dating in the digital age

(swipe right for a Not-So-Great-Love Story)

I’m pretty sure that I don’t know how to date.

I’ve had what you could define as a few “typical” relationships: some boyfriends, casual flings, guys that said they’d call, but never did, boys that became borderline stalkers — the usual spectrum of potential romantic interests.

It’s not so much that I lack experience, but more along the lines that I really have no clue what I’m doing.

You’re probably thinking, it’s not that hard — two people meet, they like each other and continue to see one another until they either breakup, seriously commit or choose to get married — simple right?

Yes, it should be that simple. Yet, in today’s modern dating atmosphere things have become what I consider to be complicated. With the introduction of dating applications, we have drastically changed the way that we meet one another. We have essentially altered the human experience, widening the gap between meaningful, organic interactions toward a world of calculated, handpicked romance.

Maybe I Believe in Destiny?

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to meet people in real life. This isn’t to say that the dating online doesn’t work for some people, I have had plenty of friends and acquaintances recount their tales of love through the internet — but I’m not convinced that it works for me.

It’s probably because I’m all about the story — the writer in me can’t properly articulate a well crafted tale based on the algorithmic action of swiping left or right. The idea of my relationship thrives off of its conception — where and how we met and what actions transpired to turn this friendly encounter into something more.

To me, the idea of meeting someone in real life as a result of my daily actions speaks to the person I am. It allows me to realize that the decisions and choices I make have purpose and reason — I suppose in a subtle way, it’s a note to my belief in destiny.

I can admit I’m a romantic, looking at the world through rosy perspective — but I do think that through the mess that is life, people have a way of finding one another. Does that happen by the way of technological dating? I’m not quite convinced.

Dating Apps Take Away the Mystery

The main issue I find with dating online is the calculated nature of it. Using a dating app, you are sifting through hundreds of profiles in a short period of time. With most applications being visually triggered, a few pictures and very little personal information, you are essentially choosing someone based only on the way that they look. It is vanity at its finest.

Once you match with one or several potential suitors, the next step is to strike up a conversation. An act that can make you want to crawl out of your skin, initiating inner dialogues that go something like this:

I think I’ll start with Hey, how are you? Will that be coming off too strong? What if he gets scared off? I don’t want to be embarrassed.. Maybe I’ll just wait for him to start the conversation…

This isn’t just the case for women, men are just as culpable of being nervous to make the move. And why is that so? We have situated ourselves behind two screens, removing any inkling of the awkward, discomforts of human to human interaction. Yet, we still find ourselves playing chicken?

But let’s say you finally muster up the confidence to reach out. You talk for a bit and eventually decide to meet up. You coodinate place and time, looking forward to your new encounter with a stranger. Maybe this dating thing isn’t so bad after all?

In the days of technology free dating, you met someone and had the ability to get to know them in person. There were no background checks or social media stalking prior to the first date. You didn’t have the skewed luxury of learning everything you possibly can from their online presence before ever talking with them face to face.

With online dating, the process of curating our love interests sucks the mystery out of the experience. We select and choose with such precision that we leave no room for the unexpected — no possibility that the person we may meet is much cooler in person than on the Internet.

Are We More Lonely Than Ever?

The idea of dating online was conceptualized to make the process easier, more accessible in a busy world. It was targeted to the people who didn’t have the time to meet someone, for the people whose daily schedules didn’t leave room for romance.

The idea in its infancy appears to be with good intention, but as humans when given an inch we take a mile. With the abundance of available people, the possibility of always finding someone better — we have become addicted to idea the endless choices. Essentially, brainwashed to think that greener grass can be found in only just one swipe away.

In a pursuit for better relationships, we have created an adverse affect of aggressive loneliness. We go out less and log on more. Finding ourselves sitting at home on a weekend night, carefully selecting who we want to meet. We close ourselves off from the opportunity of natural encounters because we can’t seem to loosen the hold of our devices.

If we’re this technologically dependent now, what will dating look like in 5, 10, 15 years? Will random occurrences with perfect strangers be a thing of the past? Will love be expressed solely through our screens? I don’t think I want to know the answer.

And so, what if my idea of dating doesn’t fit into this new wave of applications and online profiles? I still hold on to the idea that organic encounters exist, that love can be found outside the realms of my device. Does this make me an unsuitable candidate for romantic entanglements? Not at all. It only makes the idea of meeting someone the old fashioned way, in the movements of daily life that more exhilarating.