There’s still a stigma attached to the notion of finding love over the Internet. However, the phrase “internet dating” drums up a very unpleasant image in my mind – one of an overweight man in his fifties, eating a burger that rests unsettlingly upon his bulging stomach, while he types furiously on his archaic home PC. Not to mention the ponytail which only just holds the hair remaining on his balding head. It’s this stigma that has people avoiding the topic of how they met their significant other like the bubonic plague or something equally as fatal. However, I’m of the opinion that, much like every technological advance these days, we have to roll with the times and accept the ultimate demise of our long-established traditional ways.
Internet dating back then pales in comparison with today’s methods and means. A couple of decades ago, we were restricted by many invisible forces, such as Internet availability, knowledge of such sites and chatrooms, and even access to computers. This either ignited or fuelled the taboo nature of the matter, making people less likely to disclose their digital courtships. Back in the nineties, when Internet dating was in its infancy, much of the doings were discreet enough to go about your daily business with others completely unaware of your “dark secret.” Much like my introduction to this blog post, the overall opinion of Internet dating was far from positive. Whether or not this is a hangover from people’s ignorance and uncertainty of modern technology, in general, remains to be seen. Obviously, we’ve come miles in terms of technology, swiping through our options in the privacy of our own hands on smartphones as opposed to firing up the old mother ship that and logging on to some questionable chatroom and initiating conversation with an unidentifiable (presumed) human.
To some, relinquishing the control it is assumed we have over fate when it comes to matters of the heart might seem daunting enough but I tend to take another stance. Our fear of the unknown has subsided considerably in the past decade, and we’ve become more aware of the “dangers” of online dating (thanks to Nev Schulman for taking one for the team), which explains our openness in disclosing our usage of Tinder, Bumble, and the countless other dating apps out there. But two words stick out in my mind when justifying the need for online dating: accessibility and availability. This catalogue culture (using a term coined by my colleague here [link to Cait’s blog]) has spoilt us into thinking we need and want options. All of the options. For the most part, I like options because having options means having control (my neurosis knows no bounds).
Without a doubt, there is an element of superficiality with regards to dating apps but aren’t we a superficial species living in superficial times? Whether you meet someone out on the town or on Tinder, the attractiveness factor will still have its say. For me, the selling point is having the pick of the litter whilst lounging in my pyjamas in the comfort of my own home. No need to doll up and spend hours in a bar waiting for your knight in shining armour, actively avoiding forced conversations and unwanted drinks. It’s so much easier to end interactions in the early stages, especially when it’s over the phone. Does this make me anti-social or a recluse? Maybe. From a safety point of view, chatting to someone via an app, getting to know them and forming a pseudo-relationship before meeting up – provided you do the necessary social media stalking – is equally as cautious as traditional means.
Times are changing, and they have been since the very start of civilisation. And I’m of the belief that resisting change won’t preserve time, it only forces us backwards as a society. I don’t deny there being any risks involved when it comes to using dating apps such as Tinder, but as technology has advanced, so have our street smarts. Internet dating has come so far since the nineties and, despite peoples’ reservations; it seems to be the way forward. Maybe it’s not for everybody, and that’s okay – face to face interactions will always trump digital ones. But, at the very least, the apps expedite the usual trivialities and get things going (whatever those “things” will be).