New Yorker Piece on Online Dating – Part One
“Online Dating: Sex, Love, and Loneliness on the Internet” is a very intriguing article by Nick Paumgarten in the New Yorker which examines online dating as it was, and as it is now, in the uncanny way that is so classically New Yorker. The next two days we’ll take a look at the article and break it down into “TL;DR” format, keeping all the important info while dropping a bit of the flowery (re: New Yorker) language.
The article starts by delving into the history of online match making – something we often ignore as we’re in the business of looking to the future. It discusses online dating’s roots all the way back in 1964 at the World’s Fair, and its long and winding road to as we know it today – an almost limitless pool of possibilities and niches that make choosing a dating site almost as difficult as finding your actual match.
The most telling line in the first part of the article comes in discussion of why online dating was a necessity in the first place, saying it was an attempt to recreate the college experience for those who do not pair off in college…
A city also has abundance and access, especially for the young, but as people pair off, and as they corral themselves, through profession, geography, and taste, into cliques and castes, the range of available mates shrinks. We run out of friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. You can get to thinking that the single ones are single for a reason.
Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and that is what online dating seeks to make known. Just because someone is single and looking in the late 20s or 30s doesn’t make them undatable. There are countless reasons why a perfectly normal, lovable person might still be on the prowl after most of their peers have settled down.
Furthermore, the article reminds us that
‘Internet dating’ is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t date online, you meet people online. It’s a search mechanism.
This, I believe is a very misunderstood fact about online dating that maybe steers many singles away, if they believe online dating to be nothing more than meeting and starting a relationship with someone in a chat room like back in the 90s.
The purpose of the dating site is to forge a connection that might not have been possible in the real world, to give each of the potential mates a small glance into the personality of their match, help them through the initial stages of the communication, and then open up the door to a real life relationship. The purpose is not to create a strange online relationship where the couple never have to see each other in real life. That’s what Second Life is for.
Paumgarten goes on to discuss an apparent disadvantage of dating sites (well, dating in general) – that there is a disjoint in the age and type of men and women on the site. As he says, men generally go for younger women, and the pool of men who are looking for women their age or older aren’t usually the type you’d want to start a relationship with. This problem will probably never cease to exist, but it is one that older women are likely accustomed to.
The first half of Nick Paumgarten’s article shows that online dating carries less of a stigma these days, even from a guy who has never tried it. We look forward to the rest!
Check back tomorrow for the second part of our analysis of the New Yorker’s article on internet dating!