Seated deep within the American spirit is the natural desire to tame the unknown. The nation has explored high and low on this wave of fervor and on it continues to push to a brighter future. However, man has fully yet to brave the wilds of one last frontier: the murky depths of online dating.
There has been an era of stigma against online dating. In the past, it has been considered a borderline taboo to use such an unnatural method of meeting people. This fear of shady profiles and unseen motives is born from a reasonable fear of the internet in general. After all, people are hardly who they say they are. However, while this is a legitimate concern, recent innovations as well as the public becoming more internet-educated have led to a growing community of social dating networks.
The largest concern when discussing online dating is the fear of meeting someone different than what was advertised. What was thought to be a sweet, church-going 22-year-old turns out to be a lumbering, hairy stranger at the ripe age of 62. When the first dating sites were learning how to walk, this was a serious issue. The public was just beginning to interact with the internet, much less dating sites.
Years later, after much virtual trailblazing, we live in a society dominated by Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat: services all based on sharing everything about our lives. Why do we not run screaming from this modern “selfie society?” Simple. We have learned how to be safe online. Years of wading into the treacherous waters of social media have turned us into hardened internet-folk. We assess the quality of site layouts, avoid pop-ups, never buy strange pills on the internet and, most importantly, we check profiles online.
Online dating has felt these changes as well. Tinder and Bumble users have learned how to spot legitimate profiles. They look for full bios, sincere pictures and more information than simply “I like adventures.” An etiquette has been established. Users who want actual dates can signal this, and those looking for more… brief companionship can also show what they want. To further ensure the safety of matches, the users first chat to establish a connection. This often leads to a trade of social media accounts and a mutual investigation into a potential “crush” that often rivals that of the FBI.
While some may still have their fears about online matchmaking, it is important to note that dating in public is not much different. Most romantic interactions begin at social events. Someone new is met; some common interests are shared. If a connection is felt, numbers are swapped. A face is seen, some information is shared and neither person can fully confirm the identity of their “crush.” The danger of traditional dating is proportional to those of online dating, if not more so. If someone is not who they say they are in public, there is potential for physical harm or worse.
Dangers aside, no one method of dating works for everyone. Some are content in talking to someone new during a party. Some tend to stick to the corner of the room, affectionately cooing over the dog. Some have trouble going to a party at all. Apps like Tinder and Bumble allow people to forgo the strategizing involved in determining if a prospective crush is interested. It allows the shy to become more confident flirts and can boost self-esteem. For those simply too busy to date, these apps provide a way to make the process more efficient. It gives users chances to flex their romantic muscles, which can lead to new relationships or even a return to traditional dating.