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Modern Romance

by Samantha Brett 4 years ago in dating

The Influence of Online Dating on Relationships

Before the emergence of the internet, society was vastly different from the society we live in today. Without certain technologies, everyday tasks took time and energy. The goal and purpose of most technologies we have today is to make our lives easier. However, in making life easier, we have altered our society in ways that most people do not notice or think about. Although the idea itself is conclusive and obvious, technology’s effect on modern society is an idea that is argued about and debated often. Young people around the world have a deep love and interest in technology, while many scholars believe that technology can be detrimental to one’s health. One specific aspect of technology that is highly discussed is online dating. Following the invention of Match.com and eHarmony, a new platform called Tinder has arisen. Tinder works by scrolling through option after option by swiping right or left. By swiping left on a person, you discard their profile, rejecting a possibility of getting a match. Swiping right means that you are interested in that person and there is a possibility of matching with that person. A match happens when both users swipe right on each others’ profiles. Tinder is extremely controversial itself. Some feel it is superficial, while some feel Tinder is a fast, easy way to meet new people. Online dating, however used by millions of people around the world at varying ages, is debated by many.

After the invention of the computer and the commonality of the use of the internet increased, the first online dating website was created. This website, opened in 1995, is called Match.com and now has over 23 million members. Today, one out of every five couples in committed relationships met online. In other words, 20 percent of couples have met from finding one another somewhere on the internet. The reason online dating is used so frequently and by so many people is due to the fact that online dating is easy. And it is by far easier than traditional dating. Getting dressed up for an hour and going out to a bar with your friends only to attract no one of interest seems to be a massive waste of time. Now, all anyone has to do is take out their iPhone and swipe through 60 Tinder profiles while waiting for their number to get called at the deli. Another reason Tinder has become such a huge phenomenon is because it provides the user with thousands more options. When someone goes to a bar there are about 30 possible partners. However, 29 of those possibilities will most likely only offer a rejection. On Tinder there are thousands of possible partners and out of the 120 people that were swiped right, 30 of those people swiped right too. This allows for a better chance to find a partner and get a date. Additionally, Tinder does not notify people of their rejection, meaning you are unaware when somebody swipes left on your profile. In doing this, Tinder protects the self-esteem of its users, while traditional dating does not. With traditional dating, a risk of rejection is always present. Discussing the topic of immense choice, comedian and actor Aziz Ansari wrote a book about love in the digital age called Modern Romance: An Investigation. In an article he had written about his book, Ansari describes the benefits of online dating. Along with noting the benefit of having a multitude of choices, Ansari found that many people liked online dating because of the way you could filter your options. For example, if your dream man was a Jewish lawyer who loves John Mayer, plays the drums, and has brown hair, that man is relatively attainable. While many people believe that having so many options at our fingertips is a positive thing, others find that the increase of choice creates problems with ultimate satisfaction.

This idea that problems arise through increased options is called the “paradox of choice.” This idea came about through Barry Schwartz, professor, psychologist, and author of the book The Paradox of Choice. In his book, Schwartz describes in depth how the paradox of choice works and how it affects relationships. Summarizing his main ideas, Schwartz states that although people believe that having a multitude of options makes for a happier life, in reality too many choices can lead to a depressive and unhappy state. While Schwartz first brought about this notion of too many choices, many scholars and authors, such as Sherry Turkle and Aziz Ansari, back up his claims, as well as use his claims to back up their own ideas. Within the subject of relationships, the idea of too many choices becomes a major issue. On sites such as Tinder and Match.com, there are thousands upon thousands of potential partners. Some may look at this as positive, but the problem is that there will always be a better option. Even people in relationships find themselves drawn to online dating sites because they see a slight flaw in their current partner and immediately try to find someone “better.” However, the paradox of choice is not the only downside to online dating. Online dating has morphed into a majorly superficial way of choosing a partner. A site like Tinder, for example, shows a picture and a brief description of around 120 characters. Based on what you see, you either like them and swipe right or swipe left and discard them. According to a website called Statistic Brain, around 49 percent of people said that physical characteristics are the most important factor in choosing a life partner. The major issue with this quick choosing of possible dates is the idea of a virtual identity. Online people can become whoever they choose to be. Normally, the person someone chooses to be is their ideal self. This idea is talked about by Sherry Turkle in a journal submission while she was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The journal submission titled “Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs” discusses the virtual gaming worlds and the ways that people use virtual realities to create a different self-image. Applying this idea to online dating, people can easily alter their height, age, income, etc. to project the person they wish they were more like. What Turkle doesn’t discuss, however, is the idea that virtual identity and superficiality of online dating creates a sense of security for the user. By not being your true self, being rejected doesn’t sting as bad as when you are your true self. In real life, there is a sense of danger because potential partners can see your real self and if those potential partners reject your real self, that hurts much more than someone rejecting your virtual self.

Virtual versions of oneself is a widespread form of self-protective behavior. However, this behavior doesn’t always benefit the user. Although putting a profile on Tinder that masks the user’s real self can protect from the pain of rejection, if a real relationship is formed on the basis of the user’s virtual self, then that relationship’s foundations are built on a lie. Subsequently, that user’s partner is not in a relationship with the user themself but with the user’s ideal self, the virtual version. As previously stated, one out of five couples in committed relationships met online. The phenomenon today is that a significant portion of that fifth of relationships could have been created on a foundation of superficial lies and deception. However, theses lies may come out almost immediately or not at all. If they don’t come out quickly, it could cause long-term issues within these relationships, leading to unhappy marriages and divorce. All of these relationships are at risk of failure due to a foundation of lies. The largest issue is that along with marriage, these relationships will eventually result in children, and when issues within the couple arise, these children will be raised in separated or troubled households.

To prevent this issue, further research needs to be done. Because so many people lie on online dating sites, surveys of each online user should be taken. These anonymous surveys should ask questions along the lines of “How many statements about yourself are untrue on your profile?” and “What type of statements have you altered?” This will give insight into how deep the virtual identity altering has been occurring. Although the perfect solution to this problem has yet to be discovered, there are ways to prevent these situations. Creating awareness of the deception that occurs on online dating sites, being more cautious about who you talk to on online dating sites, and online dating sites creating a platform for people to report those who they have found to lie on their profile. In taking these steps, the road to a safer and less deceptive online dating world will be in our society’s future.

dating

Samantha Brett

19. Blogger. Student.

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