Social media is an excellent way to stay connected with family members and friends. Venues such as Facebook and Twitter are designed to bring people closer by providing a steady and continuous outlet for human connection. However, with the power and sense of security that technology grants us, the ability to be truly connected to other human beings is becoming more difficult and scarce. Enter the paradox that we live in as entitled, technologically powerful, and fearless abusers of the ease of access to conversing with other humans. Thousands, probably even millions of people degrade others on the internet on a daily basis, without reason and without knowing the person that the comments are directed at in real life.
Without question most people want to find the ultimate form of human connection, the kind that lasts a lifetime. People want to love someone and they want to be loved in return. Naturally, the amount of time spent staring at screens throughout the day, has led to meeting a potential mate online intriguing and likely. People love technology so finding someone to love through technological means is understandable. An estimated one-third of all marriages today begin online. Studies have also shown that in less than a decade or two, more than half of romantic relationships will start on the internet. Dating sites and apps are rampant and rapidly growing in prevalence and use. Along with popular dating sites, there are apps like Tinder, which allows users to swipe to right if they like the person they are looking at or swipe left if they do not. Essentially, it is a glorified "hot or not" and uses superficial qualities to completely judge whether or not you want to talk to someone, based on looks alone. The notion that this app exists allows people to feel okay by judging someone on physical appearance alone.
This writer is not claiming to be immune to these ideas and feelings. After personally experimenting with dating sites, including Tinder, the reality of what we as human beings have turned into is startling. As a member of the millennial generation, the group most commonly using the internet to meet significant others, some conclusions can be drawn about the benefits and disheartening realities of trying to find love online.
Happy marriages that lead to new families can be found online, there is no disputing that claim. Relationships that are beautiful in their own way but do not last more often occur, just as all forms of romantic relationships result in, regardless of their origin. This writer has been in a serious relationship founded on a dating site, as well as been on numerous good dates that turned into friendships instead. So how is technology hampering romantic relationships?
Connecting with someone online is incredibly easy, but alternatively, disconnecting from someone completely is just as simple. When your mother told you that people can be cruel, she was certainly correct. People hide behind their screens, saying things both good and bad that they would not say upon first meeting a person in the conventional, old-fashioned way. The ups are too high and the lows are too low, similar to a drug addict. Yes, meeting people online is similar to the feeling of experimenting with drugs for the first time. It is exhilarating, filling you with adrenaline and seemingly endless amounts of power, because you are in control and feeling great. Every one is seeking a rush when looking for love online, but in most cases, the crash is impending. The reason behind this truth is because there are so many people out there to interact with, and dropping someone completely out of your interactive social life is easy, painless, and you think, no harm, no foul, right? On to the next one as they say, but did you give the person a real chance or did you stop talking to them with no explanation in order to seek that initial high again?
For every successful relationship formed online, there are thousands of unsuccessful attempts. What this does is make people more cautious, less open for real love, and not willing to put in the effort that it takes to create a lasting relationship. We become desensitized to the feelings of others. Usually, these online romances end with no explanation, leaving the person on the losing side of the interaction to feel the only thing worse than hearing that it isn't working out: silence. Being ignored is one of the worst feelings a human can experience since it can lead to self-doubt, rumination, a diminishment of confidence, and often times anger. Part of that vicious cycle is that the one that gets burned can turn into the person doing the burning. In general, we are an impatient society, and that lack of patience can cause volatile and even inhumane actions.
We are judging people so quickly that we are really glancing at a cover without reading what's written on the pages under the cover. Would you act like this in person? If the answer is yes, then there are more underlying issues besides technology. Decent human beings value the feelings of others. If your response is that talking online is not the same as in person, then ask the couples who are happily married from meeting online for some clarity. Our addiction to technology cannot be contradicted by the way we treat others while using it to meet people. Every one who uses technology to interact with other people and form relationships has an obligation to regard these relationships in the same light as if they started face to face. We cannot have it both ways because if technology is important to us, then tainting it by losing grip of what makes humans so beautiful is takes away all of the good that technology brings us.
As adults who are out of college and moved away from the place they called home, it is sometimes a struggle to meet new people so we resort to using what is at our fingertips in order to interact and connect with others. The more we mistreat people online, the more disconnected we become with our fellow humans. We often times use technology as crutch to mask our own insecurities, but by playing into that idea, we create even more insecurities for others. The act of meeting someone has never been more easier yet challenging all at once. Stopping the cycle, and using technology to develop meaningful relationships, is imperative in the world we live in today.