herald

Friday 25 July 2014

Forget online dates, I'm logging on to real life

THE problem with online dating is that everyone's too busy to meet up. Or maybe they're just too busy where you're concerned. But not too busy if they reckon a better offer is imminent. Now, there's a thought. I joined a dating site two months ago. I thought it might be fun. Now I am getting ready to log off for good.

You see there's something so cold and clinical about 'dating' a photograph. And that is basically what you are doing, because until you meet somebody in the flesh you don't know what they are truly like. You can't have chemistry with a photograph. You don't even know if the person you are talking to is real. Maybe they're using a photo that is 15 years old and looks nothing like themselves, or maybe they're using a friend's photo.

Vanish

Perhaps they even robbed it from a modelling website. You just cannot know unless you meet somebody. And that is the big problem. Some people, quite a lot of people, simply do not want to meet the person they are chatting to online and will happily waste somebody's time for weeks, months and even years.

If you suggest actually meeting up, they vanish faster than a magician's rabbit.

It makes you wonder whether they are married, in a relationship already or that they're basically living an online lie and never had any intention of meeting somebody in the first place.

When in America recently I was struck by the number of people sitting alone in cafes with their laptops. The silence in these coffee houses was deafening. People were concentrating on the screens in front of them, typing furiously, barely noticing their coffee getting cold. Who were they emailing? Other people in other coffee houses? Does nobody meet for a chat any more? Why invest emotionally in somebody online?

There is nothing warm or exciting about loving a virtual man or woman who cannot be reached. What is the point of having a thousand Facebook friends when, in reality, if you were stuck for a shoulder to cry on you felt you couldn't phone a single one of them?

Online you do not have to work too hard to meet people. If you're out and about, it takes confidence to approach a stranger and chat to them.

It can't be done by never leaving your seat and simply clicking a mouse.

Guessing

Before the internet, and texting, you had to make a phone call. It was nerve-wracking, yes, especially when somebody else, like a parent or sibling, could potentially answer the phone. But at least back then men were men. If they didn't call there would be no date. Simple as.

The problem with online dating is that there's so much choice. There are thousands of pictures from which to choose. But it's a guessing game trying to decide who is real and who is living in online fantasy land. You may have 500 messages in your inbox yet spend Saturday night alone twiddling your thumbs because everyone's too busy to meet up.

Yes, they are busy on Twitter and Facebook, and trawling through photos on dating sites. We're all too busy now. Some of us are even too busy for real life.

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