Computer Love – relationships in the internet age
As I’m all about cross pollination of content please take the time to also check my 3 Love Themed DJ mixes which complement this article in the mixes section of this site – you can either download them there, I have also put the stream links below if you wish to listen to any of them whilst you read this article
Computers rule our lives
Like it or not computers rule our lives. We cannot go a day without computers somehow impacting on us in some way, even buying a pint of milk from the local supermarket involves the use of computers. They impact on every aspect of our existence including our love lives.
The days of swallowing your pride and meeting a partner in a bar are over – a Stanford University study has shown that online dating is now one of the most popular ways for couples to meet with 23%, overtaking meeting in bar/club/social event for the number 3 spot (with meeting through work and friends being the top 2).
Its a brave new world out there – computers are changing the ways in which we deal with and see relationships. Even “offline” relationships are being affected by the internet – think about the first time you have met someone in a bar and as well as asking for their phone number you also ask them for their Facebook and Twitter handle. The Men’s Fitness & Shape magazine annual survey found that social networking has led to both men and women having sex quicker – with 80% of women and 58% of men saying that social networking led to the bedroom quicker. The same survey also found that 63% of men and 80% of women would do recon of their dates online.
The world of online dating
The Internet era has not only made the process of dating easier but in some ways more difficult. No longer are we restricted to work, friends of friends or meeting someone in the fruit & veg aisle of Sainsbury’s (yeah I’ve been there) – this new age has made it possible to meet people everywhere & anywhere, even oceans are no longer barriers to finding a partner – online dating websites, instant messaging, Skype, smart phones and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) have made it easier to meet people all over the world as well as maintain long distance relationships.
The old stigma of online dating being for full of shy losers & bored housewives are over, this has been helped by the popularity of social media together with its integration into everyday life online dating has become a part of normal dating – the day of the lonely hearts columns is dead – no more “CUDDLY male, 35, likes food, wine, sports, comedies, evenings in/out, WLTM warm, considerate female, 30-40, NS, GSOH” – with online dating things have got a lot more complex.
There is a whole plethora of online dating sites out there utilizing a whole range of technologies. Filling out an online dating profile is no small feat and is more probing than filling in the Census. After listing your age, skin colour, hair type, personality type, eye colour, ethnicity, height, occupation, interests, habits, likes, dislikes, income, movies, etc as well as filling out the same for your perfect date, as well as writing about yourself and putting up photos – there are also the various psychological tests to match you to your perfect partner. After this the online dating system goes to work utilising a wide variety of databases, science, psychological profiling, shear bombardment and what sometimes seems truly random acts (depending on which site you use) to find your perfect match(es). The use of algorithms in online dating has become really popular – not only do they control the world, the stock market, and the pricing of books (sometimes in crazy ways), they also choose our online dating matches.
So, how has Internet dating changed the choosing of our partners? For one that initial attraction you get from someone when you meet them in the flesh for the first time is lost – if you were to line 50 people up and spoke briefly to each one, there will be something about that one – their looks, their vibe, their body language, that certain x-factor that just gets you – you loose a lot of that instant natural instinct with online dating, but its not all bad.
The flip side is that online dating has brought us unlimited possibilities – the pool of potential partners have increased exponentially, countries & continents are no longer barriers (if you so choose); those who are normally too shy in initial face to face contact can reign supreme in the world of online dating; in this age of connectivity we can online date 24/7, whether it be at your desk during whilst you should be working or from your bed when you’re sick with the flu; unlike the offline world everyone on online dating sites is single (not counting those trying to creep). There are a few downsides as well – with the high number of people on these sites it can make it hard to choose, where once before you would go with what you saw now it can be difficult to make a decision, with so many to choose from there is always the thought that there is something better out there for you; its become increasingly difficult to know if you’ll actually be attracted to the person until you meet them; it is easier for people to lie and deceive online (for an extreme think To Catch a Predator); it’s also a lot harder to use your instincts and the subtlety of facial expressions and body language are lost. You have to make decisions based on categories and photos which can be difficult; being category based rather than interaction based it can be increasing hard to make the right decisions (this has been made slightly easier by the integration of instant messaging into online dating sites).
In the beginning of 2010 I joined an online dating site (I’m not going into names but its big one). I found it very difficult to gage what a person was really about from reading their profile – a lot of the profiles were full of what I have called the Online Dating Cliches, veterans of online dating websites will know some of these. If you join online dating network it would be wise to avoid some of these:
- “i like cinema, clubs & bars, going to restaurants, galleries & museums and staying in watching a DVD” – where the hell is the detail in there? Are you into the movies of Michael Mann or Michael Bay, do you prefer Michelin restaurants or McDonalds – its impossible to ascertain anything from such an ambiguous sentence.
- “my friends have made me go this site” – it was the excuse I initially used in my profile and but deleted it when I realised a) its used on every other profile, b) since when do we need an excuse to meet people and get our mack on? Absolute madness.
- “i hate writing about myself” – nothing is more unsexy than starting off your profile with such a statement
- Skiing – I don’t know what it is about skiing that makes people want to write about it so much in their profiles but 70% of profiles I’ve read seem to have it in there like that they are some sort of super expert at the sport – if these proportions of people and skill levels were actually true the UK wouldn’t have come 19th in the last winter olympics.
- “I want a man over 6 ft” – being 6′ 3″ I’m not really complaining about this one, but don’t you know you’re restricting yourself to 15% of the population!!!
