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When the apps were new, people were excited, and actively using them.Swiping “yes” on someone didn’t inspire the same excited queasiness that asking someone out in person does, but there was a fraction of that feeling when a match or a message popped up.If you just sit on your butt and wait to see if life delivers you love, then you have no right to complain.“Other than trying to go to a ton of community events, or hanging out at bars—I’m not really big on bars—I don’t feel like there’s other stuff to necessarily do to meet people,” Hyde says.“So it’s almost like the only recourse other than just sort of sitting around waiting for luck to strike is dating apps.”But then, if you get tired of the apps, or have a bad experience on them, it creates this ambivalence—should you stop doing this thing that makes you unhappy or keep trying in the hopes it might yield something someday?“And I think it’s really hit a low point.”Whenever using a technology makes people unhappy, the question is always: Is it the technology’s fault, or is it ours?Is Twitter terrible, or is it just a platform terrible people have taken advantage of?But in the past year or so, I’ve felt the gears slowly winding down, like a toy on the dregs of its batteries.I feel less motivated to message people, I get fewer messages from others than I used to, and the exchanges I do have tend to fizzle out before they become dates. “I’m going to project a really bleak theory on you,” Fetters says.

“We have people in for focus groups all the time, and we do surveys, and since probably like 2014, it seemed like there was this sort of declining satisfaction over time in these services,” he says.

At the end of 2014, he took a road trip with his friend from Birmingham, Alabama to St. “On the way down there, I spent a lot of time on Tinder,” he says.

“Every city or every stop the entire way, I would just swipe.” He had no intention of meeting up with these people, since he and his friend were literally just passing through.

In 2016, dating apps are old news, just an increasingly normal way to look for love and sex. Of course, results can vary depending on what it is people want—to hook up or have casual sex, to date casually, or to date as a way of actively looking for a relationship.

The question is not if they work, because they obviously can, but how well do they work? “I have had lots of luck hooking up, so if that’s the criteria I would say it’s certainly served its purpose,” says Brian, a 44-year-old gay man who works in fashion retail in New York City.

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