08/08/2016 12:26 BST | Updated 09/08/2017 06:12 BST

2016: Can We Find Love Without a Smartphone?


Once upon a time love was found in odes, sonnets, scriptures. A quill, ink pot and bursting heart was all you needed to woo your lover. Today, steady 4G, Instagram-perfected selfies and a slick anecdote will suffice. Before, you met your lover at the pub; now, it's via gaming or chatrooms.

With the success of Pokémon Go comes the expected online dating tie-in. Project Fixup has recently launched PokéDates; with many predicting it will overtake Tinder as the must-have dating app. The concept is pretty simple, like the slogan says: "Gotta catch 'em all, together!" Sign up to the site, select your preferences, and add three photos. After you share your Pokémon Go schedule and location, you'll be sent possible invitations for a date at a PokéStop. Then you're left to roam the poké-verse with your chosen 'hunter'. The first PokéDate is free, after that there's a $20 fee per date. That's quite a sum to meet someone to catch virtual creatures.

Project Fixup's Chief Officer told FORBES that PokéDates eliminates "huge time-suck" of browsing and swiping: "PokéDates and Project Fixup turns online dating into offline dating." Offline dating based around an activity where it's necessary to stare into your phone screen...

I hope I'm not alone in finding this quite depressing. Of course, PokéDates does mean that two strangers can bond over a mutual interest. Nothing wrong there. It's just sad that that happens to be finding a yellow mouse-shaped object with a lightning bolt for a tail. But times have changed. Your smartphone was once an aid in finding a love match, now it's a requirement.

Dating apps have turned the game on its head. More people than ever are getting out there, but are digi-dates really giving us a better chance at finding a match?

Love is no longer blind. You can vet your prospective date via all the social networks possible. Let's face it - you've already made up your mind before you've met. Tinder, Happn etc. might have simplified the dating process to our basest inclinations--we are instinctively attracted by looks - but the shallowness of the swipe doesn't hold much for compromise in person.

Add to that the tantalising amount of potential hookups. 'There's plenty more fish in the sea'; the phrase purposely designed to irritate recent singletons, is all part of the thrill with apps like Tinder. So what you didn't hit it off with the wine aficionado, Tristan? You've yet to meet Tobey, Matt and Jack, and infinite possibilities right in the palm of your hand. Before e-dating there was the idea that love came to you, the miracle of happenstance. Now, the search is most of the fun. The stigma around online matchmakers - desperate and slightly mad for talking to someone you'd never seen face to face - no longer exists. Online dating plunges us into the dating pool in a way that's non-committal, and fun.

By now, many of our generation (myself included) have drunk the Kool-Aid. Dating apps might be great for the time-poor but the trend is undoubtedly taking away our ability to connect without being connected. Tinder currently has 10 million active users, with many citing social barriers and shyness are amongst the things they seek to overcome. Yes, apps are a porthole to meet people but the hard work is still down to you. And chemistry is still chemistry after all -- Tinder's flame logo doesn't guarantee sparks in real life.

PokéDates might already have an 85% success rate, but I'm still rooting for the old fashioned way. Putting down your phone and chatting someone up in a bar. Without the help of a Jigglypuff.