Dating in the Digital Age


Are there new rules now that technology has overrun our lives?  Do you still wait 3 days to call someone?  Do you like someone’s picture on Facebook?  Do you include them in a Snapchat?  Text has become our modus operandi.  Why?  It’s safe to reach out to someone over text and it’s so much easier to let them go over it.  Rejection is best served over emoji.  I like you, but as a friend.  Smiley emoji followed by heart followed by gun?  Actually, when my boyfriend called me for a date, I let it go to voicemail and texted him back because I panicked.  I texted him like a normal person who just happened to miss his call by chance.  The reality was that I was not comfortable with talking over the phone and texting gave me more time to craft my response.  For English-major nerds like me, this is the golden age of dating because I live for the written word.

We can be anyone we want. Appear to be witty.  Respond casually to show how much we don’t care.  And show how interested we are by what we put out in social media.  The dating inferences have just changed to digital.  In the past, we would actually just show up with our interest, but now, we can gauge each other’s interest by what we display on social media.  Did she just friend me accidently and then unfriend me?  Oh, yeah, you wants the D.  So our flirting is online.  Our interests are displayed online.  And our rejections are online.  And we can be harsh and unrelenting because the internet allows us to distance ourselves from actual people.  Now, people can end relationships by text and just erase their whole relationship picture by picture a la Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind.  But who do we really erase when we do this?

We’re always in the habit of presenting our best selves, so we are constantly editing the online versions of ourselves.  Sometimes, we erase whole stretches of time from our lives because we don’t want to be reminded of an ex.  This can be cathartic or hurtful, but it allows us to have more control of our lives and we want to protect these carefully curated versions of who we are.  Although we intrude our lives into media, we must be careful to not let media intrude on our lives.  What does that mean?  We are free to post and text what we want, but when it comes to actual moments, we should live them IRL, including the good and the bad, because when you look back, you don’t want to remember scenes where you dumped someone over text but in person.  In the digital age, these things are merely tools to enhance our lives and means to convey our thoughts, but they should not act as our avatars.

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