10 Ways Social Media Has Ruined Dating
Our tech-driven society has been at the helm of many wonderful things. Internet is now a household commodity; people can work remotely, allowing them to connect with colleagues and business partners from across the globe, and the advent of social media websites like Facebook have allowed people to rediscover friendships and family they may have otherwise never seen again. One thing that social media and technology have not benefitted is modern dating culture. In fact, social media and technology have basically ruined dating and romance as we know it.
Gone are the days of handwritten love notes, mustering up the courage to formally ask someone out on a date, and ambitions for monogamy rather than hooking up. Millennial daters have been ones that are said to be part of what has been coined the “hookup culture” and much of said hooking up is steeped in social media and technology. Let’s share a collective groan and take a look at 10 ways social media and technology have ruined dating.
You Constantly See Your Ex, Even If It’s Only Through Photos
When Facebook was first established, it was exclusive only to college students. Today, it seems that everyone and their mother — not to mention their grandmother — has an account on the social media platform. I’m pretty sure I’m friends with most of my friends’ pets as well. Along with social media sites like Twitter and Instagram coming into the fold as popular social media sites, this constant connection to people can have detrimental effects when it comes to attempts at getting over a breakup. Back before the internet, breakups could be resolved by both parties agreeing not to see or talk again, and subsequently pretending the other person doesn’t exist and/or moved to a different planet.
It has become pretty impossible to cleanse your mind of an Ex File when our respective news feeds are so often congested with exes posting every moment from their nights out — some of those nights including pictures with said ex posing ambiguously with another person that may or may not be romantically involved with them. You can always delete and/or block an ex from your “friends” list, but even that can seem like a formidable task when you’re attempting to look “totally cool” with the situation. As Complex puts it, even when you do decide to unfriend/unfollow an ex, “…you have to remember what mutual friends you have so you don’t have to see Instagrammed pictures of your ex tongue-wrestling with her rando creeper neighbor you always thought had a thing for her.” Ugh.
Conversation Has Gone Almost Exclusively To Text
Remember the days when landlines weren’t archaic and it was actually considered normal for those in the 20s and 30s age bracket to own one? The only landline I receive a call from now is the one located at my parents’ house and even they seldom use it anymore. Seriously, ever since my parents learned how to text (and learned what “lol” stands for) they can’t get enough of texting me and my sister. They still kick it old school with the occasional voicemails, but I digress…
Elite Daily’s Stephanie Hayman expounded upon the ways that texting has definitively ruined facets of dating. “Our generation, one that lovingly relishes in the concept of instant gratification, has single-handedly managed to undermine the art of dating by means of technological evolution,” she says. “How, you ask? Via speech bubbles that appear on a 2 x 4 screen” Hayman went on to note the pernicious advent of things like the “buzzed texts” singles frequently receive from would-be companions. “The illusion that is all-encompassing of the classic ‘booty call’ text has the ability to become too routine. If a guy only communicates with you between the hours of 9 pm to 3 am, you know what his intentions are.”
The popularity of the smartphone has offered many wonderful things — we now have access to emails, websites, a slew of self-improving apps, and the like right at our fingertips. Of course, with every positive there are invariably a few negatives attached, which brings us to the topic of texting. Texting is fun, convenient, and a great excuse to use all those fun emojis of gals dancing and puppies. However, with texting becoming the preferred method of communication (hearing a person’s voice is so overrated, right?) the dating scene has been pervaded by this lack of intimate exchanges and exacerbated things like misunderstanding and mixed messages.
No One Has to Be Courageous Anymore
In the olden days of…well…anytime before smartphones and household internet, asking someone on a date was one that involved a great mustering of courage along with actual feelings of affection for the person a man or woman was planning to ask out.
As the New York Times puts it, “Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings).” Today, with a majority of dating invitations be posed through text, online dating websites and apps, “it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.” Moreover, technology has increased the dating pool exponentially. Where people used to hope for a situation of happenstance or seek setups through friends, family, and colleagues, social media and dating apps currently offer a vast catalogue of singles for anyone looking to find a potential companion or hookup. The mustering of courage that used to precede asking someone on a date has basically disappeared. Because of the numerous options available, rejection isn’t something to be feared because a potential date could be right around the corner. Furthermore, because there is very little verbal communication before an actual date manifests, disinterested singles can simply choose not to respond to a text or “un-match” on a dating app. Although it’s nice to have choices, too many choices can also diminish the intimacy and courage that was once prevalent in courtship.
