Is the internet bringing us together, or driving us apart? This question makes it necessary for us to look at the general phenomenon of online dating and its pros and cons.
Online dating is a $700 million dollar industry. According to the article Online Dating and Relationships, one in ten Americans have used online dating sites or mobile apps, and many know someone who has used it and met a significant other. Attitudes towards online dating have been changing. It used to be thought that it was just for ‘losers’, but now it is becoming more socially accepted as a legitimate way to meet people to date, have relationships with or simply to ‘hook up’.
The rise of this phenomenon in our society makes us look at the causes. Why are there so many lonely people? Why is it hard to meet a potential date or partner? Life is busy, we are so work oriented that there is little time for relaxation and socializing. It seems demographically that there are more women than available men. The nature of relationships is changing, as family values change. People have more freedom to explore what they want, but they often don’t know what that is. In this way the Internet is shaping expectations, boundaries, and kinds of relationships. This is an example of the key concept of media, that The Media Construct Reality. The landscape of dating and its parameters and possibilities are essentially created by the internet.
A good way to look at the question whether or not the internet is bringing us together, is to apply McLuhan’s tetrad. Internet dating enhances the opportunity for people to connect and meet potentially like minded matches for the possibility of relationships of various kinds. Given that there can be little time or energy to invest in meeting and dating the old fashioned way due to the demands of every day life, internet dating provides a great service. It is convenient, easy, cheap and can bring people together in a positive way.
Using the internet for dating can eliminate the awkwardness of meeting and going through anxiety of first dates, due to its ability to allow you to screen and sort of get to know the person before you step outside your door.
Internet dating reverses the actual spontaneous acts of meeting people by chance and the excitement that can bring. Love at first sight is not a strong instant but on the internet meeting is dragged out and you are really dealing with someone sight unseen. With Internet dating as a new norm, energy, money, time are not spent on going out and engaging in group activities or pursuing interests that would put us in contact with like minded people that have date potential. Which I think is a much healthier way to meet people. People can become less socially skilled and the art of relating can be lost.
One could argue that what is retrieved is the slow art of romance since things develop over time on the internet. With our lifestyles it is easier to flirt, talk, engage online at any hour of the day. Online dating does retrieve the concept and practice of dating as opposed to just one night stands.
Ironically what is made obsolete, is the act of engaging physically and personally in real time in a natural way. Communicating can be digital making the art of talking intimately a thing of the past. This is not a good thing as people can get away with being irresponsible in how they handle things that need to be spoken about. Breakups by text are not cool! Internet dating is trying to achieve bringing people together but its very nature can mean that people are driven apart as they never really have to meet or enter into any meaningful relationships. The connections can stay virtual and may never be realized. Which means the whole thing can be an avoidance of the very thing it is intended to enhance.
I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable meeting anyone on the internet and social media. A lot of my friends use Tinder. It’s an app that teens use to be matched with people they find attractive. This can lead to a chat that may or may not end up in meeting in person. It’s not a site to look for a relationship or even a date. I think its mostly used for quick hook up connections mostly just for sexual activity.
There are a lot of concerns and potential risks of danger involved with using internet dating. Many women have been victimized emotionally, financially, and sexually due to dating sites. Lonely people driven by the need to connect are easy prey. You really don’t know who you are dealing with. Many people misrepresent themselves. Married people surf the sites saying they are single. False information is given in profiles. Even photos may be misleading. These negative features of online dating support the argument that it can create more separation and is driving us apart. Women who have been taken advantage of can be very damaged psychologically and this separating from themselves is a sad effect. People using dating sites and apps should be cautious.
There are some tips for playing it safe. For example if a date is set up, arrive separately and meet in public places. Always tell a friend where and when the date is set and check in when it is over. It is good advice also to let relationships grow slowly and most importantly always trust your instincts no matter what!
To deal with the potential risks some dating sites have security tools. True.com is the only site that gives criminal and marital background checks. Match.com allows you to keep your real phone number secret by giving you a temporary dating number.
Being connected to whoever you are in a relationship with online is a way for power politics to be played out without direct communication. Knowing that I have a ‘friend’ on social media, I post things with caution. I check if he is online when I go on Facebook and then get anxious if I see he is and hasn’t messaged me. When my friends send me pictures that involve him it can create distance and anxiety if there is something that I wish I hadn’t seen. On the good side it makes me have to be mature and handle it within myself or find a way to communicate it that makes sure both our needs are met.
There are many pros and cons about internet dating. It can both bring people together and drive people apart. I know a couple who met online, didn’t really hit it off on the first date, gave it a chance and now are married. I also know a couple who had been married a long time with three children and full family life who broke up because the husband was discovered to be on an online dating site. It all depends on the intention of how you want to use the sites, as well as your awareness and attitude.