Tinder. OkCupid. Match.
These are the ways we meet others. Everyone has used them, and most of us actively use them. But it raises some good questions. When did we move away from face-to-face interaction. And furthermore, why?
When was the last time you asked someone on a date, or someone asked you on a date, that you met in public? Someone you'd never met previously? The answer for some is probably, "never." Just a decade ago, it was the norm. You may even think that it would be downright weird for someone to strike up a conversation with you in public, much less ask you on a date. But why is this? What makes us hide behind our screens? Not only in dating, but with any interaction?
First and foremost, I feel that online interaction helps to remove the "guessing game." If someone doesn't respond, you know they aren't interested. You don't need to wonder. And on the other hand, if they do respond, you know there is at least an interest in talking more. This is key to the new way of meeting people. You don't really have to wonder.
Next, and coming off the previous point, there is little to fear by "putting yourself out there." You can hide behind your screen. Ask any one of your friends to go talk to a stranger, or ask them on a date, and the likely response will be "no way!" or something similar. The technology available to us helps to alleviate this fear because it is easier to send a message than approach someone in person. It's scary to talk to someone new, and doing it online makes it easier.
Another factor in the equation is that not only is it scary to talk to new people, but by doing it online, we can hide the things about ourselves that make it scary. Our own flaws can be hidden. Take a picture from a certain angle. Use a filter. Or just don't tell them you have 15 cats and only shower twice a week. All of these self-proclaimed flaws are easily hidden, and that makes us much more confident when "putting ourselves out there."
But aside from just dating, even our regular interactions with others has moved online. Instead of making the trip to a friend's house, we may just text, or skype. And we're satisfied with it. We're able to be in constant communication with others via our handy smartphones. Take school dances as an example of the trend. They've fallen off in popularity over the past decade, to the point many high schools only have homecoming and prom dances. Some just Prom. With our constant and easy methods of communication available at all times just aren't necessary for students to get interaction outside of school.
A friend of mine told me recently that he'd met someone – in person. They struck up a conversation and really hit it off, but it was the first time that had ever happened to him. He also went on to disclose that every one of their conversations which had progressed their relationship, had been through text. Sure, they had went on dates, but the tough conversations, the ones where you fear judgement or rejection, happened online.
We live in an age of near limitless possibility. Thoughts like curing cancer or AIDS, replacing damaged limbs with robotic ones, or going to Mars, seem right around the corner. We can learn at an exponential rate unprecedented to any previous generation. Just ask Google. But in this age of lightning fast communication, our we losing our connection to others? We're more connected, but less. The same goes for online dating. We have more options, and less to fear, but we're losing the ability to connect in the real world.
I don't know about you, but I may try a little offline dating next time.