I peered into the screen myopically. There were pictures of girls swishing backwards and forwards. My son’s finger moved at a demonic rate. “Look at this app, Amol.” He was in a meeting with his intern, an intern hired by my millennial son to experiment with the factors that went into snagging a date. “It’s a match!” flashed the screen.“Your picture from your college days is getting more matches.” Amol had been experimenting with different photographs to see which one had a higher success rate. “What! I don’t like my picture from UCLA. I look too fat in that one.” The girls apparently disagreed, going for the rounder Disneque profile. While the intern was re-engineering the online dating profile, optimizing it for algorithmic love, sending kisses down the wire, however, turned out to be not so easy.
Repeated use of the stock email response locked the app into loops. It came to the conclusion that a robot had created the profile and it shut out the user. Thus ended the very short internship.
“Millennials are undermining tried-and-true dating rituals,” lamented The New York Times’s writer Alex Williams. “Raised in the age of so-called hookup culture, millennials—who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down—are subverting the rules of courtship. Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” subverting tried-and-true dating rituals.” “It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five.”
“The new date is ‘hanging out.’” Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape, was told by a male friend: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing—going to an event, a concert.”
The millennials or the generation born roughly between the year 1980 and year 2000 are also known as generation Y, generation we, and the Peter Pan generation. The oldest members of this generation are approaching age 34; the youngest are approaching adolescence. This generation now making their passage into adulthood are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change, says Pew Research Center’s report that looks at the values, attitudes and experiences of America’s next generation: the Millennials. These young adult “are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding.”
They have a phone strapped to them as an adjunct body part. They fall asleep texting and wake up with their finger on the smart phone button. In fact they live their lives in a world of online chatter. As per Experian, U.S. smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average—67 texts on a daily basis—and receive another 1,831. Pew found, “It’s not just their gadgets— it’s the way they’ve fused their social lives into them.” The smart phone is used less to make calls and more as a hook into the web of social networking and conducting their love lives.
Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University suggests sixty-seven percent of American millennials and seventy-five percent of online Indian millennials say they’re in love. These “digital natives” are happy to announce it to the world, sharing their love on Facebook. Forty-one percent of American millennials who are in love update their Facebook status weekly. Sixty-one percent of Indian millennials in love say they update their status (at least) weekly. Millennials between the ages of 28-32 are more likely to report being in love than millennials ages 18-22.
“Online websites and apps are the tools my generation uses to meet up,” explains my millennial son. Websites like OK Cupid and Coffee meets Bagel and apps like Dil Mil and Tinder match thousands of boys and girls. Grouper arranges a group date. Three men and three women meet at a restaurant in the hope that at least a couple of people in that combination will click. Coffee Meets Bagel sends members a “bagel” every day at noon, which is basically the pictures and profile of someone who fits the criteria that they had picked. If the bagels like each other, a private line is created where they can message each other.
The fastest growing free dating app in the United States is Tinder. It has gamified the dating game. Users download the app on their iphones, sign in using their Facebook ids thus sharing their name, photos, age and sexual orientation with Tinder. They are immediately shown dozens of pictures of persons of their preferred sex. They can swipe right if they like what they see or swipe left if they don’t. According to Bloomberg Business Week: “Tinder is a pathologically addictive flirting-dating-hookup app.” The average Tinderer checks the app 11 times per day, seven minutes at a time, thereby spending more than an hour a day “swiping” potential mates and chatting with matches in the app, according to Rosette Pambakian, vice president for corporate communications and branding at the app’s Los Angeles headquarter. The app makes 22 million “matches” per day, processing a staggering 1.5 billion “swipes” left and right daily. The company says it knows of 50 marriage proposals to date.
Tinder is available in 24 languages with approximately 22-24 million users. It is estimated that Tinder will reach 50 million users by the end of 2016. According to CNN, Tinder is growing its user base in India by 1% per day and is a huge hit in cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. The difference between the Indian online millennial and the US one is that Indian online millennials remain more traditional in as much as they are either single or married, says Peter Boatwright of the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. In the U.S., living with a partner is higher than in India. There are many more in the U.S. who simply say they are “in a relationship.” Online millennials in India are having children earlier than are their U.S. counterparts as well.
In a highly mobile world migration from India to the United States is swelling the ranks of the millennials in the US. Behavior and values mingle and create new dynamics.
On one date, that was arranged online, a girl showed up for the date wearing a sari, surprising the 27 old Bay Area resident of South Asian descent.
