Person or Profile, Finding Love in the Digital Age


Ah, dating. The cause of most every boy and girl’s hormonal stress. I think we all can agree that the “dating game” is as scary as it is fun. One’s personal confidence is tested when asking another on a date or accepting/declining one. Communication skills are also put to the test because on a date you have to actually talk to the other individual. Terrifying, right?

For some young adults, this is quite a challenge. Conversation topics, what to do when silence occurs over dinner and being told “no thank you” are frequent concerns.

However, these days, fewer individuals fear face-to-face rejection. Young adults now have their own personal wing-man to shield them from social interaction and rejection: their cell phone. Though smartphones seem helpful in the dating world, they actually do more damage than good.

When one gets a recommendation for a date or asks a new person out, the first thing they do is go to social media. One must know what their potential date looks like, what their major is, where they work, who they hang out with and so on. The problem with this pre-date stalking is that once the two get together in person on a date, they think they already know the basics of who the other individual is. Questions asked are no longer relevant, and the date becomes a review of what they already found out on their social profile.

The purpose of a date is to get to know the individual on a personal level. However, young adults have replaced personal information with profile information. Not everything that is posted online is an honest representation of that individual’s life. Referring to a dating study released by the Pew Research Center, Dr. Lee Keyes, executive director of the Counseling Center at the University of Alabama, said that “54 percent [of people] had interacted with someone who misrepresented themselves online.”

Let’s be frank, no one is exactly who their profiles say they are. Anyone can smile for a pretty picture or post a model shot on Instagram, but that is rarely the whole story. The truth is who they are in person. If we looked into someone’s eyes, instead of their messages, we would find a different person than who they portray online.

Privacy tends to be an issue in relationships as well. We’ve all heard the statement “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” However, with all the texting, tweets and Snapchat stories instantly available, distance in the relationship can be hard to achieve. Our phones are with us all the time and we carry them everywhere. Since our phones are at our fingertips, many believe that responding to messages should be instant. If the other individual doesn’t reply to a text right away, then they clearly don’t like you, right?

Wrong. Cell phones are there for our convenience, not the other individual’s. Constant communication has made it so young adults read into every text, tweet or Tinder message as if it is the most important message they will ever receive (or won’t receive, in some cases). Unintentionally, we forget that life goes on outside of our cell phones. Work, school, family and friends are part of our everyday lives and, more often than not, require us to put down the cell phone. If someone doesn’t reply instantly to a message, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are ignoring you. Each of us has a life outside of social media; we must be respectful of others’ time.

Communication skills — the art of actually talking face to face — are becoming lost due to the constant access and excess of technology. Individuals tend to have more confidence to say whatever they want online because no one is present in person to contradict them. Rejection is cushioned by the screen, so to speak. When it comes to saying what we mean in person, our words never seem to make it to our mouths.

There is power in hearing one’s voice. It suddenly makes the conversation real and personal. An article from The New York Times written by Alex Williams stated,“Traditional courtship – picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date – required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of asynchronous communication.”

Texting shows a lack of confidence in one’s self and a sense of apathy for the relationship. Messaging is neither personal nor mature. Picking up the phone and speaking in one’s own voice shows respect for the other individual as well as yourself. If ­­— heaven forbid — the other young adult declines the date, be proud that you had the courage to ask them in person. Remember that life goes on. There are many reasons for rejection; we cannot jump to conclusions when we do not know the whole story.

The dating life is stressful, occasionally embarrassing and a fun nervous thrill. Getting to know another individual on a personal level should be enjoyable and exciting. Though social media has its benefits, reading beyond the lines of every post and text is not an accurate account of who the individual is. Social media does not define an individual. Communication, respect for another’s time and boundaries and personal interaction are simple traits of a successful relationship.

Putting the phone away can be a massive benefit when it comes to dating. Fall in love with the person, not the profile picture.