Since it has become pretty clear to me over the past couple of months that the success of online dating really depends on the person using it, I wanted to find out if it could actually harm the individual using it. One of the most cited benefits of online dating is that you get to know a little about the person before you actually go out on a date with them. You’ll know their height, weight, occupation, likes and dislikes, whether they want children, and so on. But this desire to know so much before actually meeting the person can drive a person to an unhealthy level of Internet “creeping” (McGuire). “When you hook up with a guy through friends or at a party, you might Google or Facebook him. But unless you’re seriously deranged, you probably won’t find yourself shadowing him, watching his every interaction with the opposite sex” (McGuire). Online dating changes this since that shadowing becomes so much more possible. But just like everything else in the world, from ice cream to pizza, anything in moderation is okay.
There’s a great and funny commercial for AT&T that demonstrates how easy online dating makes it to find information about people. While it is a bit of an exaggeration, I think it demonstrates really well the capabilities the Internet gives us in this realm. Here it is:
Another dangerous downside of online dating is that it can make users extremely picky (McGuire). Daters can generally afford to do this because there are just so many potentials online (McGuire). While it definitely isn’t a good idea to settle for any guy that comes along, eliminating a prospect for reasons like “the shirt he’s wearing in his picture is ugly” can result in passing up someone who’s really pretty great (McGuire).
Sammy*, a 22 year-old college student knows from first-hand experience how online dating can make a person extraordinarily choosy. She used OkCupid for two months and then switched to Match. She began using online dating just for fun and to explore, like many of the other women I’ve spoken to. She was excited by how many men were really out there and with every message she received she got “an intense confidence boost.” As the weeks went on, however, she started to ignore men that upon later reflection she realized she should have gone out with. “There might have been one small thing I saw on their profile that normally wouldn’t bother me but I know now that those small things definitely weren’t big deals.” Since then Sammy has switched her online dating to Match and is having much more success. She has learned to differentiate between the silly things and those that really matter.
“AT&T TV Commercial – ‘Speed Dating’ iPhone 4S 3x Faster.” YouTube. 13 March 2012. Web. 17 March 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s9_pi9vQbs>.
McGuire, Judy. “The Downside of Online Dating.” CNN. 21 May 2009. Web. 17 April 2012. <http://articles.cnn.com/2009-05-21/living/tf.downside.online.dating_1_dating-online-lightning?_s=PM:LIVING>.
*Names have been changed for privacy