I remember when dating changed for me. I remember the exact moment. It was in 2006 when Facebook was just starting to blow up in England. Until that moment, the only technology that I used in the dating game was my phone and a bit of MSN messenger. MSN was good because of all the little emoticons, especially the filthy ones (which I feel are lacking on my current emoji keyboard!) but it wasn’t a way to start anything. No, these were the days when hooking up for a date meant that you had to go up to a girl in person, prepare yourself, steel your courage, and enter the battlefield, knowing a crippling rejection could be about to destroy your confidence. Many a soldier was lost to the abyss of the dating garbage heap in that way. But then Facebook happened. And the game was forever changed.
I remember the moment because it was the first time I’d ever reached out to a girl that I’d not really spoken to in person, and tried to get something going. I’d seen her around and knew instantly that I had to have her and yet, for the first time I decided to not go up to her but to approach through an online message;
‘miss Chambers, it occured to me the uver nite, that I really dont know u well enough to come an chat to ya, sooooooooooo….hi.’
And thus began a sexy if turbulent romance that eventually turned into an awesome friendship. But from that moment on the parameters for how to hook up with a girl changed for me. And I wasn’t the only one. Facebook stalking, likes, pokes, it was all the rage. But that was just the start.
Now fast forward 9 years and the dating scene has become less reality, and more virtual reality. People obviously still meet up in the traditional sense, but if you haven’t used some kind of dating site or app to meet someone, then I bet you know someone who has. It’s just the norm now. There used to be a stigma that went with using a dating site to find romance, almost like it made the person desperate. No longer. Nowadays it’s a rarity to find someone who hasn’t swiped right or at least created a profile on one site or another.
The reason for all this? Because it’s easy. Think about it, every technological breakthrough we make has something to do with making things easier for us. We want voice controlled T.V’s and computers so we don’t have to get up to change the channel or game. It’s no longer enough to have a nice camera, nice phone and nice pocket gaming device; now it has to all be in one. Even cars have devices that bring the seat belt to you. THE SEAT BELT!!! The minuscule movement it takes to reach back and pull the seat belt has now become too much effort and so a tiny device that brings it forward to your waiting hand is now deemed a selling point. And you know what, I really liked it when I used a car that did that! Why? the same reason, Tinder and WhatsApp are so popular on the dating scene. It’s so fucking easy!
Whether or not you want to live in a world where dating has been reduced to a swipe or two blue ticks is one thing, but that’s where we are. How else could the term ‘Netflix and chill’ become something that is normal. For those that don’t know, if someone invites you to ‘Netflix and chill’, they are not asking you to come and have a Game Of Thrones marathon and a snuggle. They want to bang with the TV on in the background. It’s just a way to say it without actually saying it.
So in a nutshell, we see the progression of the dating scene. Whereas in the past, boy met girl, they spoke, got on, arranged a date, went on said date and if it went well, either made a night of it or arranged a second one, we now have a culture in which technology fused with a willingness to accept an easier route to potential love/lust has meant that you can end up having sex with someone you think you really like, without ever actually having gone on a proper date. For example, you match with someone on Tinder and have a bit of flirty banter. You both decide the banter is of sufficient quality that you can move it to WhatsApp. Having got to know each other a bit better and probably exchanged photos and more than likely some risqué messages (because everyone is braver through a phone right!), you then decide to take it to the next level and meet up. This can be any kind of date of course, but it is often resulting in a sex orientated movie night. It’s all just so easy.
Never before have we been as free to be sexually expressive and now we have the tools to allow us to exploit this freedom. Whether or not the ease with which we can hook up via new less personal methods is a good thing or not is another discussion. Some say it cheapens the whole idea of dating or that we are so obsessed with the physical that we are throwing people on the virtual scrap heap from a look at one picture. But then on the other hand, I know people in happy relationships that met through online services, and I know plenty of people that having been in relationships, want an outlet to have some quick fun.
At the end of the day, it’s people getting to know people. It changes and evolves. Whether for good or bad, I leave up to you, but one things for sure, there’s no escaping the fact that the dating game has changed forever.
And for your viewing pleasure, check out some of these gems! 😂