Bars are just Tinder without an easy Swipe Left Option

11 Feb

by Stacie Smack

Recently, I’ve noticed a surge in online/media commentary about online dating. This may have to do with the fact that I have a Google alert on the topic and exclusively follow online dating-related Tweeters. But it may also have to do with the fact that online dating is here to stay, and we’re starting to accept it as a “mainstream” way of meeting people.

I was discussing online vs. offline dating with my therapist (a 75 year old man). His first question was “who uses online dating?” Oh boy, was this going to be fun. There are just about a billion answers, but in classic Stacie fashion, I’ll stereotype and simplify and indirectly not answer the question but pretend to answer it.

I think online dating allows us to meet people in a protected environment. I use the word “protected” with some caveats. Obviously connecting with a total stranger whose physical existence you can’t confirm does not imply protection (I’m not going to scare you with stories, but contact me and I will direct you to some fun reads).

What I mean by protected is that online dating allows you, the user, to present your best self or the self you wish you were. More importantly, an online dating site/app gives you time to think. The prime example being at a bar: if someone asks you “so, what do you do?”, you can’t take a minute or two to craft a response. That would be weird. Online however, you can take all the time in the world to properly describe your job without sounding boring, or too passionate, or whatever it is that usually happens, because the appropriate response window is slower than the “conversational” rate.

None of this answers the who question. But at least it contextualizes the conversation. Maybe?

The next question was “why do you need that kind of protection?” To me the answer seemed fairly obvious. It’s because we have no idea who the person in front of us (at a bar) is. We know nothing about this person. We approach a total and complete stranger, and somehow we have to create natural flowing interesting conversation with someone who may or may not have things in common with us or potential for “compatibility”.

He concluded that nowadays, our generation is constantly surrounded by complete strangers. My therapist is a Latin man probably in his late 70’s who’s been married for a while. He spent most of his life in the same town. He knew his neighbors, he knew the people at his synagogue, everyone knew someone in common WE (you and I) don’t necessarily have that.

We kind of form communities at work, or at kickball, or at book club, or at whatever extracurricular activity you partake in. But there’s a limited number of people we meet at these places, and it’s kind of hard to just go up to one of these people and say “introduce me to your friends since it’s probably easier to successfully date someone who knows you”. So instead we go to bars and try to say hi to strangers.

In his time apparently, you knew who were the good and bad apples, generally speaking. Today at a bar, we don’t know if the guy we’re going to say hi is a pump-and-dump sort of guy or a long-term sort of guy, or if he’s going to make you pay for expensive dinners and never call you again. But we’re not deterred by this uncertainty. It’s part of the gamble of dating and meeting people, and it’s a risk we’re willing to take if it means not becoming a cat lady. Wouldn’t it be nice if every guy just wore a shirt with basic facts about him printed? Single, Non-smoker, bacon-lover, owns a dog, favorite movie is 300. At a glance, we would make some judgements and assumptions and the stranger would become just a little less… strange?

Enter, online dating. Even the newer, less labor intensive sites like Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, and Tinder require some basic information about the user. They also link to the user’s facebook and take advantage of what it means to have “friends in common” nowadays. The mere fact of having a facebook is today seen as proof of existence – we are more likely to trust an online profile that’s associated with a facebook profile. How many fake facebook profiles do we come across normally? No that many I would think. Beyond that, we get a handful of facts that are likely to spark interest (or flag for removal…) Yeah, people like to focus on the shallowness of some of these apps, as our decision making process is primarily based on photos. But how different is that from how you decide to approach someone at a bar? Neither is a perfect system, but both are available choices.

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2 Responses to “Bars are just Tinder without an easy Swipe Left Option”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bars are just Tinder without an easy Swipe Left Option | TinderNews - February 11, 2014

    […] Read the original here: Bars are just Tinder without an easy Swipe Left Option […]

  2. Give The Dweeb A Chance | STOP REQUESTED - March 27, 2014

    […] I’m giving the dweeb a chance. After two years of crazy hook ups, bad online dates, and being strung along by the love of my life (HA), I decided to take a break. It’s almost like […]

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