Online Dating; What are we Sacrificing

Today technology has made its mark on dating culture. With the tap of a finger we can depend on a smartphone to satiate any human desire, including romantic ones. But, what parts of our humanity are we sacrificing when we depend upon technology fulfil these pleasures?

Photo by Eric Pickersgill

With a rise in dating applications enabling easy access to intimacy, the way we love and make love, arguably of the most intimate human experiences, has ultimately conformed to our technological habitat. Today there is potential for purely digital relationships: two people could match on tinder, get to know each other via Facebook, send snapshots of their daily lives on Snapchat, and Facetime that night while making love using app controlled sexual pleasure toys — this relationship could exist between two people in two separate countries.

Dating apps accommodate to so many different dating styles, most people are not aware of the scope of dating apps. More mainstream applications like Tinder, OKCupid and Bumble, are applications that allow you to connect to people in your radius that you may be interested in based on extremely little information. These applications can be used for finding relationships or casual hook-ups, though users get creative and there are people looking for 3 sums or other sexual excursion, though OKCupid claims to solely be centered on true love.

On Tinder there is a feature to ‘Super Like’, and there is a group setting where you can connect to larger groups. You can pay extra to connect to people in other locations. Since Tinder has such a large following, your search for love may be interrupted by an ad for something to purchase — their picture and an advertisement are being put on an equal playing field. What is that saying?

Dating applications are becoming so instant Happn allows you to track someone you simply walk by. That easy. You walk past someone you think is cute and can find them on Happn. If you were to download this application, it would use your GPS to track you. Instead of walking up to someone of interest and striking conversation, engaging in a human activity, the flirtation is reduced to the realm of technology.

There is an app called Vice that connects you to people with a high income. Along with photos, you enter your income and the income you expect of your significant other. There is an app called SugarD with the same purpose. Enough said.

It is now, more than ever, easy to cheat on your significant other using technology. There is as Ashley Madison dating apps allowing for people in relationships to have no-strings-attached hook ups, their slogan being “Life is short. Have an affair.” According to Wired, 42% of Tinder users aren’t even single. They conducted the graph below exemplifying demographics of Tinder used:

Matty Silver, an Australian relationship counsellor and sex therapist conducted a study about How Technology is Affecting our Relationships and Sex Lives which she wrote about for the Sydney Morning Herald — here, she describes an absurd dating solution supported by technology:

“But the most unusual dating solution must be the Hook-up Truck, created by San Francisco-based conceptual artist Spy Emerson. She designed a vehicle which looks like a standard delivery truck, equipped with a temperature controlled special room with a bed, mood lighting and condoms.The truck can be booked online and driven and parked to any agreed-upon location. Apparently having sex in a truck, appeals to a wide variety of people. I wonder how long it will take to have an Australian version of the “safe sex hook-up truck?”

Even artists are joining in on this trend, using their art to enable fast and easy sexual pleasure. With all of these platforms to find significant others the dating as depicted by literature and poetry is being replaced with dating as a form of technology. How much of the true human experience is lost when the relationship is founded upon the Internet? Furthermore, these applications are allowing intimacy to be found in an instant and challenging the patience and prudence of our past. It is difficult to call this ‘wrong’, especially since as a society we are now more accepting of sexuality than we have ever been. It also seems that many people find pleasure and success in these types of relationships — that being said, it is easy to recognise that the dating game that I am living in is vastly different to dating culture my parents experienced. I do not hesitate to call it a game because that is what dating has become today — the equivalent to a video game.

Not only in terms of seeking a significant other, but also in the ways that the relationships exists and romantic communication via technology. Accounts on social media make it extremely easy for someone to virtually ‘stalk’ their partners ex, promoting unhealthy jealousy that isn’t beneficial for the relationship. This sense of comparability to someone else may limit your truth, and you begin living in a shadow of someone else. Alongside to that your profile is also accessible to others. This means that at any stage of the relationship, what you do and do not share on social accounts have proven to be an unnecessary cause of relationships tensioning. In the words of Silver, “It’s not difficult to believe that people touch their smart phones more than they touch their partners.” It’s true that is is sadly believable.

Photo by Eric Pickersgill

Not only has sex now become so readily available, but porn culture has made virtual pleasure, especially for men, easy to obtain. Porn represents an unrealistic and specific interpretation of intercourse. As they consume these ideas they form unrealistic expectations of sex, and when the act of intercourse falls short may put a damper upon a couple’s sexual relationship. Quoted from Huffington Post, first published in 2011 by New York Magazine, best selling author, Davy Rothbart addressed this issue:

“A conundrum emerges. Men, oversaturated by porn, secretly hunger for the variety that porn offers. Women, noticing a decline in their partners’ libidos, try to reenact the kinds of scenes that men watch on their computer screens. Men, as a result, get really freaked out.”

That isn’t to say these applications or technology in general can’t have a positive outcomes upon relationships. Many people thank technology for keeping their relationship alive through times of physical distance, and it would be naïve not to recognise the tons of online success stories, which wouldn’t have happened without such access. Another huge plus side to online dating is it’s acceptance of gender and gender fluidity, with different apps catering to different forms of relationships. It allows for all people to explore their sexuality without limitations.

It is a huge moment in the future of dating, and inventions are only increasing with applications making all pleasures this easily accessible. While finding someone seems to be as easy as breathing, maintaining a relationship of trust is changing and adapting with new inventions. The question I ask is why are we letting our human nature adapt to man made inventions, and not vice versa?