Online Dating

The dating landscape has drastically evolved over the decades. The ways of finding and expressing love have transformed – from sending love letters physically via paper, to electronic text messages, to now swiping left and right on an app on our phone. It is fairly strange that nowadays chatting and meeting up with strangers via the Internet is regarded as more socially acceptable than asking them out for a coffee while waiting for class in daylight. Internet has changed the rule of dating. For one, it has enlarged the size of dating pool. For those living in the past millennium, they would have had the help of parents and/or mutual friends to find dates if they hadn’t yet found “the one” after university. They were basically swimming in an indoor pool of friendship and familial acquaintances. It was very rare to meet someone outside this circle - although on some exceptional occasions, people did bump into their significant other on the street. But the chances for this romcom-inspired rendezvous are very low compared to having friends and family as the primary option to finding love. Those who are living in this millennium, however, have the luck to swim in the Pacific Ocean of dating pool. Online dating provides us with the chance to chat with strangers via our virtual profiles. We are no longer bound within our parents’ circle of acquaintances - we have more freedom and autonomy in our romantic lives. We could even select and filter the types of people we prefer to see online. In fact, most online dating apps automatically do this using their advanced algorithms as they obtain data from our, say, Facebook or Instagram profiles. They then try to match us with people with whom we share common interests so that we have topics for icebreakers! Online dating apps offer us a sense of “safety” and “confidence”. The virtual nature of the Internet does not demand physical connection - that is until we, or the other person, requests an actual encounter. This means that online daters can conceal themselves behind the screen, which hides their insecurity and boosts their confidence to chat with strangers. In any case, it feels safer to chat with strangers on the app rather than to directly converse with them in a bar. The virtual network and instantaneousness of online dating apps afford us that physical distance with the mentality of being “nearby”. However, the large dating pool online entails a higher chance that we will meet the “weirdos” of the world. This is because the epidemic accessibility of online dating apps means that everyone, including serial killer or rapist, can sign up for the service. Thus, the sense of “safety” offered by online dating apps may be deceptive, especially since 80% of online daters lie on their profiles. Although most deceits consist of only misrepresenting their height, weight or age, we absolutely have to keep a look out for ourselves when we meet strangers online. Online dating has also altered the meaning of dating. A few centuries ago, dating paved the way for reproduction and marriage. A few decades ago, the more progressive society rendered the goal of dating to find love. Now, the ease of finding (and tossing) love has eroded deep human connections. The liberty of swimming in the ocean has been misused to get casual sex with no strings attached, which generates the stigma of online dating apps as mere platforms for “hook-ups”. The provision of many fish in the sea means that monogamy and marriage are no longer the primary goal of dating. It is even safe to say that online dating apps assists the society in adopting a more liberal view of sex, which perhaps undermines the historic meaning of the intercourse altogether. The rampant availability of online dating apps has made the daters lazy and casual, and not only in a sex-related way. Our predecessors used to write love letters with poetic rhymes that require high level of intellect. Some of them had even written songs and played instruments for their beloved ones. Now? The online dating apps have eradicated the needs for those efforts, and if they get too clingy or fussy, we can just swipe them off and ditch them for the “many other fish”. The instantaneous swipe of left and right relies on our subconscious judgment, meaning that we won’t have to put a lot of thought into it. Online dating has revolutionised our efforts in our romantic lives, in a negative way (although granted, some online daters have the cheekiest and funniest pick-up lines I have ever heard in my entire life). Perhaps this is why people who seriously are trying to find “the one” prefer to stay away from online dating. However, one cannot simply defy the fact that online dating offers the possibility of removing the historic obstacles to true love. Distance, time and lack of mutual connections no longer hamper us from swimming in the ocean. There is a high chance that we might bump into some sharks, creeps and perverts on the online dating apps, but it should not deter us from trying to find love on the Internet altogether. It’s because there are some genuine people out there who might just be “the one”. And whilst we are young, what’s life without a little adventure and danger, eh?