In theory the Internet creates possibilities.
Instead of our romantic lives being limited to those we may meet at work or during social activities (if anyone actually has these, anymore…) we can upload a profile of ourselves and begin to look through thousands of potential matches.
According to statistics more than forty percent of couples today have met online.
In reality, most people on dating sites don’t actually want to meet.
What they want is approbation. They want the tiny jolts of dopamine that come from someone out there showing approval. They want text messages or right-swipes or winks or whatever.
To get this approbation a lot of folk are using pictures taken ten or more years ago. They’re using filters to get rid of wrinkles or blemishes. They’re enlarging their eyes and lips and shrinking their noses and chins. They’re subtracting ten years from their age. Weirdly, many women are adorning themselves with childish cartoon noses, ears, and all manner of other infantile additions as though they were auditioning for a role in a kindergarten play.
In addition there’s all the expected distortions: if female they’re subtracting several kilos from their weight and if male they are adding several centimeters to their height.
As a result of all this fabrication these folk are receiving a lot of attention. Lots of messages, likes, winks, and whatever.
But this is not in order actually to meet anyone in real life. In fact, after all the alterations and misrepresentations, meeting in real life would be a major disappointment. Instead, the winks and text messages and likes have become the primary purpose of being on these apps and websites.
We’ve entered a world in which people are satisfying themselves with lots of tiny dopamine jolts rather than engaging with real people in real life to achieve more substantial pleasures.
Basically, dating apps are like junk food: quick, easy, cheap.
And also terrible for you.
We have an obesity epidemic today because for the last several decades we’ve been cramming McSlop into our throats and washing it down with Diabetes-Cola. Now we’re heading into a mental health epidemic because people are increasingly isolating themselves behind their devices, substituting fantasy for reality and thereby foregoing all-important real-world human-to-human connections.
I have a very attractive friend who currently lives in the Midwest. She put up a profile that states her real age and uses current pictures. She’s been on a few dates and each time the man in question has expressed astonishment that she looks just like the pics in her profile. Even more astonishing is the fact she shows up. Apparently many women these days will agree to meet, agree to a time and place, and then… ghost.
My friend has a high sex-drive and goes on dates in the hope of finding enough of a connection that she can get fucked. So far that’s worked out on a couple of occasions but afterwards the guys drift off, seduced by the endless parade of fake pictures attached to misleading profiles.
I was so surprised by her experience that I created my own (truthful) profile on a couple of well-known dating apps. Within hours I had over 24 women interested in me and 8 were messaging me, flirting, and asking questions. I replied to each one politely, inquiring about their days, asking what they were looking for, and so on. I didn’t send any risqué messages and I certainly didn’t send any dick-pics.
My experience was predictable: these women wanted to feel attractive, they wanted to receive messages, but they most certainly did not want to meet up, ever, under any circumstance.
We now live in a world in which the very few people hoping to have real-life interactions are drowned out by the thousands who just want tiny dopamine jolts from the fantasy-world of online dating apps. For these people their primary relationship is with their phone or tablet; there’s simply no room for the awkwardness of trying to interact with another actual human being.
Perhaps forty percent of couples do meet online. But that doesn’t mean much. If there are one hundred million people online, and a million recent couples, then four hundred thousand met online. That’s just 0.4%. In other words, 99.6% of people out there aren’t going to make a real connection, mainly because they don’t actually want to. Reality is so much more complex than a swipe or a wink or a text message. And who, these days, wants reality?
Apparently not many at all.
And that is very, very sad indeed.