Willing to Host: Romance in the Digital Age

Written by BlackbirdGo February 12, 2019
The People

Interacting efficiently with other human beings in a way that represents your truest self is, well, tough. I don’t know much in this life; honestly, I don’t really know shit about shit—physical chemistry and social cues being at the top. But I can confidently say that online dating and dating apps, as they continue to become more expansive, are becoming inescapable and the experiences they generate can be weird as hell. Both of those statements can be good things, truly. Especially if you’re into the weird stuff. Some might argue that things aren’t like they used to be when it comes to meeting someone new, and that’s just fine by me. Online interaction has become incredibly convenient for a million reasons, namely as a buffer for social anxiety and a huge time saver. Everything I want to display about myself can be judged swiftly and from a safe distance, everyone I’m interested in approaching can be filtered through in more ways than I would have even imagined without assistance, and I can save time searching for my next romantic interest by multitasking while I poop. What’s not to love? There’s also a ton of different dating outlets, each one with their own pros and cons. Some of them I hadn’t even heard of until I started researching for this article. If you’re really on the prowl for some meaty interaction for the month of February, you can tailor your search and how you want to be seen on each site or app accordingly, and you can really cover all of your bases by using multiple platforms at once. So, standing in the middle of this algorithmic sexual buffet, I find myself asking, “Which one’s best for me?”

The Meet Market

There are a ton of options for human window shopping, desktop and app alike. Too many to list, so Iet’s just talk about some popular free ones (Each site/app does have some subscription functions, which do unlock some cool features, but I think I speak for everyone when I say free is free—let’s lock and load).

Popular, free functions and subscription options:
- Tinder
- OkCupid
- Plenty of Fish
- Grindr
- Bumble
- FetLife

Lesser known, honorable mentions:
- FarmersOnly (dating for rural folks)
- Awake Dating (conspiracy theorists connect)
- Equestrian Singles (horse lovers say hey)
- Clown Dating (large shoes, red noses)

That’s just a small portion of the results that come up when you search for dating and hook-up sites... so, like, there’s really something for everyone out there. Each one has different elements, but they all allow you to feature photos of yourself, post a bio to express to people who you are and what you’re looking for, and to match and message a person if you’re interested in them. Once you’ve found a platform that suits you, you’ve then got potentially thousands of people to choose from. Can that be a bad thing? Maybe. The US Association of Psychological Science found that “reviewing multiple candidates causes people to be more judgmental, and inclined to dismiss a not-quite-perfect candidate than they otherwise would be in a face-to-face meeting.” This is a common opinion held by many who perpetuate online/app dating stigmas; too many choices lead to indecision, hiding in the web makes it harder to pull the trigger, and succumbing to the hypnotism of your screen makes you less likely to actually approach people in a real life setting. My experiences have given me almost the exact opposite opinion (and some studies contain data that doesn’t show negative repercussions for people who meet partners online), but everyone is different. I think the hardest thing to find on dating/hook-up sites is authenticity. Yeah, people lie. A lot and often. Physical appearance is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about fraudulent profile activity. Catfishing (fake photos/identity) is something that can be avoided when you trade in the internet for finding people to talk to out in public. However, the positive side of utilizing the internet is being able to search for exactly what you’re interested in. If you’re authentically putting yourself out there, people (for the most part) have a decent foundation of what they’re going to experience with you in real life—what you look like, what you’re interested in, what you’re looking for in another person, etc. I think having that initial introduction gives people more confidence in actual social interaction. If you just want to have sex, you can find other people who are looking for that same experience. If you’re looking for someone to spend forever with, you can slap those characters into a profile and describe your ideal wedding venue in a DM. This pre-work is already done for you, and you can determine some level of compatibility without wasting your time, money, and effort over the course of five useless dates. Is that superficial? Yeah, but we’re all kind of superficial anyway, and online dating has just streamlined it.

Swipe, Like, Whatever

As I said, I don’t know much about a lot of things, and a lot of things confuse me. We put a lot of weird commercial weight on this time of year when it comes to finding people we want to connect with. Courtship has changed, as does everything that follows the path of linear time. I’m really a huge proponent of meeting people through the internet. Some people crave “old school” romance through the channels of nostalgia, and I think we can still find that without cursing the new means of achieving that vision. It’s not all ideal, there’s a huge mass of shit to sift through to find exactly what we’re looking for, and we’re gonna have to deal with some weird stuff along the way. But, once you get through all of that weird stuff, it can be worth it. You can still forge meaningful relationships without fearing technology and what that means for the future. You just have to know what you’re looking for

Disclaimer: Keep out of reach of children. For use only by adults 21 years of age and older.