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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…Well, not that long ago (1993), and not too far away, I was using AOL (America Online) to sign onto this new invention called the Internet using my phone line. From there I would enter what were called “chat rooms” to talk to new people who had similar interests. Once I got used to the chat rooms, I started to meet people in person. Back then, this was just crazy.
I remember the first time I had a date from the Internet, I was with my best friend Kirk, and we met two girls from an AOL chat room. I was 16 years old and didn’t have my own car yet. I had just gotten my learners permit. My mom had to drop us off at the mall to meet them! The picture I received from one of the two girls was a scanned in picture (no digital cameras or social networks to see her). Luckily she looked like her one picture. Needless to say that was the only time I saw her.
As time went on, I was intrigued with the idea that I could meet people from the Internet, so I kept doing it. I did it so often that I became sort of an expert on meeting people or dating from the Internet. Eventually dating websites became a thing and I started to use those as well. Now 22 years later, I could easily write a book about my adventures in online dating. But for now, I’ll keep it short and tell you about the 10 things I learned through my time using the Internet as a way to meet people and go on dates:
- Dating is absurdly convenient: What used to be a tedious process of scanning in photos, filling out enormously long profiles, emailing incessantly back and forth, and finally meeting someone after weeks of ridiculous conversations has turned into just a swipe away from a quick chat and meeting someone in person.
- The majority of singles don’t take dating seriously: So yes, it’s convenient, but that also makes people not take it seriously. Being a swipe away from meeting someone means that singles now realize they have options. Those options make people not settle for someone like they used to, because they think there’s always something better with another right-swipe.
- Picture technology has helped a little: Back in the day you’d have to scan in your printed photos with a scanner and transfer them to your computer to add to your dating profile. With the advent of digital cameras and then smartphones, it’s much easier to add your photos to dating sites. But the downside is the “Catfish” syndrome, whereas people are also fixing up their photos to look like J-lo or Magic Mike.
- People are less skeptical: When I was using AOL to meet people, it took a really long time to meet them in person after having a lot of phone conversations. Typically, girls wouldn’t meet me unless they were with a group of friends and I brought a group of guy friends, so that they felt more comfortable. We pretty much always met at a mall because it was a super public place. Nowadays, people are less afraid to meet in person, because you can easily look up their Facebook profile or Instagram, and see what they’re like. Plus, with Facebook, you see how many mutual friends you have, and you might even know the same people, and can ask them what they are like (and if you think you’re a match).
- Personalities still don’t come through: Even after 22 years, dating online is still the same as it was back in 1993. You still don’t know what someone’s personality is like, you still only get to read a profile, or look at some pictures. After all this time, you would think things would move more toward showcasing someone’s personality as opposed to their written idea of it. I guess that’s why after all these years I found a huge gap and I’m trying to fill it.
People are a lot more superficial and materialistic: Back when this whole thing started, it was easy to meet people at a mall as friends and just walk around, talk over a slice of pizza, or maybe go to a movie or an arcade (yeah we used to have arcades before video game consoles!). Now, when I take a woman on a date, they typically expect at least a couple of drinks or dinner, and guys spending $60, without a care in the world on whether or not they will see them again. Sure, I go on coffee or ice cream dates, but dating has fundamentally changed focus from meeting a new friend with the potential for more, to a “first date experience”.
- Education, job, car, home: Originally when I would meet people, of course I was younger, but I noticed that girls didn’t care about where I went to school, or what my job was, or what kind of car I had, or where I lived. Even after dating sites became more mainstream (with the exception of eHarmony), it was really down to personality and physical attraction first and foremost. Nowadays, girls won’t meet certain guys (and vice versa) if they don’t have a college degree or if they don’t have a nice car, or don’t have a really nice house, or an amazing income. What if you are an artist who doesn’t believe in polluting the earth with your cars’ emissions, and would rather rent a studio apartment? All I’m saying, is if you strip away the modern world’s superficiality and instead focused on the most basic level of human attraction, wouldn’t you find your true love a lot easier?
- Dating has gone mobile: I used to sit in front of a little Apple computer with a black and white screen to talk in chat rooms, and then more advanced computers during my college years to talk to people. Now I carry around a smartphone computer with video, photos, social networks, texting, phone calls, etc. Dating is now being done from the palm of your hand which speeds up the process. What used to take me weeks or even months to do sitting at a desk I can do in seconds or minutes while at a coffee shop, or while walking my dog.
- People are actually meeting the one: Years ago you would hear stories of people who spoke to each other from online sites for months across the country, and then would finally meet and get married. Now people meet their match every day. More and more people are getting married from online dating sites. It used to be that you would meet a partner, and date them for years. Now you might have a new partner every few months, and the new options (partner) never run out. There’s a reason 30% to 50% of all marriages end in divorce. People used to just settle for someone to avoid being alone. Now you are never alone, there is always someone around the corner waiting for you.
- Sex has become a hobby: Let’s face it, with all these dating sites, and options, people are having way more sex (with a lot more people). Back in the day, you would be lucky if you had sex with just one person in a year. Now, people are “trying out more flavors” to find one they like. Sex is healthy, it’s exercise, and now it has become somewhat of a hobby. It’s something you fit into your schedule, whether you are dating or not. You might think to yourself that you don’t have plans Saturday night, so now you can swipe right to find a sex partner. You don’t have to be married or be in a relationship to have sex, and it’s actually not a bad thing. Because once you are married or in a relationship the sex dwindles in frequency anyway.
So there you have it folks, what I’ve observed in the past 22 years of being an expert in online dating. For those of you who are older, you might relate to some of these points, and for those that are younger, you’ll probably agree. Enjoy the convenience of mobile dating, smartphones, the Internet, and swiping to your next partner. Be safe out there!