“There is no denying that the pursuit of love in the 21st Century has become littered with digital landmines. There are now more than 91 million people around the world on dating apps.” *
Digital landmines – that’s a good way to think about online dating.
The bombs are hidden and may blow at the slightest touch, or they may lie, undetected, for weeks or months.
I’ve thought a lot about how technology has changed the way we relate to people, especially in an online dating context.
Jen Kim is just one commentator who makes an important point when she declares a need for courtesy and empathy in the online dating world – she laments “people don’t treat people like humans anymore!”
(Jen Kim ‘The Psychology of Ghosting’ Psychology Today July 2015)
Buried deep in the bowels of rampant consumerism, the cult of individualism and the mayhem of rapid technological change, we have lost sight of the goal.
Or maybe the goal posts have changed?
We’re not all looking for love anymore. Some are looking for entertainment, superficial titillation, or simply to pass the time. It seems to me that, as a society, we are lost. We have certainly lost sight of the shared experience and common ground that defines our humanity. Does that mean we have changed?
The myth that things never change
Technology is a funny thing. We might think it’s neutral or that it has no impact on us, that people are still basically the same regardless of whether we write a hand-written letter on scented paper, chat out loud on the phone or message via a keypad. Regardless of whether we are comfortable in an online world or only when drunk at a noisy bar, trying to pick up.
The author of the Freaksexual blog raises the idea of cultural permanency. “… we like to pretend that our culture does not change, despite incredible evidence to the contrary. There is this sort of universalizing myth, that people are essentially the same from generation to generation, even as technology advances and the outer world changes.”
The digital age has changed us in a million different ways, and now it’s changing the way we meet people, behave with them and relate to them.
In the book Mind Change, British neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, discusses the, “all-pervading technologies that now surround us, and from which we derive instant information, connected identity, diminished privacy and exceptionally vivid here-and-now experiences.” In her view they are creating a new environment, with vast implications, because our minds are physically adapting: being rewired.
The idea that our brains are changing post-internet is not new. Author of the book Capitalist Realism, philosophy lecturer Mark Fisher discusses the change he sees in today’s students.
“The consequence of being hooked into the entertainment matrix is twitchy, agitated interpassivity, an inability to concentrate or focus.”
In an article ‘The Frankenstein of social media’ Alecia Simmonds says, “You have a suspicion that it’s not just society that has changed with the digital revolution in the last three decades. It’s you: your brain, your pattern of thoughts.”
She goes on, to quote author of the book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr who investigates what effects our reading habits on the internet are having on our brains. “Your brain gets locked into new and rigid habits. It changes,” paraphrases Simmonds. ((Quoted in Australian Womankind, Aug-Oct 2015, author of the book Capitalist Realism, philosophy lecturer Mark Fisher, ‘The Frankenstein of social media’ by Alecia Simmonds who quotes author of the book The Shallows Nicholas Carr)
Blogger, Cruella deWinter raises the issue of our transience and breakdown of community relationships in the past decade or two. (Cruella deWinter ‘Your 3 Types of Fetlife Friends’ Medium.com. accessed 24 July 2017)
“Viewed in this light, it is perhaps unsurprising that social networks and dating sites have stepped in, filling our emotional need for connection and giving people a sense of belonging to a community again,” she says.
“Not only that, but it is becoming more and more difficult to conduct any part of your life without being somehow online.”
* Hannah Ellis-Petersen ‘WLTM Bumble – A dating app where women call the shots’
The Observer Technology April 2015 and ‘New Report on Dating App Trends Reveals Some Surprises’