Technology is a powerful way to bring people together and today’s online dating services are a testament to this. But having made it convenient for singles to meet new people, there are however certain problems that most of us may not be aware of. So, let’s take a deeper look about the complicated problem of online dating.
The Problem of Seemingly Unlimited Choices
One of the biggest limitations with online dating platforms is the illusion of unlimited choices. As soon as users sign up or set up a profile, they are presented with seemingly endless suggestions of eligible singles to sift through. Users are required to swipe or browse through countless profiles (often very quickly) in search of a compatible partner. Consequently, users tend to become picky and become less willing to commit to relationships. Even upon matching with a suitable partner, users tend to resume browsing through more profiles with the blind hope that there are better people out there.
Platforms are only as Good as Their Underlying Technology
The effectiveness of dating platforms is dependent solely on the ability of the algorithm or technology. Unfortunately, almost all dating platforms operate via “searchable attributes” like height, weight, nationality, body type, ethnicity and attitudes towards sports, politics, smoking, drinking. It is hard to identify the deeper, experiential qualities of a person. For instance, users can find out if a person is cheerful, kind, generous or caring, only by meeting and spending time with people in person. Due to this limitation, people can only look for their mirror-selves with similar likes, dislikes, interests, tastes, and preferences.
A Fast-Paced Dating Approach Promotes Instant Gratification
Most of today’s online dating platforms encourage a fast-paced approach to dating that implicitly promotes a culture of instant gratification. Recently, Michigan State University conducted research involving 4,000 married couples and learnt that those who met online were three times more likely to become divorced as compared to the ‘traditional’ couples. It also found out that online daters are 28% more likely to break up in the first year itself. In connection with this study, Ayesha Vardag, one of Britain’s leading divorce lawyers, adds that there is a greediness accompanying online dating. She described these platforms as a digital menu of people and because of its high convenience users may lose sight of the true value of relationships and often don’t give others a fair chance.
Online Platforms Can Never Supplant Meetings in Person
In her articles for The Telegraph concerning online dating, Sarah Knapton, a science reporter, sheds light on the irreplaceable advantage of meeting people in real life. She states that only by meeting someone in person, can we identify certain unconscious ‘biological clues’ such as pheromones to know if someone is a potential match or not. Thus there is a strong possibility that we may label someone as unsuitable solely based on their online profiles without critical real life knowledge. She also sees today’s singles as having busy lives with little time for face-to-face meetings and so, there is only a poor prospect for developing relationships. She observes that as a result, people are ‘throwing themselves at the mercy of computers and are outsourcing their love lives to algorithms and spreadsheets’.
Dating Sites are Frequently Targeted by Criminals
In the past, men and women met one another through family, friends or colleagues in traditional settings where trusting someone new was simply much easier. But in our time of internet aided dating, there is little to no structure to identify someone as trustworthy because users are often anonymous online and physically far away.
A recent research by Michigan University reports that 86% of online daters are concerned about profiles having false information. And nowadays, it’s not uncommon for certain people to lie and to cheat others over the internet, especially in the pretext of relationships. The sad truth is that it’s actually very easy for scammers, fraudsters and criminals to take advantage of vulnerable, innocent young people. Every year, news and police complaints continuously pour in to capture disturbing cases of abductions, abuse, financial scams, identity thefts, murders and rapes.
This is precisely why young people must exercise extreme caution if they want to get involved with a new person especially over the internet. We must also strongly encourage people to go through simple guides on learning to spot online scammers and staying safe.
Online Dating can Damage our Health
According to a 2011 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, social rejection stimulates the same part of the brain that processes physical pain. What this means is that to our brain, there are no differences between broken bones, torn ligaments, strained muscles and social rejection or a broken heart.
Overall, online dating platforms are not conducive to good mental health. They foster certain damaging attitudes such as commodifying people and human disposability that in the end undermines meaningful relationships and puts superficiality up on a pedestal. Online daters, in a study by the University of North Texas, report lower self-esteem and poor psychosocial well-being. With millions of users spending time regularly on these platforms and being a three-billion dollar industry today, you must be aware of the strong likelihood that these platforms may be designed to be addictive.
If an online dating platform can identify a person’s experiential qualities like problem-solving, communication skills or life skills, the algorithm can match two people far more accurately as these are critical for a successful relationship. But, as of now, there is no such algorithm.
While the social stigma concerning dating apps weakens by the day and they become more widely accepted, dating apps are however not 100% safe. But, let us not discourage you from looking for your potential partner online because it has been a viable answer for many. In sum, the main takeaway is that online dating should never become your sole strategy or approach to meeting your partner. It’s always safer and smarter to invest time, energy and resources to meet new people in both real life circumstances and technology-aided socializing, equally.
Dating platforms are like digital menu of people. And because of the high convenience, users may lose sight of the true value of relationships.
Online dating should never become your sole strategy or approach to meeting your partner. It’s always safer and smarter to invest time, energy and resources to meet new people in real life circumstances.