Among Americans who identify themselves as “single and looking,” 38 percent say they’ve used a dating site or app to try to meet a match. But 21 percent of plugged-in Americans still think that “people who use online dating sites are desperate.” (In 2005, 29 percent of them said so.) Even 13 percent of people who date online consider themselves desperate. Though online dating has become normalized, it’s still seen as a little sad.
Or consider that doing something that is “still seen as a little sad,” doesn’t mean people will stop doing it. People consider speed dating, singles nights, getting fixed up with this very nice guy, to be a “little sad” and those activities continue to occur. So will online dating.
Anecdotally, in 2005 I was two years out of college and nobody in my peer group was using, or would admit to using an online dating site. Today, a single friend not using an online dating site is the exception, not the rule. The questions is not: are you using an online dating site? The question is: which online dating site are you using?
I suspect this trend will keep going. That in five or ten years, once you finished high school and college ( where you are surrounded by like minded peers) not meeting someone online will be a rare and odd moment, akin to meeting someone at a bar has been for the past few generations.
They (online dating sites) assume that we can just plug our metadata into a computer, run it through an algorithm, scroll through a list of prospects sorted by the mathematical possibility that we’ll get along, and find someone. That’s just not how human relationships work—not on the Internet and not off. That’s particularly true for the 54 percent of online daters who have encountered a match they felt “seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile.”
While it is true people lie about themselves online, the reason a little more than half of online daters have met someone who “seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile,” is more due to the fact online daters can meet an incredible amount of people and when you meet lots of people there is greater chance someone will seriously misrepresent him or herself. In real life, at bars and parties, people misrepresent themselves as well. What percentage of people have met someone in real life who seriously misrepresented themselves? That would be 100 percent.
Hess believes Tinder, a smartphone app that connects users through their Facebook profile is the future. “(It) means that the dudes and ladies you’re meeting through the app are representing themselves roughly similarly to how they’re doing so on more public forms of social media.”
I’ve used Tinder. Its fun, it’s quick, and it usually leads nowhere. You start chatting with someone you think is attractive from a few facebook pictures, but otherwise know nothing about them. Mock OKCupid and Match all you want, but those essays and questions give out quite a bit of information about potential dates. Deciding whether to date someone from a few pics and text messages is a lot riskier.
Hess imagines that one day our facebook, twitter, google plus (get serious) will be linked seamlessly to our online dating profile. “….we will feel less incentivized to segregate our online romantic dealings from our digital business connections and social spaces.” This will likely never happen because people, especially women, rightly fear letting total strangers have access to their online identity. Its bad enough getting rude messages on OKCupid, where you are just a clever user name and pictures. It’d be much worse if anyone who wanted could find out all about you just because you wanted to date online.
As much as I’m unembarrassed by online dating and will talk about it with friends and occasionally will even let spoken-for friends view the ever changing sea of potential thumbnail sized dates, I very rarely let friends see the short essays I’ve written for my online dating profile. It feel too intimate and embarrassing to let friends see how I’ve tried to sell myself to the women of OKCupid. Yes, I realize total strangers are reading these essays.
People will continue to keep their online dating profiles separate from the rest of their online lives. It’ll be something to reactivate whenever a relationship ends. And people will start romantic relationships online more often without their online dating profile as well. Through Twitter or 4chan or whatever else becomes popular. Just like people start dating IRL in grocery stores and bookstores, as well as bars and clubs. There is a brave new world out there.