By Marie Frankson
I have been in a relationship with the same man for five years, and four of those years have been as a long-distance relationship. How have we been able to stay together for so long? Love, trust, willingness to make it work, and communication. Throughout our relationship, I have heard from countless people that technology and social networking would ruin our relationship, as well as countless horror stories about how relationships and dating have been ruined by social networking and dating, and that social networking has made the act of dating moot. For my relationship, social networking and technology have been helpful; when we have news to share or are planning on getting together and it’s an inappropriate time to call, we can text or instant message on Facebook. However, everything has pros and cons. So, has technology and social networking ruined dating?
One way that people believe that technology has ruined dating is the “fact” that dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages as opposed to one person asking the other out on a date, going on said date if the askee said yes, seeing if the two would want to go out on a second, third, or fourth, etc., date, and eventually becoming a couple and entering into a serious relationship.
A second way that people believe technology has ruined dating is by creating lower barriers for entry. Traditional courtship, the kind our grandparents tell us about where you have to actually pick up a phone and ask someone on a date, required courage and for the asker to choose the right words. Over the phone, or in person, being rejected is like taking a bullet to the ego. However, through a text message or a Facebook message, rejection doesn’t hurt as much.
A third way that people believe technology is ruining dating is that people no longer have to put effort into composing a message to ask someone out. To ask someone out nowadays, all someone has to do is send a text message asking, “Is anything fun going on tonight?” with a winking emoticon at the end. There’s no effort anymore. Sometimes it seems as though the advent of new technology and social networking sites have made people lazier when it comes to romance, which makes it seem like romance is dying because of this digital age.
A fourth way that people believe technology is ruining dating is because sites like Facebook and MySpace have ruined the need for the first date. The point of the first date is to talk and get to know each other, but with social networking sites all one has to do is type in their date’s name and they can find out everything about them, so when the first date actually happens, that stimulating conversation people hope to have is non-existent. Online research of a date has created a false sense of intimacy — with all of their interests only a few mouse clicks away, it’s easy to discover what you have in common and what you don’t, instead of happily getting caught off-guard by finding out you and your date both love classic black-and-white movies over appetizers at that new bistro around the corner.
Despite constantly hearing about how technology and social networking sites have ruined dating, there are some benefits as well. One major benefit is that technology and social networking can keep the spark alive — William, a 19-year-old from New York, has only recently become involved with a girl, and he says that technology is helpful in his relationship. “I can see a ton of benefits to technology use in a relationship. For one, it’s nice to go on Facebook and be like, “Hey, this girl right here, she’s taken by me and it’s Facebook official.” Also, if you’re on a bad date and you’ve got friends in the area, you can text them to crash the date and make it a hang out. One other thing, I’m joining the army and because of technology I don’t have to lose communication when I leave. I’ll have Skype and Facebook and a phone to my benefit to keep in touch. It’s more efficient than snail mail, and Skype lets me actually see someone. Sure, there are plenty of cons to technology and dating, but if used right it can enhance the relationship. Just don’t let social networking rule over your relationship.”
One last benefit of technology and social networking when it comes to dating is how online dating sites are helping people find potential significant others, and significant others, and have been doing so for some time now. For example, my father and step-mother met online, as did my fiance’s father and step-mother, and both couples have been together for more than ten years.
Technology certainly has changed the way we communicate, whether that communication is between platonic friends, colleagues, potential significant others, and significant others. Technology has even added new complications to dating, such as having to think about whether to untag yourself from a photo with an ex, or worrying about if it’s too soon to send a friend request to a romantic interest. However, saying that technology and social networking sites have brought, or will be bringing, an end to dating and courtship is a bit premature, especially considering people still meet and date and even get married in the real world despite how heavily invested everyone is in technology. So, no, technology and social networking have not ruined dating.