This isn’t a discussion as to the usual dangers of dating online; people not being who they say they are, giving out too many personal details etc etc.
But this is, as I see it, a very real danger in itself.
A decade ago online dating had a stigma attached to it. To say you had met your partner on a dating website, was looked down upon. Those around you (and maybe rightfully so) would voice their concern as to the problems with meeting strangers in real life, it was seen as an inability to meet people in the real world and was viewed as an arena for weird people to find love. Fast forward to 2014 and things- thankfully!– have changed. Infact, online dating isn’t just socially acceptable now, it is the norm. It is encouraged. A decade ago, it was for middle aged adults who seldom met new people; perhaps due to work commitments, maybe post-divorce, possibly due to bringing children up or the fact that all said person’s friends remained happily married and no longer on the hunt. There are 101 reasons as to why middle aged adults may struggle to meet new people in the real world and so, for them, online dating is ideal. Nowadays, however, it is for everyone- from the young, to the old. From the beautiful, to the less so. From the sociable, to the unsociable. It knows no bounds.
Whilst this is a good thing, I find it worrying at the same time. Tinder is a fabulous invention (I can’t deny my love for the app) but it isn’t for the middle-aged, in fact it is primarily for the young, for people like me, for students. Now, is that not perverse?! Here I am, along with my friends, having moved many miles away from home to study at university; to gain some independence, to get a degree and to meet new people. Yet, here I am- here we all are- talking to people who are elsewhere, online.
Online dating is no longer the novel addition to dating, it’s no longer a new way to meet people. It is now the alternative to meeting people in real life, it is the way to meet new people. This is the danger.
Recently I went on a night out and sitting in a booth of a nightclub, my friends and I were all glued to our phones. Our fingers running around the little screens in a frenzy as we replied to tons of messages that we were getting, flicking our way left and right through possible Tinder matches and as we flirted via text with boys we like. The booth beside us was filled with men, who, like us, were scrolling through Facebook pages and sending message after message to their ladies. A group of good looking ladies and a group of good looking men- side by side, yet nobody approached the other. Instead we all (and I am as guilty as the rest) initiated conversations with strangers who were not near and who we could not see. HOW IS THIS GOOD FOR US? This isn’t helping our love lives. It’s ruining them! It’s also ruining our ability to converse face-to-face without a moment’s pause to come up with a witty response, without the aid of emoticons to guide the conversation and without the ability to stop replying abruptly.
We are moving backwards.
Online dating is fabulous for people who simply cannot meet new people. It sometimes suits those who can; the very shy and the very self conscious. But the rest of us? The virtual world is not a preferable alternative to the real thing. Maybe we like photoshopping our photos and enjoy the ability to portray ourselves in a particular way online. We lose these freedoms in the real world where my flabby arms and oily skin become visible, where a question requires an immediate response. Is this bad? No. This is who we are. This is the real us.
If we want real relationships then surely this is what our partners have to see? We come into contact with hundreds of people a day: on the daily commute, in the supermarket, waiting in a queue….why don’t we seize these real opportunities and find love the traditional, best way? OH, I remember, we are too busy on our phones to look up and notice the moment.