Recently I was sat with one of my close friends who, lo and behold, online dates. She’s due to meet one of the various men she’s been talking to, but she’s nervous. Like, super nervous… and I don’t blame her. I mean, she’s naturally quiet to say the least, so goodness knows what she’ll be like meeting a stranger. Well, a kind-of stranger.
Of course, she’s been talking to him on Tinder for weeks, both eager to meet each other. But, now that the day is here she’s not so sure, despite talking to him. Every. Single. Day. She briefly showed me some of the messages between them and it’s safe to say I was surprised. My shy and quiet friend was talking to him with so much confidence – she was outgoing, talkative and flirty! Definitely not what I was expecting.
As I was walking home I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation I had just had. Is online dating directly affecting our social skills? Is it increasing our confidence? Or, is this just because we’re behind a screen?
I thought that rather than just contemplating these questions myself, it would be a good topic to discuss over on my blog. So, here we are.
A genuine confidence booster, or are we kidding ourselves?
I guess it’s not unusual to be able to talk to someone with more confidence behind a screen; after all they won’t see you blush when you make an embarrassing typo (we’ve all sent ‘ducked’ when we meant… well you know). But, how does the notion of online dating affect this, as opposed to an online conversation on a purely friendly basis?
Let’s back-track to traditional dating for a minute. Imagine walking along the street as multiple people approach you out of nowhere to say ‘hey’, to ask you on a date, to ask for your number. Unless you’re famous (or very lucky) it just doesn’t happen. Online though, it’s a different story. It seems odd to think about it, I know, but this is essentially what happens for most people on dating apps. You get ‘matches’, ‘likes’ and messages constantly from a variety of people and this, in itself, increases our self-esteem. You’ve got to admit it’s nice to feel wanted, isn’t it?
In fact, a survey by Lend EDU found that 44% of Tinder users use the app for “confidence-boosting procrastination”, again suggesting that dating apps increase our confidence. But is this new-found confidence reflected in our real-lives? At least with the case of my friend, it doesn’t seem to be, yet her online chat is about as confident as it gets, which makes me think… she can’t be alone on this.
It seems that whilst online dating has greatly increased her ‘online’ confidence, her lack of traditional dating and getting to know someone face-to-face without a screen between them has actually meant she has lost, or maybe never even learnt, the right skills to talk to someone in person. Obviously it’s completely normal to feel anxious before a first date but her level of nervousness is insane, and I truly believe it’s because online dating has deprived her of real social skills. Sad really, isn’t it?
“Social media has allowed us to create an alternate universe” and so, especially with dating, we don’t have to risk the real-life awkwardness and possible rejection from who we are seeking as a love interest.
I mean, to put it simply, we’re living in a dream world on dating apps but unfortunately for most, this world isn’t real-life. So when we’re put on a real-life date, how do we know how to act?
On a ‘real-life’ date…
Whether you online date or not, there’s no doubt that at some point you’re going to be on an actual date with someone (if your time hasn’t come yet, don’t worry, it will).
But what were these dates like before digital technology? Yesterday, I was on a date with my boyfriend at a nice restaurant. From the moment we ordered until our food arrived we barely spoke – both engrossed on our phones. I hadn’t even realised how long it had been and I was mortified when I realised. As I looked around the restaurant it didn’t take me long to realise that this is simply the day and age we live in.
It seems digital technologies have affected dating in more than just the way of there being online-dating opportunities. They’ve affected our real-life! People “interact with their phones more than their romantic partners” now and this has actually proven to disrupt the development of our relationships. It, again, stops our socialising and over time can impact greatly on the skills we have to do so. Is it just me, or are we almost becoming robotic…?
The truth is, if we continue as we are, it’s likely that the social skills of our general society are going to keep decreasing. The digital impact on dating has meant that our dates (first dates in particular) are no longer full of good chats and laughs… instead they’re awkward, we’re nervous and we just want them to be over.
Traditional dating seems far better. If only we could all go back to that! Ugh…
There will be a new post in 6 days!
Follow me on Twitter for updates, hints and more information on the digital impact on dating – http://www.twitter.com/virtualloveblog