contrast Grouper to another social media dating phenomenon, the fake online girlfriend or boyfriend. Essentially, someone pays a stranger to pretend to be their girlfriend or boyfriend. The stranger interacts with the buyer on Facebook and other social media, leaving “likes” and flirtatious comments on their timeline. The point? Run your real squeeze up the wall with jealousy.
Grouper tries to relieve the pressure of a “real” date by transforming courtship into a night out with your friends, while your crush who’s “in a relationship” on Facebook might be faking it just to get your attention. One wonders what Shakespeare would do with Romeo and Juliet in the age of hashtags.
Social media is playing an increasingly greater role in our lives, especially dating. It seems that Mark Zuckerberg’s goal in Social Network about Facebook telling the world who’s in a relationship is certainly coming true.
What do you think?
What are you thoughts on the ever changing world of dating? Have you tried services like Grouper or one of the many other online dating service? Let us know in the comments section!