What's Wrong With Online Dating?

via someecards.com

To some, online dating is a shamefully self-destructive activity: Men and women, dissatisfied with traditional methods of finding a mate, feed their dating hunger by sifting through the week-old garbage that are online dating sites, stuffing their faces with the refuse of the masses until they overindulge and sit in the shower, rocking back and forth, wailing, “why did I do this to myself? Why?! WHYYYYY?!!!”

Or that’s how it seems to me, after witnessing people’s reactions when I come out of the online dating closet.

Um, guys? What’s the big deal? Why is online dating so disgraceful? I must be missing something here because I honestly don’t see how it’s different from any other method of finding someone.

Okay, I understand why some people might think online dating is a sign of desperation, and that dating sites are a last resort for people who can’t function in the rough-and-tumble realities of in-person dating. After all, the online dater is on a mission to find someone—and is sometimes paying to do so.

But critics forget that not everyone dating online is an idealistic virgin looking to get married right this second. There are millions of people on different sites, from all socioeconomic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds, with varying levels of dating and relationship experience.

Everyone always says that thing about the fish in the sea. Well, online dating sites are that sea. Casting a line in it is as easy as checking a few boxes and clicking “search.” Bait the hook with a nice-lookin’ snapshot, and you’re good to go.

Naysayers also don’t like to admit how efficient online dating is. It’s a lot more effective than wading through crowds at bars, or waiting around for that cutie to come over and talk to you, or sitting at home every night, singing Queen songs at the top of your lungs, hoping that pillow next to you will spontaneously morph into the person of your dreams, holding cookies and a six pack of your favorite brew.

Have you ever heard the saying that you have to buy a ticket to win the lotto? Well, you have to break a few eggs to find somebody to love.

I’m mixing metaphors, but you get what I’m saying. If you’re sick of being single, why not utilize every resource you can? And efficacy isn’t the only great thing about online dating. Call now, and you’ll also receive filters to weed out the undesirables and highlight the keepers, self-descriptions that help you gauge narcissism and literacy levels, and a thick veil of internet security to protect you from the harsh reality that, even online, not everyone’s going to like you! All for the low, low monthly price of $[mumblemumblemumble]!

Seriously, as long as online dating is used in conjunction with actual physical interaction, I don’t see the harm. And I don’t see why someone should be embarrassed by it. Granted, I don’t run around the streets screaming, “I DATE ONLINE AND LOVELOVELOVE IT!,” because sometimes, like dating in real life, online dating sucks the proverbial big one. My experiences over the past eight years—yes, that’s right, eight—have ranged from absolutely horrendous to downright awesome. Like any other manner of meeting people, online dating isn’t all unicorns and rainbows all the time.

Online dating is full of narcissism, inflated egos, judgment, and vanity. But hey, so is my neighborhood watering hole. The difference—and problem—is that superficiality on the internet is faster, smarter, harder-working, and it plays to win. People click through photos with the same cutthroat rapidity as closing pop-up ads. In fact, that’s exactly what online dating profiles are: a picture and a few words to describe what’s being sold, and the option to learn more if you’re interested or simply close it if you’re annoyed. Most of the time, you’re annoyed, so you click and move on to the next one. Easy-peasy.

Just keep in mind that the people you’re interacting with are doing roughly the same thing you are—looking at photos and making completely superficial snap judgments about who to message, wink at, poke, high-five, or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Once you willingly sign up for that and accept it, the roads are much easier to navigate. Play along, go with the flow, and don’t make a big deal out of it. Meeting people online is as valid as meeting them at the library, or in school, or at a bar, or even through friends. Two people looking for the same thing at the same place? There you go—common interest, right there.

I’m not trying to convert anyone to the church of Match.com or OKCupid here. There will be no Chemistry.com baptisms or eHarmony christenings. My point is this: online dating isn’t more legitimate than any other kind of dating. It simply is legitimate, and people need to stop harping on it and judging people who do it. In today’s society, where we do everything on some form of a computer, it’s no more or less natural than meeting someone on the street. It’s another way to meet people outside your normal social circles and work environments, and the odds of meeting someone special, or The One, or just A One, are about the same as in 3D.

It’s not a last resort, it’s not a Hail Mary, it’s not the penultimate step in becoming a crazy shut-in with 16 cats who only wears purple floral muumuus and washes her hair on a yearly basis and eventually gets evicted from her hovel because it poses a public health concern. It’s just like anything else.

Well, at least, on the internet, they can’t see you in the purple muumuu.

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Allison Schein

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8 comments

  • In theory, I really like online dating- my dad/stepmom met through it and they’re doing great, 3 years later. I just haven’t found anyone through it that I’ve had genuine chemistry with yet- I find it very difficult to click with someone the way it is, and there’s so much pressure to do that online that I wimp out and give up every time I start communicating with someone.

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  • I think my problem with internet dating is the same problem I have with most things on the internet- a lot of things get lost in translation.

    I’m a sarcastic person and sometimes that doesn’t come across properly on the internet. I admit to working with poop all day, but really, that’s a complete and total oversimplification of what I do. Also, I seem to attract morons and jerks. I think that might be a personal problem that I need to work on.

  • I think the misconception is that online dating, through filters, anonymity, saved searches, etc., makes dating simpler. It doesn’t. The same problems that crop up in the real world eventually find their way into the web-reality of Match.com.

    I do think the stigma attached to online dating is falling away though- lots of people admit to using it, although begrudgingly at times. Maybe if Facebook wasn’t basically being used as Adultery.com, at least married people wouldn’t have a poor opinion of online dating?

  • Danny Braciole :

    I think the misconception is that online dating, through filters, anonymity, saved searches, etc., makes dating simpler. It doesn’t. The same problems that crop up in the real world eventually find their way into the web-reality of Match.com.

    Exactly. Dating online is an extension of real life. Even though meeting someone on the internet adds some layer of anonymity, there’s still a person behind that controlling the messages, the profile, etc. And that kind of goes with what Alex is saying about finding it hard to click with someone in real life. I will admit, the first couple of exchanges can be more awkward online than offline, but if chemistry is an issue in person, it’s probably going to be an issue online too.

    RE—Things do get lost in translation sometimes, but people stick their foot in their mouth all the time. It is a valid concern, but I like to meet people relatively early on when we’re first messaging. It takes the pressure off, and you get a better idea of their personality and sense of humor with their tone and inflection, thus decreasing your chances of making an ass of yourself. 🙂

    I agree that the stigma is slowly disappearing, but it still exists, and it shouldn’t. It’s a generational thing, I guess, and I’m sure it will eventually cease completely, but it kills me that people are so judgmental about it when there’s nothing wrong with it or with the people participating.

    And hey, if you believe the commercials, 20% of marriages now happen because of online dating, so not ALL of them have a poor opinion of it… But yeah, Facebook, man. It ruins everything.

  • Allison Schein :

    And hey, if you believe the commercials, 20% of marriages now happen because of online dating…

    …and 30% of all divorces now happen because of online dating.

  • “Well, you have to break a few eggs to find somebody to love” – this sound very disturbing if you were referring to the kind of “eggs” I was thinking about… 😉

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