“You’re not on OkCupid? Why the hell not?”Two years ago, a colleague of mine, her mouth agape, eyes widened and brow furrowed, posed this challenge about dating in an online age: “How else are you going to meet people?”
At the time, her concerns, and the prospect itself, seemed ridiculous. Little did I know that swarms of New Yorkers had already hooked up via digital means.
So here goes my “Hi, my name is Eliza and I have ‘dabbled’ in online dating” (cue awkward shrug and eye roll) confession.
During the time that it’s taken me to become just partially cool with the whole thing, online dating has rapidly transformed.
No longer are people motivated out of desperation, a hook up or dare we say, companionship. Now, it’s all about the tribe. It’s about knowing what you want and clinging to people most like you. It’s about the shared band (or brand) of people. The mystery for the most part is gone (#tear). Just look at the new, tribe-specific sites popping up today:
– If you consider yourself a classy lady (their words, not mine), specifically, an Ivy League student, aspiring model or young actress, and you want a sugar daddy, see seekingarrangement.com or richhookup.com
– If having an affair is your thing, you’re amongst friends (well, more than friends) at ashleymadison.com
– If you want a well-endowed man (yes, no lie), try 7orBetter.com (male measurement is required)
– If you’re a music snob, find someone to share your mixed tape with at tastebuds.fm
– If politics are your thing, try politicalmate.com
– And if sports gets you hot, try MVPdate.com
So what happens now after vetting your prospective date through and through? Well, sadly, we risk losing our self, our personal brand. We put so much credence on belonging to the right cyber matchmaker that we forgo distinction and spontaneity, the very reasons we turned to online dating in the first place.
And of course we even get sick of ourselves. (Imagine you had to date yourself or go on several blind dates with yourself. I’d rather pass.)
Because remaining loyal to a brand is as much about remaining loyal to yourself. If we overlook individuality for the greater whole, how devoted can we really be? So now I can’t help but wonder—how will cyber romance fare over the next decade? Will it become so polarizing that online sites will simply offer up our ‘one and only’ (with no room for error)? How can we know who we really are, if we define ourselves by those just like us? So I ask—how will future dating brands save us from ourselves?