Dating. Today, it’s something that we plan to do. And it involves a process of selecting someone from a list of candidates, and then finally going out on a test-date. The date happens after the initial selection process.
If that first date goes well, the dates continue until either a relationship forms, or one or both of the people find more value investing their personal time in other people or things.
Of course, ‘dating’ has only been around for a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. But the previous non-internet versions had one thing in common with our animal ancestors. Back then, everything was happening in the present moment, and it was a direct, analogue up-close personal experience, not a solitary, distant, digital one.
For people in the digital world, they go through a culling process, and then a thinning process and then they interview the long-list to develop their short-list, with the aim to winnow down to a couple in a relationship.
In the analogue world, the closest thing to going to meet a theoretical partner would be a blind date. But almost all of the dating was spontaneous. People knew they were single and open to meeting someone, but they didn’t treat parties like roll call. They were ‘open’ more than ‘searching.’
In general, before the internet people didn’t expect to meet people to date, the hoped to meet them. Before the internet, people functioned in a state of anticipation, not one of expectation. A person would anticipate meeting the person of their dreams, but there was no way to search for them as some kind of future-seeking probe. The closest thing to that was going to a drive-in diner or movie.
Today, people can just ‘swipe-right’ at the modern virtual version of the ‘drive-in’ (dating apps). And the ease of that, and the way the process itself leads to a sense of detachment, all combines to prevent us from really feeling the things we need to feel in order to figure out which live person might suit us and our lifetime.
People can definitely find lasting happiness through dating apps. But even if we use them, it should be done so with an awareness of how the process itself alters what it is that we think we’re doing. After that, it’s up to us to figure out for ourselves if we think those influences affect our conclusions, and if so, if those affects are positive or negative.
Just as with anything else in life, people can find happiness or tragedy, no matter what method they use to find a romantic partner. But no matter which method we use, we should remain aware of how the method itself, will change our perspective on the person we’re meeting.
Being open and available and ‘letting something happen’ is a much different experience than culling, winnowing and selecting. In one case the choosing is done subconsciously, based on natural human instincts. Online, that process is made artificial, and it is based on an agenda, rather than openness.
The question for each person reading this is, how do these differences impact how you see the people you meet? And could they hide or reveal someone if we used the wrong method on the right person?
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.