The Proliferation of Choice: Options, Online Dating, & The ‘Right’ One

The Internet and the wealth of information that is allows access to every single day has changed people’s lives drastically. The increase in available information has lead us to a point where we are often overwhelmed with choice — where to live, where to eat, what new phone or gadget to get, and even who to be with. At the beginning of his book Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari explains that before the Internet and the explosion of technology, people simply did not have the choices that we have today. He interviews people who stayed in the same state or town, married someone from the same area, had kids, and lived the rest of their lives in that same little space. This story line is far too familiar. My grandparents, both Italian immigrants, grew up within blocks of each other in the North End of Boston. They met, my grandfather says it was ‘love at first sight’, they moved to another area of Boston, had kids, and still live in the same house they spent their whole adult lives in.

Online dating has revolutionized how people today find love, or perhaps lust. Every online dating site or app is filled with hundreds, even thousands, of options. I think that there is definitely a generational divide about online dating. Growing up with the Internet, we were told never meet someone you met online. They could be dangerous, a kidnapper, or a serial killer. However today, there are millions and millions of happy couples that met online. Online dating gives you the resources to meet so many new people, and I find that younger people are taking full advantage of that fact. Instead of being confined to the same town with the same people that you’ve grown up with your whole life, online dating lets you access, essentially, the rest of the world. I was aware, but had never experienced first hand this generational divide about how people view online dating until I was studying abroad in London and went on a date. And then I told my mom. At first she was horrified — “You met a stranger on the internet?? What if he abducted you?? You met him on what?? Is that a sex app??” I then explained (or attempted to explain) to her that thousands and thousands of people go on dates with people they met online, some of them even get happily married. I told her that my friends and roommates were both tracking my location in the very highly unlikely circumstance that something bad did happen. Still, she wasn’t satisfied, so I also explained that British people are nicer, and generally better than Americans.

I well aware of the idea of the proliferation of choice, but up until this past week, I didn’t know what to call it. As I graduate from UNH is less than two weeks, I feel as though the anxiety that I am feeling is all due to the proliferation of choice. There are an infinite number of paths that I can take after graduation, each of them having their own versions of roses and thorns. Society has taught not only me, but all of my peers, that there is a perfect version of your life and a perfect path to take. There is a perfect someone out there for you — your soul mate. With all of these paths that are leading me to all of these different cities around the world — how do I know where to go and what choices to make?

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