There is a lot of talk about dating online. There is a lot of talk about how relationships will work in the digital space. Here’s the news flash… it will work. Not necessarily in the current form we know it, but digital is here to stay and dating will happen just fine.
Well, not exactly. There will be a lot of adjustments that need to take place.
So, for the sake of simplicity, let’s just touch a few of the issues that comes with digital dating.
Digital Dating 101
First things first, there is no one size fits all approach to dating online. It varies by platforms, it varies by who uses the platform, and no matter how amazing things are online, at some point, things have to go offline to have a chance of lasting success.
This does not mean that in the future things can’t go from start to finish entirely in the digital space. Currently, some folks have had a great deal of success with entirely digital relationships from start to finish.
Second thing, not matter how eloquently you write, somethings aren’t able to be transmitted perfectly in the digital space. Especially if limited to just text messages. There is something human about seeing how another human communicate that has not yet evolved to keep up with cyberspace.
Third, no matter how many emojis one uses, something is bound to get lost in translation. Images only convey what is understood by both parties to be the intended meaning being conveyed.
What does this mean?
In principle, there are no shortcuts to building relationships. The work still has to be done. Questions still have to be asked, and concepts made clear. At some point, you’re going to have to test the assumptions and do something to build up the connection better.
In some instances, one has to eventually meet the person of interest to solidify the understandings of the relationship. Other times, the digital space is the only thing that will allow a relationship to continue to live until such a time as being reunited.
Most times, when speaking about online dating, people conclude (some of us anyway) the communication is text based. This ranges from cell phone text messages to emails and blog posts. Thankfully, digital is not limited to just written formats. There is voice and video options now that adds great coloring to the nature of communication with the person one is dating.
Even more advance
As the technology gets better, it will soon be possible to use virtual reality augmentations to do things together while being physically in different locations.
One can imagine going on a hike in Australia, but one’s date is out in England. Thanks to coming improvements in tech, both can experience the hike in real time. Granted, the person in England will be experiencing a digital version of this through their eyes mostly, but who knows if they will one day be able to walk the hike on a special digital platform simulator.
What all these advances are trying to do is bring experiences closer to people without being limited by proximity.
Can’t beat closeness
No matter how much tech changes, humans in their current form still want to have experiences with the people they care about. Which brings a point that bothers a lot of non-tech-immersed people.
Whenever there is a chance to actually talk with someone face to face, don’t pass it up. There are many who will talk to their date via SMS text messages while sitting across from each other at a table on a date.
Please. Until we sort out all the technological advances, don’t short change yourself by using a tech interface as a substitute for real time face to face connection.
The brain doesn’t like keeping around unused cells. It prunes them out pretty quickly. If you only connect with people through a screen, your brain will assume that is normal and will stop keeping up with those cells required for face to face interaction. This is why some feel certain generations are lacking in social skills. (it’s not really just a generation issue. It’s a practical issue. All people who give up the skill of face to face interactions at any age get worse with it over time)
Until the entire population of the planet has moved over to full digital interfaces only and the human genome has adapted to it entirely, in this current life time, it’s best to keep up with understanding how to communicate with people face to face. (live video, one day will be the major form of digital communication… and the face to face skills will be of utmost value then… another reason to keep having face to face interactions until the video screen takes over)
Digital Dating 102
Never has there been a higher premium on civility like there is now. Just look at the venerable flame wars of the internet. People have to have greater and greater allowances for errors in communication online than ever before. It’s not going to be any easier reading between the lines when all the communication is digital.
One has to be extra careful to understand what is being said. One has to be willing to verify information through various digital channels to be sure they understand the other person.
There was one gentleman who said he had to follow his love interest on all their social platforms, blogs, vlogs, and text messages to get the full picture of who they were, as they only showed specific sides of themselves on specific platforms. With a more complete perspective, he was able to feel comfortable moving their digital relationship offline into a happier state of being.
Back in this blogger’s younger days, people didn’t need all that work. You just had to get the courage to ask a lady out on a date and keep her interested. Well, the work is different now. It starts out digital and eventually will go offline. We’re not yet in the days when you can have an entire love life form and prosper for decades strictly in the digital space (not talking about SIMS either)
While there is a whole lot more to be said, that will be for Digital Dating 103 and eventually 201 and higher. For those missing the numeral references, it’s a nod to the good old college days and how classes were numbered.
Human dynamics have not changed nearly as much as we think they have. People still need to communicate. People continue to connect to others. People still need to feel validated, heard, understood, and respected… just to name a few. Digital only creates more opportunities to do this with people you’d otherwise have no proximal opportunity to connect with.
This means that relationships of all kinds can form and the risk for miscommunication is higher than it’s ever been. Same with social isolation. We’re more digitally connected yet more isolated than ever. Those who adapt well, thrive. Those who don’t, get left that much further behind.
The same skills that has allowed humans to get along and build massive civilizations will apply in the digital space. Skills like politeness, honor, respect, attentiveness, patiences, listening to understand instead of listening to reply, etc. The digital space only makes interactions quicker. The one who knows how to adjust pace and is wise enough to know when to slow down and when to go offline line will be in better standing than those who can’t.
Digital is a tool. Not the solution. It facilitates. It augments. And it also divides. Use care and smarts when dating online. Use digital dating more like the introduction course that sets up for the first official course. Save all the feelings for when things are better structured and set offline. Then, the benefits of digital really shines.
Until next time, happy digital romance!