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Swipe Left: Dating in the Digital Age

It’s 2017 and this thing we call “dating” is nothing short of a catastrophe. Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it is more of a mess than the Sriracha I spilled on my pants during lunch today. Let’s just compromise and say that dating is terrible (insert Charles Barkley voice).  

If you are currently in the dating game, you might relate to this clip from the movie Wedding Crashers.

And if that wasn’t already ridiculous enough, there is one thing in particular that has made matters substantially worse - and sometimes without us even noticing.

Technology.

That’s right, technology is often to blame (let me know how many times you check your social media accounts or text messages while reading this). Sure, it’s great when you want to weigh in your opinions on politics, post a photo of your meal or watch videos of your friends’ baby and/or cat for the 800th time. Not only has technology made our lives less private, but it has become a crutch (along with booze for some) - especially when it comes to dating and relationships.

It’s far too easy to text or private message someone when you want to ask them on a date, or in modern terms, “Netflix & Chill” aka “hangout” aka “bump uglies” or whatever hip things the kids are saying these days (yeah, I’m too old for this s!@#). If you’ve found yourself at the point of asking someone out, you may have already bypassed most of the first date type of conversations by learning more about this person through a series of messages. Therefore, when it comes time for the actual date, you spend most of the time trying to make something out of a moderately awkward conversation. This happens because you are now face-to-face and your virtual crutch has been removed. While it doesn’t have to be like this, we have allowed it to happen as technology evolves.

One of the latest trends I’ve been noticing is when the date you’ve already scheduled and planned for may not even happen at all. While the hilarious Aziz Ansari explained it best, my theory is that the receiving end of a message will get caught in the moment and quickly oblige to a date offer, but there is still a lack of any true connection. So their quick, careless response is a direct reflection of the lazy “let’s hangout” message they received minutes prior. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? (see, even Alanis Morrisette agrees). So now what happens when you attempt to confirm plans on the day of said plans? You sometimes get this as a response: ___________. Yeah, total crickets. 

I miss the days of calling someone you liked on a landline (or calling anyone on a landline for that matter). If they weren’t home, you left a voice message (on a cassette tape in their answering machine) and if they wanted to call you back, they would. That was that. No waiting around for a quick response, no pussyfooting your way around a conversation via text, no seeing them post on Facebook without responding to your messages, and no misinterpreting the manner in which the dialogue was intended. Let me paint you a picture of how that once looked back when I was in high school: Girl’s Mom answers the phone. “Hi, is Sara there?” “She is, let me get her for you” (after having a brief parental conversation in hopes that you will be invited over for dinner sometime without being introduced to her Dad’s gun collection). Then, after you chat about your day and how boring your history class was or whatever else high school kids talk about, you would make plans on when to see each other. And guess what? Wait. For. It. You would both actually show up! See, there is real value to that.

Back while this aforementioned greater time for communication was all happening (and MTV still played music videos), we were not flipping through Tinder trying to line up our date of the week (maybe more depending on what your end game is) or browsing through MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, or Match.com trying to decide who we would shamelessly spit lines at next (literally lines of text typed into a chat box). There was no need for the “next one,” when all that mattered was right in front of us. Loyalty and preserving your word used to mean something. These days, I’m not so sure there’s any more merit behind it than the goofy meme your friend just posted.

Speaking of Tinder, a study done by GlobalWebIndex surveyed 47,000 users, revealing that 30% were married and an additional 12% were in a relationship. I’m not a math wizard, but that’s a whopping 42% of users who are committed, yet still searching for love on Tinder. So thank you to the cheaters for further strengthening my stance on the hindered of technology and dating. Sure, the end user is ultimately to blame, but technology is putting infidelity at their fingertips (literally). #sexjokes. Technology + temptation = infidelity = breakup/divorce. But hey, I guess that leaves the rest of us with a greater chance at love (or just more Super Likes from someone who may or may not already be married).

That all said, and maybe it’s just my cynical filter on what technology has done to relationships and the world of dating, but I have noticed a steady trend on Facebook lately. Within a succession of sometimes just weeks or months apart, my news feed looks something like this:

  1. “I just started seeing someone.”
  2. {So-and-so is in a relationship with so-and-so}
  3. Insert photos of engagement rings.
  4. Clever countdown posts to when the baby is due.

 

It really begs the question: Is technology speeding up the dating process too rapidly and holding us back even further? I will let you draw your own conclusions as I continue to swipe left or right on Tinder.

Yes, I’m just as guilty as anyone. I constantly find myself caught in the technology trap (minus the part about engagements and babies). It’s easy to sit here and complain about it all day via words on paper (by paper, I mean this website that you are probably reading on your phone if you’ve made it this far) as I continue to fall back into the same routine time and time again. Why do we continue to do this to ourselves? We do it because it is convenient, and unfortunately, it has become the norm. We live in a world of options where we are constantly looking for instant gratification and the next best thing. Not because we need to, but because technology has trained us to be this way.

I’m not sure that Marty McFly and Doc Brown quite predicted this one, my friends. We created this mess. You, me and everyone else out there clicking, swiping and instant messaging our way to “the one.” Technology and the way we use it didn’t happen all on its own. Until we put down our phones and start treating each other like human beings instead of just another option, the calamity will continue for generations to come. This is the world we currently live in and it’s up to us to change the tide – one less virtual crutch at a time.

-Randy

 

PS. As I finish typing this while waiting for my car to get worked on (again), an attractive woman sits down in the chair across from me, staring at her phone as I stare at my computer screen. I can’t help but wonder if she’s on Tinder. Maybe I should just shut my damn computer and find out…

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