I’m going to try and write an uplifting post this time. This delightful blog, Musings and Amusings, documenting and celebrating cutting-edge developments in science and technology, is a good example of posts that are not just a series of internet rants.
I shall admit that my blogging is mainly ranting, perhaps because it’s all too easy to do. It’s much harder to think of happier things than bad things, see what’s wrong rather than what’s right, partly because our brains are predisposed to look at the negatives.
Also, we are strongly conditioned to do so.
I don’t know why, maybe it’s to protect us from danger or keep us striving for improvement. If people were too contented, they wouldn’t be driven to make more and more money.
Either way, this was originally intended to be a post lamenting the childishness that online dating can drive us to, and the depths of human stupidity: the selfishness of human interaction.
It was inspired by this story I read in the London Metro about an IT specialist called Kishore Nimmala who was arrested after snatching his date’s Blackberry. He claims he did it because she tried to leave without paying for any of their drinks and he was trying to “get her attention.”
I shall leave out tongue-in-cheek discussion of the social skills of IT workers and gender roles.
I was going to say that online dating is too prescriptive, and too desperate. Focusing too hard on certain things means you will never get them. The ephemeral nature of romance means the harder you try, the less it appears.
Dating online fosters the illusion that a relationship with a complete stranger – who has nonetheless provided a detailed personality specification – is more likely to work than one with someone randomly attracted.
It encourages the commodification of love and the futile perfectionism of relationships, and instils a fear that you cannot make it alone.
Instead, I will examine this phenomenon in a more positive light. The world has changed immensely since the days of “courting” when your grandparents met as teenagers and were married for sixty years. The digital generation have adapted to its hydra-like incarnations and online dating is one of the results.
London often inspires feelings of anger and foolish actions (they were in Leicester Square), so Mr Nimmala’s behaviour may not have wholly arisen due to the nature of online dating. Though it affords an element of anonymity knowing you never have to encounter that person again, perhaps he considers abusive behaviour appropriate towards anyone.
Partly due to this rapidly growing industry, we no longer have to rely on blind luck or the charity of friends – or, indeed, drinking alcohol in clubs and bars – in order to meet someone new. It’s a lot easier and cheaper than going to a bar, sometimes. The social media dating app ‘Tinder’ allows for click-and-scroll – if two people like each other on the basis of viewing five profile pictures of the other, they can meet up for a date.
Without online dating, you’ve got to hope you meet someone before you leave school or university, or the volume of people you meet on a daily basis will be drastically reduced and so will your chances of meeting “the one”.
Interestingly enough, bespoke matchmaking services are on the rise. They are comprised of experts who use various criteria to match up their members with a “perfect” partner, including DNA matching and, of course, birth charts.
Online dating can be considered liberating for the modern singleton, especially for women who have traditionally tended to wait for men to make the first advance. The dater is more empowered; with the chance that mixed signals will result on disappointment on one side much more diminished. It represents the democratisation of dating, since attracting someone new no longer solely depends on an individual’s (sometimes dubious) flirting prowess or good looks.
It helps people who are shy or maybe unused to the dating game after the breakup of a long marriage. People with difficult facts to disclose, such as an incurable disease or the fact they are a long-term carer, are afforded a screening process, saving difficult conversations later down the line.
So, there are many benefits to online dating, as well as some dangers. Would I use these services personally?
If I were single, which I haven’t been since university, I’d like to think I’d be brave enough trust to chance.
I am well aware this was still a rant.
I think we are all capable of being happy alone, and the relentless drive towards unification and marriage is a bit unnecessary. In my opinion, it’s really important to learn to live by yourself, and celebrate the greatness of your own life.
The internet has many more possibilities for fulfilment than just dating, such as forums and websites to help you connect with like-minded people, free tutorials to help you learn almost anything, huge repositories of information and, of course, Google Earth. There are countless things I don’t and, most likely, never will understand.
I’d still like to think I use it for so much more than trawling Facebook, though not as much as I should.
Believing you can stay with one partner forever is probably a phantom dream, and a bit of a recipe for unhappiness. Online dating can be great for meeting new people, having more fun, and more helpful for some than others, but I’m tempted to say that’s about it.
So I couldn’t write a happy blog post, though I did try. Maybe next time.