It’s difficult to meet people on campus organically, because everyone is too sewn to their phones and thinking of what their next move is going to be on Instagram or Snapchat. A lot of 20-somethings may just look for a hookup, however, there are college students who look-or-are looking for something a little more serious and mature.
Online networking is incredibly easy to meet people, but to meet potential lovers is tough. You can’t tell if someone is interested, not interested or just being a creep. If it doesn’t work out romantically, there is no shame in befriending an ex-potential date. You may still be compatible, just not the way you had originally intended to be.
Emily Friedman, a sophomore English major at the Metropolitan State University of Denver said:
“I have only used online dating sites and apps such as Tinder very infrequently, but I have gone on a couple of dates thanks to these sites, and I can say that a date with someone you met online and a date with someone you met, let’s say, at the grocery store have a very different feel. The basic human skills you get from having a conversation with a stranger, such as eye movement, posture, vocal inflection, etc. is completely lost when meeting an individual via internet,” Friedman said.
According to Friedman, text on a screen can tell you people’s opinions, their favorite kinds of things, what their hopes and dreams are, but it cannot let you know if you will talk over each other in conversation, what they will sound like, or if you all will have any kind of chemistry.
“This leads to a lot of disappointing dates. I have yet to have a date be fulfilling both emotionally and physically. Sometimes one, usually neither. You may say that this could be me being too picky, but from my experience, the dates always feel like trying to put on a glove that is just too small. You can pretend the glove is fitting, and you could probably get away with it for a little bit, but your hand will become uncomfortable after a little while,” Friedman added.
Despite the risk of online dating, Friedman still holds hope and faith within her that someday she will find the perfect match.
“With that being said, I really enjoy the idea of meeting people who match what you want on paper. I do think online dating has its place, and apparently it works for a lot of people, and it opens you up to a sea of available people looking for the same thing you are, but something is lost when meeting people online. Maybe whatever it is can be gained back through something long term, but I have never made it that far. I guess you just have to keep trying,” Friedman said.
Nowadays it’s considered strange meeting someone at a bar more romantic than finding them online. Users of dating apps are actually being proactive about finding someone. Online dating shouldn’t feel “artificial” because it is just an alternative way to meet people.
According to Zachery Simms, senior English major at the Metropolitan State University of Denver:
“Online dating, in my opinion, is a great concept, and might actually work for many people, but the thing is – attraction, especially for women, isn’t just about looks. A man can be very handsome but still ‘the one’ for her because his behavior is off putting (arrogant, not manly, whatever reason). And since online dating, is at first based on looks, it’s an imperfect system but hey, I guess it filters out a lot of people for you and it might actually cause you to end up with someone great.”
People feel super nervous meeting someone online for the first time because you never know if you’re just going to be friends or something more. Eye contact is one of the first ways to tell if someone likes you, and that can be a tricky gesture to understand clearly. If you don’t like them or they don’t like you, it’s not a big deal at all. If you do like each other, you’re connected immediately. Once it’s settled that you both like each other, why wouldn’t you say hello?
“Just don’t think that setting up a list of wishes and demands for you partner and putting it through the dating website will deliver you the perfect partner. That’s just not how attraction/love works. It’s still a decent way to meet people though, but people are too obsessed with meeting someone perfect that they don’t really pay attention to what’s out there,” Simms said.
Online dating is clearly a positive thing that has brought millions of people together who otherwise may never have had the opportunity to meet. Studies have shown that couples who meet online get married sooner and have more satisfying relationships. This shows that for those who are clear with their intentions and about they look for in a partner, online dating helps people do just that.
But there are obviously numerous problems that lead to many people being very frustrated with the medium, and abandoning it entirely.
Jessica Pearson, a senior philosophy student at the Metropolitan State University of Denver said:
“I was on Tinder for a couple of days earlier this year and then quickly unsubscribed when I realized my ‘swipe-right rules’ were pretty exclusive and defeated the whole purpose anyway. You’re basing preferences on photos alone so I quickly started saying “no” if any of the following were in (or prominent in) their photos: guns, cars, trucks, excessive drinking, smoking, tattoos, nudity, boobs (yep, in guys profiles, their “friends” boobs were quite common). So many photos had all of these at once it was almost laughable. It made me a very content single. I was happily not associating with any of these douchebags, and would happily continue this way.”
Online dating needs serious help from behavioral psychologists to address a lot of the frustrations people have with it. The fact that the online dating companies have an incentive for its members to stay single and active on their platforms is also a tricky hurtle to overcome.
“It sounds judgmental but the whole concept is judgmental, photos alone can never describe someone. And people become more or less attractive to me based on their personality.
In theory I agree that online dating is a good way to overcome being stuck in a rut of your friends, and friends of friends, but take up a new hobby or two and you’re guaranteed to meet new people you’ll at least somewhat get along with. And worst-case you end up with a new skill. Or suggest a beer with a workmate that you think you might have a spark. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned,” Pearson said.
Those students who have tried online dating offer mixed opinions about the experience. Most have a positive outlook, even if they recognize certain downsides.
Users of online dating are generally positive but far from universally so about the pros and cons of dating digitally. On one hand, a majority of online dating users agree that dating digitally has distinct advantages over other ways of meeting romantic partners:
80 percent of students who have used online dating agree that online dating is a good way to meet people.
On the other hand, a substantial minority of these users agree that meeting people online can have potential negative consequences:
25 percent of students agree that online dating is more dangerous than other ways of meeting people. And that online dating keeps people from settling down, because they always have other options for people to date.
Overall, students who have used online dating tend to have similar views of the pros and cons with one major exception relating to personal safety. 45 percent of women who have used online dating, however, agree that it is more dangerous than other ways of meeting people.
Perhaps, the tricky part of meeting people online is that it only broadens the pool of people to choose from but does not help too much with the actual choosing phase, or any other phase of building a relationship. Not to say that the offline world cannot be deceiving, but wouldn’t you rather be certain that it will never be as deceiving as the online one is? What bothers people sometimes is the superficiality of our lives and online dating tends to encourage illusions.
Nothing tears a heart apart worse than illusions.
This article was written for an investigative reporting class at MSU Denver.