- “I love walks along the beach” – London is the the middle of the urban environment – the closest beach is 2 hours journey away and its covered in pebbles – you should mention some interests within the city (other than just writing “I like cinema, clubs & bars, going to restaurants, galleries & museums and staying in watching a DVD” of course)
- Photos: If your only photo up there is a picture where you only take up 5% of the frame and the rest is background scenery I’m going to automatically think you’re hiding something. Any profile that requires me to bring out a magnifying glass or make me use the zoom function on my laptop just to see your face automatically gets ignored. If you’re going to use pictures that were obviously taken in one of those professional studios please also add some photos in your normal environment -self admittedly I’ve been guilty of using some of my press shots in my profile, but I also have pictures of me doing a variety of things in my natural environment bar taking a dump. A lot of people used really old photos on there as well, some with date stamps still on them up to 10 years old – if you’re going to try and fool people this way (which I don’t recommend) then at least delete these date stamps!!!
Avoid these (somewhat harsh) cliches & be original as possible and you’ll be walking into some degree of online dating success. It seems online dating is much like Facebook & Myspace (if you’re still on there) where people use a filtered version of themselves for their profile, truths are bent (and sometimes broken), exaggerated and not fully told – but then again its like that question you get asked at job interview “what are you faults?” – its not like you’re going to go all out and say that you are always late for work, like to take 2 hour lunches & take dumps that stink out the whole office – no one ever really tells the whole truth in a job interview and online dating is the same. This is by no means an attack on online dating, I’m not against online dating, just like I’m not against job interviews – they are an excellent addition to offline dating, but like job interviews there are better ways to choose a candidate / partner (time and resource permitting).
I met people on this dating site that I would never normally in my wildest dreams have had a chance to meet in my offline life so for me to say it was all bad on there would be wrong – its just different. I was used to picking dates carefully with a sniper rifle and being on there was more like using a grenade. Online dating definitely takes a lot of time & effort as well as meeting many people would never be entirely sure of until you actually meet them face-to-face. As a supplement to offline dating I would never write it off.
Technology has changed relationships
Computers and the Internet have not only affected relationships in the world of online dating – they have also had profound effects on long distance relationships. Smart phones, Skype, AIM, email, satellite phones, VoIP have made it easier (and cheaper) to sustain long distance relationships. This increased connectivity has made the world smaller, together with increased travel many more people out there are in distance relationships. Having a partner in another country is no longer as difficult as it was before the days of the Internet. A long time ago I was in a long distance relationship in the earlier stages of the internet age – looking now with how much connectively and communication has increased in those 12 years – it definitely would have been a lot easier (and cheaper) to do it now than back then.
Computers are still taking further steps towards changing the way relationships work. The word “sexting” has been added to the Oxford Dictionary because of its recently prominence (and gone are words like “cassette tape”).
The dating sites like OKCupid have joined the likes of Grindr in integrating location based functionality to it’s site for use with smart phones to allow you to connect with other users within your close vicinity. For those that don’t know about Grindr it is a smart phone application huge on the gay scene that uses geolocation to show other Grindr users from the closest to the farthest. It shows, pictures & profiles of the users and allows you to also chat and send pictures. Grindr has been extremely popular and the creators have just released an application for straight people called Blendr which works on the same principles and with some added functionality.
This location based functionality and the hunt for a partner isn’t all good, it has taken a dark & somewhat sinister turn – with the iPhone app Girls Around Me. Created by the Russian based i-Free – this application pools Facebook & Foursquare data from women (who have not opted into the Girls Around Me app itself) and puts a mark on the app users Google Maps with a clickable picture of their photos, full name, the places they have been and also allows you to connect to their Facebook page. The words on the app’s website says it all – “In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand? Girls Around Me puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who’s in them, and how to reach them…“. Following the backlash to the app Foursquare have subsequently blocked it API functionality which allowed the app to run and it was later removed from iTunes. In this brave new digital world of information you really need to keep and eye on those privacy settings and make sure only your “friends” can see what you decide to share.
The latest online dating company ScientificMatch has taken things that huge step further by making matches using DNA. For a (pretty hefty) fee ScientificMatch claims that “your chance of having a satisfying sex life is higher, the odds of a woman cheating is lower, fertility rates tend to be higher, and the chances of having healthier children are higher”.
The design company CuteCircuit developed the Hug Shirt, which is a shirt with sensors all over it that measure hug pressure, skin temperature, heartbeat, about of hug time etc. It is then possible to transmit this data via mobile phones which will then connect to the recipient’s Hug Shirt via Bluetooth giving them that same hug.
Need a vibrator that can also store your spreadsheets? I present to you The Duet from Crave – the “iPod of sex toys”.
This sleek waterproof, rechargeable vibrator also doubles as a USB stick – if you’re the sort of woman that never leaves home without her vibrator – then you’ll never forget those work documents ever again – with 8GB of memory its the worlds sexiest (and work friendly) flash drive
The Kajimoto Laboratory at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo has recently developed a device that lets you French kiss over the web (well sort of)
Although quite primitive in terms of its scope the French kiss device is a step towards getting intimate with someone over a network becoming a reality. The recently released RealTouch is a masterbation device for men much like the Fleshlight with added interactivity. The device connects via USB to your computer which plays videos and the movements within the RealTouch synchronize with it. Its explained in this video (which contains some NSFW language)
Computers have changed and are changing not only the way we date but who we date, it has opened barriers and cross borders – no longer are we restricted to the people in our immediate sights and social circles – the skies are the limit, barriers of nationality, race, location are being overcome – it’s a brave new world out there