This generation has embraced the responsibility of arranging their marriage themselves. Dusting off their glasses, they are hitting the beauty parlors and the hairdressers. Clicking their pictures and making their profiles, they are fixing rendezvouses and meeting boys and girls on their own terms.
“Because millennials don’t respect authority, they also don’t resent it. That’s why they’re the first teens who aren’t rebelling,” says The Times. MTV president Stephen Friedman, 43, who now includes parents in nearly all the channel’s reality shows says, “One of our research studies early on said that a lot of this audience outsources their superego to their parents. The most simple decision of should I do this or should I do that–our audience will check in with their parents.”
They are mindful of their parents’ opinions. Dil Mile is an app specifically designed for the South Asian millennial. It aims to help every desi “20-something-year-old find someone who Mummy and Papa will approve of,” says Brown Girl magazine. 24-year-old Kamaljit (“K.J.”) Dhaliwal, who launched the app wants to help his brethren find someone “easier and faster.” K.J. worked in NYC and Philadelphia in the investment and trading industry before he moved to the Bay Area and closed angel funding valuing Dil Mil at 5 million USD.
Inter-racial marriages are not frowned upon by these citizens of the flat world. However, Cameron Okeke, senior at the University of Chicago believes that the notion that their age group is the most “tolerant” generation should be taken in context. “I think that love may be blind, but I think relationships aren’t,” Cameron Okeke, senior at the University of Chicago said. “Relationships don’t just run off your love, they run off understanding and reasoning and compassion. I feel that we may be progressive cognitively, but we’re still programmed the same way, we’re still exposed to the same insecurities of different races and how they’re supposed to be,” Okeke said to the University of Illinois Daily.
“Let’s have a look at online dating,” says Amne Alrifai, 20-something-year-old-Muslim-Lebanese-Australian-Daughter-of-Migrants scientist in her blog Unveiled Thought. “You realise you’re ready to find Mr. Right (or Mrs. Right—this is an equal opportunity blogsite). Your friends convince you to sign up to a dating website … So how is matchmaking by your parents or their friends different? I … I can’t believe I’m actually saying this—but I think it’s exactly the same … My dad and I have our ups and downs, but he’s my hero and loves me so much and knows me so well. Having him as a bouncer for my heart is sounding like a great idea. Knowing that he’ll interrogate any potential suitors and ensure that the man I end up with comes from the top shelf and not from the bargain basket is pretty comforting.”
“If my parents introduced me to a suitable boy,” says a Fremont twenty-four-year old resident not averse to being introduced, “it would take the work out of it for me.”
Shuttled from activity to activity with no down time to just hang out, they didn’t learn the art of flirting and romancing. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, from 1981 to 1997, “free” or “unsupervised” time in the typical preteen’s day shrank by 37 percent. As they enter adulthood, smart phone in hand, they scan the room to see if “it’s a match.” “You’ve got mail” is so passé.
Ritu Marwah has pursued theater, writing, marketing, startup management, raising children, coaching debate and hiking. Ritu graduated from Delhi with a master’s degree in business, joined the Tata Group and worked in London for ten years.
Millennials are Crazy in Love at Home and Abroad
Pittsburgh, January 30, 2015 – They are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers and are less likely to get married than previous generations, but that doesn’t mean Millennials are afraid to use the “L-word.”
According to new data from the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, 67% of American Millennials and 75% of Indian Millennials say they’re in love. And these “digital natives” are not shy about sharing their love on Facebook:
· 41% of American Millennials who are in love update their Facebook status weekly.
· But … 61% of Indian Millennials in love say they update their status (at least) weekly.
· Meanwhile for those unlucky in love, only 34% of American Millennials and 44% of Indian Millennials not in love update their Facebook status weekly.
· In both the United States and India, Millennials between the ages of 28-32 are more likely to report being in love than Millennials ages 18-22.
“There is a lot of a discussion today about Millennials, relationships and marriage. This is an interesting look at what Millennials’ views are on romance,” said Peter Boatwright, co-director of the Integrated Innovation Institute. “Though just a glimpse into two cultures’ young adult population, it looks like they’re ‘feeling the love’.”
The Integrated Innovation Institute’s Millennial Segmentation Study is a first-of-its-kind, ongoing study that takes an in-depth look at the values and behaviors of Millennials in order to better understand and prepare companies and others serving them. The study surveyed 2,000 men and women, ages 18-34, on a variety of topics including professional pursuits, financial habits and purchasing behaviors, health attitudes, beliefs about God and social media engagement, among others. Previous infographics illustrated Millennials’ attitudes toward love, religion and finances.