Dick pics and Tinderella: are dating apps the end of romance?

Battle of Ideas festival 2022, Saturday 15 October, Church House, London

Recorded at the Battle of Ideas festival 2022 on Saturday 15 October at Church House, London.


Once online dating carried a taboo. But now you cannot move for a new innovative app – like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Thursday and Grindr – catering for every possible niche. Over the past five years, dating apps have exploded. Now, an estimated 323million people worldwide use them, while stories of fairy-tale romances and horrific first dates abound.

Are dating apps a good thing? Many exalt the liberating effect of online dating. Whereas previously a singleton could only talk to two or three people in a bar on any particular night, now you can interact with hundreds of potential partners, from around the world, from the comfort of your own home. Others are more critical, claiming dating apps create the mindset that there is always something better at the next swipe. Critics argue that such an ephemeral approach means people are less willing to commit and work on relationships for the long-term, ultimately contributing to an increasingly atomised world.

Are dating apps ushering in a new, dystopian romantic landscape in which sex is the result of an algorithm? Or is the increased choice a boon for the individual? Are we swiping right for a new age of sexual liberation or swiping left on a technological innovation that is pulling us further apart?

Nick Dixon
comedian; presenter, GB News; host, The Weekly Sceptic; co-host, The Podcast of the Lotus Eaters

Madeline Grant
columnist, assistant comment editor and parliamentary sketchwriter, Telegraph; former editorial manager, Institute of Economic Affairs

Dr Zoe Strimpel
historian; British Academy research fellow, University of Warwick; columnist, Sunday Telegraph; author, What the Hell Is He Thinking?, The Man Diet and Seeking Love in Modern Britain

Dr Keith Teare
CEO, Signalrank Corporation; Silicon-Valley-based serial entrepreneur

Adam Rawcliffe
director of partnerships, Spectator; associate fellow, Academy of Ideas