There’s a seismic shift afoot in the dating game; with the expanded access that social media grants us, it seems that online stalking is the new wave.
How we as a society meet our prospective significant others – or, indeed, significant others for the evening – is changing. This is probably not new information to you. Heck, just take a look at your preferred app store’s top charts and you will see dating apps serving markets gay, straight, and everything in between. Of course, it did take the gays to really get the idea of shopping for human meat down pat.
If that’s not enough for you, you can even tweak your searches to a particular religion, a particular race, or – disappointingly – even a particular income bracket (yes, really: https://www.elitesingles.com.au). So, it should come as no surprise to you that the way people view the world of online dating has shifted dramatically as the Internet has evolved from a collection of high-pitched screeches to full-fledged fiber.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 59% of Internet users in the U.S. believe that “online dating is a good way to meet people,” up 15% since 2005. What’s more, 38% of Americans who identify as “single and looking” – and hopefully not misunderstanding the “survey” part of this online dating survey – say they have used a dating site or app to try to meet their one and only.
Of course, things are never black and white (unless you set your dating preference otherwise) and, despite the rising tide of rabid swiping, 21% of connected Americans still believe that “people who use online dating sites are desperate.” In fact, 13% of the above “online daters” agree with that self-damning sentiment.
So, why all the stigma?
While modern day dating services rely on integration with our infinitely harder to fake social media profiles, classic mainstays like Match.com and OkCupid or any of their myriad clones still feature profiles that are almost entirely detached from reality.
Indeed, it is the necessity of creating our own self-advertisements in the form of an online personal that perhaps most personifies the stereotypes of online dating: the semi-anonymous, algorithmically-calculated process of creating an Internet persona.
Take it from someone who met their partner on Tinder – being able to talk to only the people you really want to talk to takes a big headache out of the dating process. A big, stalker-y, unsolicited dick pic of a headache.
While it is significantly harder to create a fake profile on Facebook – despite what you may think when reading through the comments on any of your favorite news outlets – it is all too easy to create a less-than-realistic identity on a service that relies upon you answering questions with your best rehearsed lines.
Think of it like an auction you’re making for an old, worn-out television: sure, it may only power on when the weather is just right and it may only access two channels when it is on, but how can you expect any clicks if you don’t dress that up a little bit in the description? It’s not “used,” it’s “pre-loved.” It’s not “faulty,” it’s “eccentric” and a “conversation starter.” It doesn’t smell like “rotting electronics,” it has a “vintage musk.”
Ridiculous as it may sound, this sort of thing is endemic to the dating scene. Just ask the 54% of people who encountered a match they felt “seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile.”
If the fake-ness of the profiles wasn’t enough, it is perhaps the ability for users to be inundated with unsolicited profiles – the creepy and the not-so-creepy alike – that has also earned online dating its place in the hall of shame. Take it from someone who met their partner on Tinder – being able to talk to only the people you really want to talk to takes a big headache out of the dating process. A big, stalker-y, unsolicited dick pic of a headache.
Unsurprisingly, it is women who are affected most by the creepy and the nasty with 42% of female online daters reporting “uncomfortable or bothersome contact.” 17% of males also reported receiving this contact. But say none of that bothers you. Maybe you don’t mind the spontaneity of strangers appearing in your inbox. Maybe you actually like a bit of creativity when you’re trawling through page after page of profiles. When it comes to actually finding the person who is right for you, even after putting up with all of the above, you may not even be matched to someone you have any kind of chemistry with.
Also on The Big Smoke
- January 4th: The day we return to online dating
- Modern love is a strange percentile (and other dating figures)
- Dating dangerously: Love match apps lead to increase in violent crime
Sure, some websites offer information on where a prospective partner stands on the legality of things like same-sex marriage (which should be a big warning flag to the kind of person you’re getting involved with should that stance be a no), but there is nothing to actually say that the two of you will actually get along.
Compare to the current industry leader, Tinder, where not only do you need to actually give someone the proverbial thumbs up before any communication starts, but where subsequent communication is short and sweet and an opportunity to test the conversational waters. After all, you can’t expect any kind of chemistry if you can’t even hold a communication. There’s only so many times you can ask someone how their day was before you accept that you never really cared in the first place.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway from all of this is the evolving world of communication we live in. As social media continues its domination of our lives, we will start to see our professional lives become all the more entwined with our personal lives.
While apps like Tinder use our profiles to personalize our personals, it is very easy to foresee a time where our flirtatious flexings are not bound to specifically targeted services. Just as it is very common for businesses to conduct meetings over social media or for corporations to use Facebook as just another stream of advertising, so too can we expect the rampant courting of friend lists to become standard.
The social media homunculus will continue to tighten its grip over the world we live in, paving way for a future that is either beautifully convenient and eternally connected or hopelessly bleak and forever enslaved.
First casualty: online dating sites.
Second: the online dating market writ large.
We hardly knew ye.