We embrace any and all ways people manage to connect—that includes finding love online. Some might even argue it’s better than the “real” alternative.
Okay, please bear with me while I go off on a slight rant. It will be worth it. Do you see the judgment in the title? Hidden inside is the assumption that the online world somehow fake—after all, that’s the opposite of “real” isn’t it? I ask you, who gets to decide what is real and what isn’t? Is it somebody who looks at abstract art at the latest exhibition on a Tuesday evening while drinking too much of their free wine?
How, I ask you, is that more real than what we’ve got?
The title should really read ‘why finding love online is better than finding it AFK’ (Away From Keyboard). Now there is far less of a value judgement hidden in that statement, isn’t there? You’re either at your keyboard or you’re not.
What is more—and here is the point for this tangent—neither life nor love is any less real in either place. To think anything different is to sell one place or the other short.
So why is finding love online so amazing? Here are just a few reasons:
1. You can really talk to people.
Offline there are so many things you need to keep track of—your clothes, your body language, even how you smell. That’s a lot to consider. What’s more, sometimes your date shouts so loudly your actual words don’t manage to come over the top; in which case, what you’re trying to say gets lost in the maelstrom of ideas.
When communicating online, that’s much less of a problem; you can get to know somebody for what their beliefs, morals and ideas are, before you let all that other stuff weigh in. And that is far more the person than the unintentional signals they give off, isn’t it? It turns out that research backs this up, with people who meet online more likely to last than people that meet offline.
2. You both know what the other wants.
Not everything people put on profiles is entirely honest, but the big strokes are far more likely to be. That means you won’t end up investing several months of your life into somebody else’s life only to find out their ambitions are completely different from your own.
You want to settle down, build a career, and have children? Sorry, baby, all I want to do is ride my motorcycle down toward the tip of Argentina wearing as little clothing as possible.
Online, you would have discovered this is the case within the first minute of checking out their profile, concluding that, though they might look good with very little clothing on, your life-goals don’t really match up. And then you would have moved on. In real life, that could have cost you months of trying to change each other before realizing you’re not going to jump on the back of their bike.
3. You can specialize.
Away from the keyboard, the only way you know what kind of person you’re going to run into tonight is by selecting where you’re going to go. Are we going to a musical, a restaurant, or a single’s night in a bar? Now, the people there are going to have different tastes, sure, but there’s a decent chance you’ll find the one person who was there by accident and doesn’t share any of your tastes.
That’s a lot less likely to happen online, where you can select what kind of dating site you’re going to join. There are literally hundreds of sites (including the one you’re on), all dedicated to different interests, personality types and career paths. That means that you can pre-select the kind of people who you’re going to be chatting with.
And even if you still come across someone you don’t click with, you can always hide that member from your matches.
4. You can hone your messages and stay calm.
The spoken word is great. The only problem with it is you can’t spend too much time thinking about what you’re going to say—if you do, other people may think you’re slightly odd. That’s far easier online; which means, for those of us who are more thoughtful, introverted, or who like to think outside the box, this is a much more natural habitat.
What’s more, online, those of us who aren’t all that good at first time meetings can deal with our anxieties far more easily. You can combine the excitement of socializing with being in the comfort of your own home. And as we all know, when our nerves are soothed, we’re far more likely to say things the way we want to.
The Image Problem.
If you really think about it, the online world is great as it offers opportunities that, for many of us, wouldn’t be available away from our keyboards. The only thing is that it has an image problem. And the only reason that’s the case is we still allow those who live away from it to decide if it’s accepted or not. They do this by (for example) calling one world “real,” implying the another is fake—as well as somehow suggesting online dating is for people who can’t hack it in other types of dating.
For one thing, the online world is growing ever more important and in many fields has now eclipsed the world outside our doors. It is in no way “less.” For another, why should one group get to define another? Isn’t that the definition of discrimination?
So I say, throw off the shackles of AFK oppression! Don’t be ashamed of what you do, who you are and—most importantly—how you meet the person you share your life with. Embrace the tools available.