Digital match-making services have done more than just change how we find our perfect squeeze; they're changing the fundamental nature of our social networks.According to a pair of researchers investigating online dating, the way we're looking for love (and lust) is connecting communities in completely novel ways, breaking down boundaries and possibly even making for stronger long-term relationships.Society can be modelled as a web of interlinked nodes, where individuals are the node and the link describes how well they know one another.Most people are tightly connected with about a hundred nodes, including close friends and family, and loosely connected with others.Take interracial relationships, for example, long held to be a measure of the general social distances within a population.
Just a few random new paths between different node villages can completely change how a network functions.
Marriages online were also predicted by the model to be more robust and less likely to end in divorce, a hypothesis which is supported by a study conducted in 2013.
The study is currently available online on the pre-publish website arxiv.com, so it has not completed its full peer-review process just yet.
The increase steepened at the turn of the 21st century in line with the rise in online dating, and then even further as swipe-to-match apps like Tinder went mainstream around 2014 (it launched in late 2012).
While there are almost certainly a variety of influences, the network changes resulting from online dating fits the observations perfectly."Our model predicts nearly complete racial integration upon the emergence of online dating, even if the number of partners that individuals meet from newly formed ties is small," say Ortega and Hergovich.