While many might consider technology to be something exclusive to the tech-savvy and young, the world of tech and the platforms that power it are becoming more accessible to everyone.

Take, for example, the most recent Twilight installment, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The movie featured a scene where characters Alice and Edward discuss computer science and technology, with Edward revealing that his firm has created a program that predicts people’s purchasing tendencies based on their search history. Edward goes on to say that their algorithm can predict that someone who searches for “wire cutters” will soon be purchasing a wire cutters set. What happened next was beyond what many in the audience would have considered typical movie magic: a swarm of automated wire cutters descended upon the little Edward and Alice, snipping thousands of dollars’ worth of wiring in a matter of seconds.

To hear the characters speak, you would never guess that they were created by a genius mind, and were only now becoming available to the general public. And, in fact, that’s exactly what happened. Before the release of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the creators of the algorithm revealed that indeed, the characters were based on real people and places. The wire cutters were, in fact, real and were inspired by a story about a swarm of robots that descended upon a house and began cutting all the wires they could find. In addition, a swarm of “wire whisperers” (robotic bees) had previously appeared in Honeymooners, a 1950s television show that also served as the inspiration for the game show of the same name that is still aired today. And, in case you’re curious, “robotic pinscher” is the name given to the robots in the movie Gremlins 2: The New Baddies.)

The point is this: while technology can be considered futuristic and glamorous, it can also be used to track and monitor our every move. So, what does all this have to do with romance? Well, if you’re worried that your partner might be reading your texts, emailing your friends or tracking your every move with a GPS chip, you might want to consider whether or not a relationship will work out for you.

The Rise Of Online Dating

It wasn’t that long ago that people exclusively turned to traditional avenues for meeting potential partners. Those who worked in the entertainment industry might meet their partners at work, through mutual friends, or even through family. But, over the years, the way we meet strangers has shifted.

Thanks to the internet and dating sites like Tinder, Bumble, and Happn, connecting with someone new no longer means going to the movies or dinner and a show. Instead, it means connecting with someone online and then meeting up somewhere either in person or virtually.

And that’s precisely what many people are doing. According to a 2016 Hitwise report, 69% of American adults have used an online dating app or website. And, around the same time, Statista reported that 41% of American adults have used an online dating service or app.

Not only is meeting people online easier than ever before, it’s also much more convenient. You can search for someone who shares your interests and hobbies, instead of having to seek them out in person. In the past, finding a partner had required a lot of initiative and probably a few drinks. Now that we have apps to help, it’s opened up the field of possibilities for those who are looking.

This isn’t to say that the bar has been lowered in terms of what constitutes a suitable partner. While the platforms make it easier to find someone who shares your interests, they also make it easier to find someone who shares your flaws. Yes, online dating has made finding a life partner easier—but it’s also made finding the wrong person much easier too. This is a concern that many people, especially in the early days of a relationship, will have to face. But, with a little bit of effort, you can figure out whether or not a potential partner is the right fit for you.

Security And Privacy

Online dating isn’t perfect, and it certainly isn’t safe. About 70% of adults have reported that they worry about security and privacy issues when using dating apps and websites. This is largely because there isn’t always an easy way to verify the details about a person you’re connecting with. Even if a dating app takes security seriously and ensures that your personal information is always well-guarded, there are still ways in which it can be hacked. For instance, in early 2018 it was revealed that a third-party developer had access to hundreds of thousands of Tinder users’ personal data. This included email addresses, birthdates, sexual preferences, and other profile information. The developer, a 27-year-old man named Pablo Marquez, was arrested and later charged with one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of wire fraud. (Marquez has since pleaded guilty. As part of a plea deal, he was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $400,000 fine. He also had to surrender his passport, have no contact with the victims, and must verify his identity every time he logs on.)

Dating websites and apps are, in theory, safer than other forms of online communication because they’re usually only accessible to those who know exactly who they are meeting online. However, as we’ve seen, this doesn’t always guarantee safety. This is why it’s important to be mindful of who you’re connecting with and what you’re getting into. Are you sure that this person is who they claim to be? Has this person already done this or said this about another person? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself before entering into a truly secure and private dating relationship.

For those who do use these services, it’s also important to keep your guard up. It’s easy to get distracted by the pleasantries of a promising conversation and forget about your surroundings. This is why many people feel more comfortable keeping their guard up when using these services. Of course, safety isn’t an issue when meeting in person either, but it’s still nice to meet someone over the internet first and then decide whether or not to bring them into your real life. It means there’s less risk of being cheated on. More and more people are looking for this type of arrangement since it makes cheating less likely. At least, in theory.

The Influence Of Social Media

While many people were finding love and romance through online dating, others were finding more profit. Thanks to the rise of social media and the influence it has on our lives, our ability to find love and romance has been greatly amplified. In 2016, one in five American adults reported to Gallup that they had been contacted by a prospective partner via a social media platform. And, according to a 2017 YouGov survey, 37% of respondents said that social media was the platform they used most often to meet new people (20% said they used online dating platforms, and 17% said they used Facebook).

Romance and relationships have always been a major focus of social media. For instance, TikTok, the popular video platform that recently surpassed YouTube for daily average watch time, was initially created as a dating app. But it didn’t take long for the platform to grow beyond just serving that purpose. Today, TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms, with 400 million monthly active users. And it’s growing, fast. In early 2018, TikTok was valued at around $20 billion.

Since its inception, TikTok has constantly updated its algorithm to ensure that the most engaging content rises to the top. This includes offering a popular “boost” feature, which allows notable figures in the community to have their videos promoted to the forefront. Anyone with significant influence works with an ad agency to create video content that will resonate with audiences across the platform. Sometimes this is in the form of a cooking tutorial, other times it’s a music video, and still others it’s an explainer video for an app or technology.

The effect this content has on younger generations, in particular, cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that the more time kids spend on social media platforms like TikTok, the more they’ll be influenced by those who use them. In other words, the next generation of teens and twenty-somethings might look incredibly similar to the generation that came before them. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is something to keep in mind when considering the future of your romantic life and the world at large.