Ahhh, the age old question: “Why don’t you try online dating?” I often find myself being asked this and having to justify why I choose not to online date. Apparently, “I don’t want to try dating of any kind” is not an ok answer–it means you’re depressed, anti-social, giving up on life, letting yourself go, blah blah blah. You know, Taylor Swift has gone on record saying she chooses and likes to be alone, so it should be socially acceptable by now. But, for some reason, it’s not, and the approach has to be, “Then you should try [insert suggested dating app/website here].” So, I present you with my argument for, “just no.”
First, I realize that any first impression ever, in person or otherwise, is naturally immediately based on a person’s looks. When you first meet someone, you have a knee-jerk reaction to their appearance, but in the subsequent moments, you form a more educated impression as you converse with them. With online dating, though, your first impression is mostly, if not completely, based on a person’s looks. Everyone can lie and say, “No, I care more about their answers to the generic fluff questionnaires on their profile,” but we all know that’s BS. Even if that were true, however, the first impression is still being formed without any interaction with the other person. Especially with apps like Tinder, where, from what I understand, you literally make your decision to connect with someone or not based solely on their profile photo. Not to mention the fact that obviously, everyone is putting the best possible photos of them in existence on their online dating profile(s), which may very well be doctored to make them look even better, and also some people post completely fake photos, so your appearance-based judgement could turn out to be all for naught. Regardless, the idea of judging someone primarily on their appearance does not appeal to me, whether I’m doing it or it’s being done to me. I’m not denying the importance of physical attraction in a relationship or the fact that we can’t really control what/who we are attracted to. My point is simply that someone who is superficially focused on physical appearance, a focus which online dating fosters, is not a person I want any kind of relationship with. Also, I think all of us often find people who are mean/rude/douchey/etc. to be uglier for it, so it’s not like we are all solidified in our places on the immovable attractiveness scale–they can shift based on many factors, not the least of which is personality.
In addition to being averse to the importance online dating places on appearance, I also don’t like the desperation inherent in it. If I’m going to meet someone, I want that to happen naturally. Online dating is so overtly intentional–you basically sign up to hunt for a partner. The whole act implies that having a partner is of the utmost importance in life, which I just disagree with. God forbid we aren’t all married with a backyard and at least one kid, plus at least another on the way, by 30. I would rather live and die alone than force a relationship with someone. I believe that people can’t depend on other people for any complete sense of fulfillment. Of course, human interaction is important and meets some of our needs–but at the end of the day, you only have yourself, so you should nurture your relationship with yourself instead of seeking completion and validation externally. Relationships with others should be supplemental, not integral, to your core sense of self. I know that sounds like a crock of hippie dippie bullshit, but I think it’s the truth of the human condition, and that the importance this society places on relationships is an attempt to deny that truth, because it’s kind of sad. But if we embrace it, it becomes less sad.
And, finally, I raise the clichéd but true argument that it’s too easy to lie online. I’m not so much worried about meeting a serial killer–I’m probably too confident in my ability to fight off attackers. It’s more that a person can pretend to be ANYONE online, and it’s easy to fall for. Dating profiles give people the chance to construct and manufacture the version of themselves they think will win them the most romantic prospects in a way that is impossible in person. Yes, people can be inauthentic and present their best selves in person, too, but there are certain lies you just can’t get away with in the flesh like you can online. And the length of time a lie is sustainable is far shorter in person than online anyway, so if at first it succeeds, eventually it will crumble.
In conclusion, call me a cat lady, shrew, angry feminist, or whatever else you want, but the Internet thing just isn’t for me (so, lucky for you, you won’t have to worry about being matched with me). And to each their own–if someone meets their soulmate on MySpace, or wherever else people meet each other (bars? Mini-golf courses? The self-checkout at Ralph’s? Going for the same flavor simultaneously at Yogurtland?), that’s great for them.
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