Online dating – the good, the bad, & the truth
I’ve signed up for dating sites a couple of times in my life. Not always in search of love, or a good time, but sometimes for the good of humanity. A couple of years ago I signed up for Match.com to test out their latest app. I didn’t make a bogus profile though, despite dating someone who I loved, but I was completely honest about my field research and made friends that I still happily call my own. This time, it’s more about me almost being 30 and single, and less about research although Amy Webb almost changed my mind. After watching her TED Talk on how she hacked online dating, I almost considered changing up my strategy when it came to online dating. The talk is interesting – check it out.
Last year I signed up for a site called Coffee Meets Bagel – my favorite thus far. The whole idea is that you get a daily bagel, in hopes of you both grabbing some coffee together. It’s cute, very simple to use, and the quality of people on it have exceeded any of my expectations. Many of them have advanced degrees, careers, and are into doing social good and venturing in the outdoors. Actually, a funny observation that I made using various sites and apps is that many people portray themselves to be super active and outdoorsy, and animal lovers – so you will run into a plethora of pics of people with animals too big to be a pet – that’s the latest trend I hear so make sure to ride an elephant, kiss a dolphin or play catch with a seal before you sign up for one.
I signed up for Tinder in April, after a night out with friends. In April, I was still living in Durham, NC where I had the wonderful experience of barely dating for the 10 months that I was there. There are many contributing factors but I’ll save that story for my girlfriends. After their encouragement, and no I was not held up at gunpoint to sign up, I downloaded the app and started flicking away. I signed up for Tinder, not knowing much about it, and like many shallow dating apps, got to swipe my boredom away in hopes of finding a twitter-like blurb and picture to peak my interest. I also saw how many of my classmates were on the site which led me to swipe with pride because I knew no judgment could come from it (although I doubt anyone would care).
I didn’t post any group shots or NC-17 rated pictures but I bumped into many who did. That was annoying. I interacted with some cool people, especially during my travels abroad, but I also ran into ‘wtf’ scenarios that should only be read about in books, or seen on terrible reality TV. I got offered services I knew I’d be arrested for, got spoken to in ways a mother would cry and eventually just got tired of the nonsense. That is why I quit and closed all of the sites/apps that I had. My byline was something to the point of me being an insatiable sapiosexual, who was fascinated with the science of happiness and the art of connection. Sapiosexual has ‘sex’ in it, but goodness, it is not a sexual position – someone asked me that. I was also virtually scolded for being on Tinder and looking for intelligence – as if it was only for random, emotion-less hookups – the nerve! It led me to reevaluate why I was actually on those sites/apps – and if in fact I really did enjoy the art of connection.
As humans, we crave connection. As a middle child, I crave attention. I was getting it. It was fun. But boy do I enjoy talking and being in a roomful of people. It’s difficult to feed off someone else’s energy when all you’re getting is a beep and some words to read. While the best part of online dating, in my opinion, is being exposed to people you probably won’t date (like other cultures/races), I think it takes away from the beauty and magic of making meaningful connections with people.
Ultimately, if you’re not comfortable seeing the selection of men in your area, then don’t join Tinder. I think Coffee Meets Bagel is sort of getting this online dating thing right because if you and your bagel mutually like each other, you automatically get texted and instantly connect. It leaves little room for ambiguity or awkwardness. It also only connects you with people who you share a mutual friend with – which is nice if you think you have a good network on FB. On the other hand, Tinder will pull up anyone around you – people you may not want to know you’re on Tinder, or people who you are not interested in – but care too much about to admit to them. It can get awkward – very quickly. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll go back on some of those sites – the number of press releases I receive on online dating show me there will be many yet to come. Today’s press release came from “Tinder Done For You”, another service showcasing the fact that dating can be further outsourced. For only $375 (or the amount that I spend on my monthly groceries), you can have a wingwoman do all the back and forth between you and the sea of women waiting to meet you. This service is for men – obviously – and I wish I were joking, but I’m not.
If you want to read more about online dating – feel free to check out Justin Kelly McClure’s site, Online Dating Critic or his book “Pray Your Kids Are Ugly” – to further delve into what being super-duper connected to technology is actually doing to us. It definitely made me want to go back to the good ol' days of meeting people and spending real time with them.