Online Dating Discourages Monogamy
With such a vast Rolodex of prospective mates to choose from, the temptation to become a serial dater rather than settle into a monogamous relationship has never been more tantamount as it is with 21st century dating culture. ”The older you get as a man, the more experienced you get. You know what to do with women, how to treat them and talk to them. Add to that the effect of online dating,” U.K. dating site founder, Dan Winchester, told The Atlantic’s Dan Slater. “I often wonder whether matching you up with great people is getting so efficient, and the process so enjoyable, that marriage will become obsolete.” And for those who are married, online dating continues its pernicious affect on romance and monogamy.
Ashley Madison is a website pandering specifically to married individuals who are looking to have an affair, as well as singles who apparently have a thing for legally bound men and women. Operating under the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair.”, the site has received an onslaught of criticism since being established in 2001, while also garnering billions of dollars from members that look to peruse extramarital options. BBC’s Kim Gittleson spoke with the website’s founder, Noel Biderman, who attempted to make a case for infidelity and using affairs as a business model. “I think unfortunately the morality of infidelity is that last bastion — we’ve gotten comfortable with interracial relationships, we’re getting more comfortable with same-sex ones, it’s infidelity that has a long history that has to be overridden.” I don’t know if cheating on your spouse can really be compared to civil rights, but OK then…
The article went on to note results from a study “…by analyst firm Global Web Index [that] found that more than 40% of the users on the Tinder dating app were married or in a relationship.” Apparently “swiping right” can have more dire consequences than we thought.
Social Media & Technology Can Delay a First Date From Even Happening
Comedian and actor, Aziz Ansari, recently released a book titled Modern Romance, which he co-wrote with sociologist Eric Klinenberg. The work takes a comprehensive look at the shifts modern entities like social media and smartphones have caused in the dating world. Speculation on the trials of dating in a millennial society is old hat for Ansari, as he has frequently referenced it in his stand-up specials. During one bit for his special, Dangerously Delicious, Ansari laments that he made a discovery that all dating conversation had “gone exclusively to text” once he had exited a long-term relationship. The bit is as hilarious as it is achingly true, as Ansari notes the miscommunication that can happen during texting, where both parties will instantly respond to texts until someone says something like,“‘OK cool. So you wanna get pizza on Tuesday?’ And then I don’t hear anything! And I’m like, ‘what just happened? I know you read that s***. You responded to 20 other things I just said. What, do you not like me anymore?…Did you check your phone into a locker and go ride a rollercoaster for a few hours? WHAT’S THE DEAL?!’”
New York single, Shani Silver, told The New York Times of similar dating woes related to texting. There is an intangible nonchalance attached to typing words into a phone rather than hearing an actual voice, and this lackadaisical nature accompanied by “LOLs” and emojis has pervaded our current dating culture. When texting about a date, that date in turn becomes less intimate. Silver, for example, received a last minute invite to a “date” with a man she had met online, only to realize his idea of a date was having her join him for a few rounds with his a slew of his buddies from college.
“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” she told The New York Times. It wasn’t until 10:30 p.m. that he sent her this text message: “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” and added, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”
“‘It’s one step below a date and one step above a high-five,’ she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along.” Speaking of casualties…
Dating Has Become Too Casual
Just as the accelerated intensity of a relationship that can be spurred by infatuation, languidly trudging though the dating pool with only casual intentions can also have adverse effects. Moreover, the lines between “hanging out”, “dating”, and “exclusivity” have become so blurred, they’re more like globs of confusion than lines at all. Yes, that metaphor may have made little-to-no sense, but I stand by it. Denise Hewitt, a Manhattan-based television producer knows what I’m talking about.
”The new date is ‘hanging out'” Hewitt told The New York Times. She recalled a guy friend validating her sentiment by saying: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.” Indeed “hanging out” has now become synonymous with actual dating. With all pre-dating conversation going exclusively to the nonchalance of text, apps, and dating websites, it’s hard to decipher whether a relationship is even romantic or not. Whereas several decades ago finding someone to marry sought after with urgency (a staple of a different time that wasn’t necessarily a positive one), we have now gone to the completely opposite end of the spectrum, where too many options may keep us from finding someone to share our lives with.
