Don't date digitally, dummy

Jacob Commentary

Remember back when parents told their children not to talk to strangers, not to take anything from strangers, not to get in a vehicle with a stranger and especially to never go to a stranger’s house? Treat them politely, but you don’t know them and shouldn’t trust them.

Fast forward a few decades and Internet culture has literally subverted these principles and turned them into a very profitable online venture. It’s called online dating.

According to the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites and 5 percent of Americans in a committed romantic relationship say they met their partner through an online dating site. This is literally millions of people. Further Pew research shows that 59 percent of Americans think online dating is a good way to meet people. Only 23 percent of Americans in 2015 believe people on online dating sites are desperate compared to 29 percent in 2005.

It sounds like a great idea at first: Talk to people from afar, get to know them before you ever meet and potentially avoid having bad, embarrassing and outright creepy dates. Relationships have been turned into a game of online Russian Roulette called online dating and I would like to say, it sucks.

For some reason, random women have decided that their face with a Snapchat filter over it is somehow more attractive than just a shot of their face. No, it isn’t. Pictures of yourself in a hot costume on Halloween? That works fine, because it is Halloween. Putting a digital Minnie Mouse or a bumble-bee mask over your face isn’t cute. It is weird to browse through women that look like they have their faces painted like outdated cartoon characters because it makes you feel like you are surfing through a bunch of pre-teen girls.

Thanks to the nature of the Internet, dating has been boiled down to a lot of superficial aspects and because of this, people lie on their profiles. According to research conducted by Catalina L. Toma, an assistant professor in the department of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about 81 percent of people misrepresent their height, weight or age in their online profiles. Now, a bit of embellishment is not a big deal. A little white lie about a few inches, pounds or years is excusable. It is almost expected. But when the 35-year-old person online turns out to be a 55-year-old person in real life they are no longer telling little white lies and probably can’t be trusted. If your profile says 5 feet, 7 inches and you are actually 5 feet, 5 inches, it isn’t a big deal, but if your profile says you weigh 140 pounds but your actual weight is 240 pounds, the lie is being taken to a whole new level.

Now, lets think about this for a minute. Trust and honesty are two of the most important pillars of a strong relationship. If you’re building an entire relationship off of lies from the first moment the foundation is flawed, and structures with poor foundations rarely stand the test of time.

These are not the only drawbacks. eHarmony, one of the oldest and most popular dating sites, flat out refuses to match you with anyone if you’re gay. There are also numerous claims online of eHharmony refusing to match atheists because of their lack of belief in god. eHarmony claims it is due to the matching algorithms and nothing more. But I have personally been rejected by eHarmony five times, and the only category I have filled out consistently is the religion preference. Take that as you will.

And finally, according to Pewresearch.org, 43 percent of people who use online dating sites have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. This means that two-out-of-five people on dating sites are there to do what? Just check out the scenery? Seems like a huge waste of the other patrons’ time. So theoretically, you could be messaging a person or multiple people that don’t even check their accounts. Isn’t screaming into a void lovely? Doesn’t it make you feel so good? Yeah, me neither.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a long correspondence end with no reason given. I understand it is the Internet and a lot of people think there are no consequences for online actions, but there are. There are people with real emotions attached to those profiles. At least tell someone that you’ve met somebody else.

People turn to online dating for various reasons. Some people don’t have the time to meet anyone in real life, some people like the variety of options and some people, like me, do it because they are painfully awkward around the opposite sex and have a hard time approaching them.

There are people out there seriously trying to find someone online. Some people succeed, some don’t and some are certainly driven insane, but maybe more people should consider these things before they get involved and make everything harder for the rest of us.

Obviously experiences online will vary from person to person. The numbers are not all negative and some people do have positive and successful experiences. Maybe online dating is great for some people but it isn’t for me. I will stick to bookstores, coffee shops, concerts and school.


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