By Paula Conhain
That was what a friend said to me when I explained my stance on online dating.
It wasn’t the first time I had said it, but apparently this time I had pushed a button. My friend was a staunch supporter and longtime user of Match.com. She wants to get married, have a family, and move to the burbs. I say that without criticism, but instead to point out our differences: I have no interest in children, am a city-dweller for life, and while I hope to one day find that special someone, I don’t feel the pressure to get hitched.
I continued to explain my position, which can be summed up as this: online dating is just another terrible thing for our social skills. We email our coworkers instead of getting up to talk. We text instead of calling. We get satisfaction from the number of “friends” who wish us a happy birthday on our Facebook walls, practically putting the USPS out of business. Now, we can sit at home in our pajamas, no makeup on, watching reality TV and trolling some website for a love connection? No thank you.
Living in San Francisco, a city famously connected to technology, I see every day how we cut ourselves off from human contact. We stick our headphones in while riding the bus to work. We Instagram photos of our food when we could be talking with our dining companions. We text while waiting at the bar for a drink instead of looking up, smiling at the guy next to you, and striking up a conversation.
All of this said, I was excited for my friend when she’d meet a new prospect on Match and get a second date. Yet the thought of doing this myself was against everything I believed in. She repeatedly told me that she believed online dating was a complementary tool to meeting people in real life. I just didn’t see it.
One day, while on vacation, lying by a pool at a Tuscan winery that played classical music in the vineyard – the perfect venue to think deep thoughts – I was chatting with my friend about his dating adventures in New York. Both of us were new-ish in our respective cities. He, however, moves every few years and I have always respected how he takes charge to meet new people and create that feeling of being settled in a new place. I started to wonder if whether or not I was doing everything I could do to meet new people (ahem – men-type people) myself.
A week later, I was home, in my pajamas, watching reality TV, and I suddenly did what I never thought I would do: I grabbed my laptop, found photos of me on my best good hair days, and after a quick mental analysis of what would be right for me (Match = looking for love, Tinder = looking for sex, OK Cupid = somewhere in the middle) created a profile on OK Cupid.
Maybe I did it to prove I was right. Maybe I did it because, deep down, I thought I was missing out. One thing is for sure: by what happened over the course of the next several weeks, I think I proved that I am not judgmental.