Potential Companions Know Too Much About Your Past Before Meeting You In The Present
A staple of healthy relationships is taking time to get to know each other and establishing a foundation of trust before revealing your past secrets and vulnerabilities. In the age of social media and ever-evolving technology, a potential date or suitor can glean a roster of information on you before you’ve even met face to face. Where people used to be able to discard polaroids of less-than-flattering situations, and regretful anecdotes about past relationships were only exposed during ventilations between friends as opposed to status updates, every thought, embarrassing moment, and personal anecdote can now be garnered faster than one can say “Google”. As Complex puts it, “Because one of your supposed friends tagged an incriminating picture of you on Facebook and now you have to explain to your precious princess girlfriend why her seemingly straight-laced knight in shining armor was acting out a scene from a Girls Gone Wild DVD. Good luck with that, and, in the future, make sure you set your Facebook tags so you can approve them first.”
Furthermore, any mystery that used to exist at the start of a new relationship has now been dismantled by social media and technology. According to Elite Daily, “You are literally stripping the discovery process out of dating. One of the best parts of a relationship is getting to know the other person. These different social media platforms take all of that novelty away.”
Sentimentalities Like Candid Photos & Handwritten Messages Are No More
“There’s a shoebox in my closet where I keep every love letter, scribbled note, or snapshot from dudes of yore, and ever since I signed my first cell phone contract, my contributions to my shoebox have dwindled. Coincidence? I think not.” This anecdote came from Thought Catalog’s Anna Goldfarb, who went on to note other sentimentalities that have long lost their novelty — and become pretty much nonexistent — in today’s tech-driven dating culture. Gone are the days when a ticket stub from the first movie you saw with your S.O. Instead, we “check in” on Facebook about which theater we are at, which movie we are seeing, and who we are with. This saturation of interconnectedness completely nixes the privacy of a first date — along with any subsequent dates. Candid photos no longer are found in a prized shoebox, but rather on a slew of social media websites and apps where they are put through a variety of filters and mock airbrushing for all the world to see. As for handwritten messages, has anyone picked up a pencil lately for anything? Even grocery lists can be converted to text or a “notes” function on smartphones. Rather than passing a handwritten note in glass that has been conspicuously folded into what may or may not be an origami heart, teenagers are tweeting their inner monologues for all the world to see.
Intimate Moments Have Lost Their Intimacy
“If it’s not Facebook official, it doesn’t count,” has become a popular mantra of the 21st century’s dating generation. The only two people that truly know the depth and intimacy involved in a romantic relationship are…well…the two people involved. Social media has dismantled a fourth wall that used to exist in dating. Sure, facets of your relationship would be revealed during outings with friends and family, but there are other private moments that are arguably better left out of the public eye. Back before the advent social media and internet becoming a household commodity, people that you knew from middle school wouldn’t have an all-access pass to your relationship status and intimate date nights. Today, failing to list your exclusivity — or lack thereof — on your Facebook profile is met with slackened jaws and knitted brows of concern. “Is he your boyfriend?” “Why aren’t you two Facebook official yet?” “What do you mean he’s ‘not into social media’? Clearly, he must be cheating on you.”
People are basically encouraged to disclose every date night, every relationship update, and a litany of other things on social media. Not only does this lift the curtain on what was historically supposed to be a private relationship, it diminishes the significance by turning romance into a public broadcast. As Complex puts it, “You can engage in sappy, disgusting public demonstrations of affection on your Facebook page…You can tweet at work, Skype on your lunch break, and Vine yourself doing laundry. [This] totally diminishes the importance of the relationship. Unless being emotionally and psychologically detached from the physical importance of being around other human beings is your thing…”
Expecting The Unexpected Is Archaic
Because of social media and technology, the beauty of happenstance has become archaic. Hearing stories about how two people met serendipitously has kind of become like a shooting star — you’re lucky if you see it once, if at all. I remember the mantra about love “happening when you least expect it” growing up, but those words have seemingly long been forgotten by today’s dating culture. Being that so many people meet online, through apps, or are at least holding several dating site accounts means that everyone is looking for that person (or several people). This now commonplace behavior upends the pleasant surprise people used to experience when happening upon a compatible mate in the most random of circumstances. Moreover, there are still plenty of opportunities throughout everyday life that could lead to a moment of romantic happenstance, but the prevalence of dating apps and websites could actually prevent us from becoming privy to these real-life encounters.
Matchmaker and founder of the Paul C. Brunson Agency, Paul Brunson, expounded upon this when speaking with ABC about an “elitist” dating app called The League, where users are curated by things like social economic status, physical appeal, and more. He criticized this and other apps by telling ABC, “We’ll be so focused on our phones and our online matches, that we won’t ever look up and see someone who may be potentially perfect for us.” Indeed, modern dating culture has become so unremittingly connected to technological advances but completely disconnected when it comes to real-life connections.