Technology and Romance

Nov 17 2017
Written by NYU Shanghai

On November 13, a faculty-student debate rebutting technology’s impact on forming romantic relationships attracted many on the rebound from the rampant spending sprees of Single’s Day just two days before.

The lively debate was initiated by the Committee for Critical Inquiry, who also conducted an anonymous survey among students and staff beforehand, regarding how and when they had met their most recent romantic partner and if they thought social media and technology helped or harmed romantic relationships.

Out of the 67 responses, results showed that three percent of relationships were formed online before 2015 whereas more recently-formed online relationships accounted for 30 percent. On the ten-fold increase, professors and students from various academic fields ranging from computer science, psychology to urban study, offered different perspectives.

In favor of advancing romance through technology, junior Bareeha Dehradunwala and sophomore Claire Noble-Randall, joined by Assistant Professor of Psychology Cui Lixian and Dean of Engineering and Computer Science Professor Keith Ross, argued that social media and technology were ideal tools in helping people connect with better matched partners.

Because of the vast user base of social media, they pointed out that online-dating platforms have created more and larger opportunities for people to seek, connect and interact with likeminded others.

“Social media can help people with specific needs to identify possible dates that fulfill their criteria,” said Dehradunwala. “People can also practice their communication skills online and apply them to offline interactions.”

Professor Ross added that the development of social media technology has enabled people, “especially introverts, LGBTQ groups and people with disabilities,” to expand their social circles beyond what was available beforehand.



Seniors Luc Riesbeck and Yao Kaixuan, together with Visiting Professor of Psychology Pekka Santtila and Assistant Professor of Global China Studies Lena Scheen, voiced their concerns about the negative impact of new technologies on forming romantic relationships.

They argued that new technology not only undermines social bonds as it reduces human touch and their willingness to interact in real life, but also makes it harder for people to commit due to the many options it provides.

“Besides, more than 80 percent of profiles on dating apps or websites are inaccurate. People tend to market themselves well during online dating,” Professor Scheen added.

Professor Santtila, member of the organizing committee, said more such debates will be organized in the future to foster critical thinking among community members over hot social topics. “Students will not only gain broader knowledge from outside their individual fields, but also develop a greater sense of confidence through expressing their points of view through debate,” he added.