It makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for.
It also helps the people who use the apps by allowing them to enjoy a pattern of regular hookups that don’t have to lead to relationships.
For folks who are meeting people everyday—really younger people in their early twenties—online dating is relevant, but it really becomes a powerful force for people in thin dating markets.
In a 2012 paper, I wrote about how among heterosexuals, the people who are most likely to use online dating are the middle-aged folks, because they’re the ones in the thinnest dating market.
In fact, by several measures, online dating has proved even more useful — both to individuals and society — than the traditional avenues it has replaced.