The face of dating has changed dramatically over the last decade. There are quite a few reasons for this: from the rise of mobile interactive media such as Tinder and Badoo, to the fast pace of life and our inability to approach dating with patience.
The rise of the digital dating age seemed to be the next logical step for our technology-centric society. And sure, while this has given hermits and reclusive people a chance at reproduction, it has also transformed the dating terrain for large portions of the population that grew up learning to meet girls at clubs, work or any other example of real-life.
However, whether you like it or not, digital dating is here to stay and it is growing in popularity. So, to prepare yourself for engaging in the medium of romance with success and not awkward terror, here are some sheer ironies for you to watch out for when using online dating platforms.
Whatever happened to face value?
While good looks do help with getting a foot in the door when it comes to dating, they will only get you so far. We have been raised in a society that teaches us not to judge a book by its cover, a man by his hairline or a woman by her waist line; and while we all like to believe that we are a little less shallow than that, dating platforms have been set up, and are used in a way that is contrary to our positive self -image.
So why then, is a user’s image on a dating platform the most important piece of information you can get? Sure, you don’t want to be surprised by a hot date with a blonde donning a swastika tattoo on her forehead; but surely getting to know someone requires a little more than a few photos, a generic one-line description and a list of unimportant interests like ‘handbags’, ‘makeup’ and ‘sleeping’.
Now everyone is photoshopped
You would think that the shallow nature of online dating would give those who are aesthetically challenged quite the handicap in the dating world; though not necessarily.
If there is one thing that has always been true about digital dating, is that you rarely get what you see. But as photo-editing software and applications become more advanced and user-friendly, it’s getting harder and harder to tell who is who.
You can straighten your hair, lose a ton of weight or clear up your skin with a swipe of a finger on your phone; and everybody knows it. So why then, are images so important in the first place?
Though it’s not even the image manipulation that is the most misleading. On social media, you can be anyone you like. You can be a philanthropist, mountain climbing rock star with super-powers, a billion dollars and a doctorate. Okay, not quite, but you get the picture.
People don’t talk about who they are online, they talk about who they would like to be; or rather who they would like to be seen as. You do it, I do it, even your nan who just discovered Facebook does it. It’s human nature, but that doesn’t help when the super-model you’re supposed to be meeting up with for drinks turns out to be an oil-rig worker.
You think it may be separating us
Not all of the irony behind online dating is negative (although that might be a perspective thing). It is generally assumed that the use of digital media is separating us since it stops us from interacting in the real-world. This is a logical assumption, but oddly enough, in the land of online dating, it isn’t always true.
And what do we have to thank about that? Honestly, I think it might be ethics:
Designers of online dating platforms need to be careful not to encourage user behavior that is openly prejudice, for example. When filtering your searches on most dating platforms there are a number of options which are available, such as income and race.
In a world where we all struggle to build and navigate cross-cultural relations, dating apps put people in a position where they can meet people from different walks of life which traditional dating (being subject to social circles) would rarely allow.
So, who knows? Keep at it and you might actually shack up with a princess.
Not looking for hookups
Different users of online dating platforms have varying opinions on why they exist in the first place. They are widely believed by men to be a great place for one-night-stands and booty-calls, while more than a few of my female friends scour them for prospective long-term partners.
The varying opinions are easily settled though, by looking at how the majority of users interact with the medium; that is to say, it is mostly for flings, short term regrets and a shot at something which will likely fizzle if you’re lucky.
So why then, is everyone online so coy about it? Just about every profile on Tinder talks about anything but sex. If you want to get to know someone you need to actually meet them; so why scare prospective dates off by telling them they need to commit to you when all they have seen of you is a poorly photoshopped picture of you standing in front of someone else’s car?
Okay, fine, so it isn’t only for sex, and I’m sure that some lucky people have met their perfect matches by swiping right on their professionally edited face.
While reports on why people use apps like Tinder are varied, their CEO would like you to believe that 80% of their users are looking for long term relationships. I wonder how many of them actually find them.
What are some of your biggest challenges in dating online? Weigh in with your stories in the comment section below!
Guest contributor bio: Terrence Kennedy is the man’s man on a journey to self-discovery. A traveler, extreme sports aficionado, an observant wanderer, a DIY man, an ultimate outsider and documentarist of culture, sex, dating, relationship, fashion, style and gentleman’s etiquette. He has learned a lot through his escapades and continue to do so, and is happy to pass that knowledge to you.