While I realize inter-ethnic dating has its own obstacles, Tinder and other dating apps are bringing people together.
Like me, you were probably depressed by the sight of the president of the United States leading a rally in 2019, at which an angry mob chanted “send her back!” in reference to a Somali-born US congresswoman. Even Trump’s mate Piers Morgan wrote that the rally “bordered on fascism.”
What can we do about the rising racism and polarization in western societies? The internet was meant to bring us closer together, yet apps like Facebook, run by Bay Area liberals, are having the unintended consequence of segregating us into self-reinforcing bubbles.
There is one app, however, which does seem to be genuinely supporting multicultural integration … Tinder. Yes, although dating apps are neither designed nor used with lofty motives, the unintended consequence of their popularity is a rise in inter-racial partnerships and marriages.
Most couples in western countries now meet not through family, friends, or acquaintances, but online through apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Spank, Egg Whisk, and Fuckbuddy. And that, according to sociologist Reuben Thomas, makes them more likely to settle down with someone from a different race, class, religion, or educational background (though not, alas, with someone from a different political loyalty).
A similar trend was observed in 2017 by Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich. They wrote: “We used to marry people to whom we were somehow connected. Since we were more connected to people similar to us, we were also likely to marry someone from our own race. However, online dating has changed this pattern.” The authors go on: “It is intriguing that shortly after the introduction of the first dating websites in 1995, like Match.com, the percentage of new marriages created by interracial couples increased rapidly.”
The increase became steeper in the 2000s, when online dating became even more popular. Then, in 2014, the proportion of interracial marriages jumped again, shortly after the creation of Tinder.
Tinder has been keen to promote this unexpected liberal benefit to its fetid feast of fuckbois and fappers. It did a survey in 2018 of 4,244 people (not just Tinder users) ages 24 to 25 living in the US, the UK, Australia, and France. 63% said they’ve felt more confident about dating people from different races or ethnicities when online dating. And 66% said that online dating services have made it easier to meet potential partners of a different race or ethnicity.
As for Tinder users specifically, 79% say they’ve been on a date with someone of a different race, compared to 62% of non-Tinder users. Tinder has now successfully campaigned to get 71 new inter-racial emojis introduced. Go Tinder!
Who knows whether inter-racial partnerships have risen for other reasons than Tinder – such as the rise in immigration, or the media promotion of inter-racial relationships – but I’m sure it’s had some effect.
Today, if you live in London, you see interracial couples all the time, of every possible combination. I personally find it very encouraging, and kinda sweet.
When Martin Luther King had his dream of little white children and little black children playing together, he didn’t envisage them sending each other dick pics and eggplant emojis. But, in the words of UCL geneticist Steve Jones, “lust is the great healer.”
I’ve been dating a Zimbabwean woman, Danai, for the last three months – we happened to match, happened to go on a date, and happened to really like each other. All pretty random, yet obviously it has an impact on one, in all sorts of ways.
I realize inter-ethnic dating is fraught with obstacles.
There’s the risk of fetishization. People cruise the virtual pick-up bars, looking for their “type” – Asian, mixed race, BBW, whatever. You’re just the latest in a long conveyer belt. “I only date black women,” Danai was told by a previous white date. “I like to swirl” (I am new to this slightly gross phrase, for when a white man dates a black woman). Others have received online chat-up lines like, “I want a taste of jungle fever” or “I’ve always wanted to fuck an Asian.”
There’s the risk of stereotypes. Mr. I-Only-Date-Black-Women told Danai his image of black women came from hip-hop videos. She sometimes feels she has to manage her blackness, for example not get angry because it would fulfill the stereotype of “Angry Black Woman.”
There’s the risk of colonialism in one’s desires. There’s evidence of all sorts of racial/racist preferences in our online dating – Grindr users are so brutally candid that Grindr launched an anti-racist initiative called Kindr Grindr.
For Tinder users specifically, 79% say they’ve been on a date with someone of a different race, compared to 62% of non-Tinder users. Tinder has now successfully campaigned to get 71 new inter-racial emojis introduced. Go Tinder!
And there’s the risk of icebergs of cultural difference which one doesn’t see in the sexed-up early days but which can wreck a relationship later on. You might fancy each other, but there are still big differences in cultural attitudes to relationships, family, money, religion, and so on.
If you get beyond all these obstacles and actually settle down with someone from a different ethnicity, of course, it changes you. Even more, if you have children. If you’re white, it means that racism is no longer something that happens to other people. It happens to your loved ones. You are committed, not just abstractly, but with the deep bonds of your heart, to a future which is less racist and more equitable.
That, I think, is why Charlie Brooker makes just about every romantic relationship in Black Mirror an inter-racial one. He happened to marry a British-Indian lady and has mixed-race kids. He is committed, not abstractly but with the deep bonds of his heart, to a future that is less racist, more equitable, and more mixed-race.
There is a big shift happening in western countries: a demographic shift, whereby white people will be a minority in most western countries by 2050. Many western cities and some states (California) are already majority non-white. This is a huge change, even if liberals don’t like to talk about it.
According to the LSE political scientist Eric Kaufmann, author of the recent book Whiteshift, white people are reacting in one of three ways.
One is “white flight.” They move out of big cities to the countryside or to predominantly white towns. Maybe they are not consciously doing it for racial reasons, but still, their kids grow up in mainly white schools and their friends are mainly white. They don’t complain about the new dispensation (that would be racist). They just … retreat.
The second response is “resist.” Around half of white Americans think that America becoming majority non-white will weaken American values and culture. That’s why they support an openly racist president who says things like “send them back where they came from.”
Even if you’re not a Ku Klux Klan wizard, perhaps you resent the liberal ideology that sees cis white men as The Enemy. As whiteness becomes an ethnic minority, doesn’t it deserve similar respect, promotion, and protection, like any other minority group? Shouldn’t whities resist the passing of the old culture?
I don’t quite see the long-term game plan for the resistance response … the demographics aren’t on your side. And I hope my culture – liberal democracy – will survive the decline of the white majority. But in the short to medium term, Trump has shown you can win elections simply by appealing to white panic.
The third response is “integrate.” Join in with the new multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, majority-non-white culture.
I can understand all these responses.
I can understand people who move out of London because they find its multiculturalism lacking in deep community and frightening in its violent crime. I can understand white people not wanting their children to be ethnic minorities in London schools.
I can understand white people who do not cheer at the passing of the old majority-white culture. Why should they? It’s a massive shift in national culture and identity, and obviously, some people will find the change destabilizing and unwelcome. I can understand why some of them end up drawn to white special interest groups like the Brexit Party or Republican Party, who call for the return of the good ol’ days. I think it’s a big mistake, but I understand the psychology behind it.
And I have sympathy with white people who embrace and celebrate the new multi-ethnic multi-cultural society as not just inevitable but exciting, creative, and morally good.
It strikes me that it’s somewhat random which of these three groups one finds oneself in. One click … and you’re in a Facebook group filled with posts about the Great Replacement. One swipe … and your kids are mixed race.
The next few decades will be bumpy – climate change, mass migration, the emergence of China as the main superpower, and this massive shift in western demographics and national identities.
If we survive, the human race will be utterly changed, and I suspect we will be much less white.