The rising popularity of online communication changes the way people socialize. Friends and relatives can stay in touch and feel as though they are close to each other, even if they are at opposite corners of the world. Moreover, now people can find friendship and love online. The increasing interest in online dating also raises the question of whether this particular phenomenon is helping or damaging the current quality of relationships in society.
Many scholars attempt to answer this question by exploring different aspects of online dating. Many of these research articles come to a similar conclusion – online dating has a number of issues that stem from human nature as well as some technological factors. The central problems highlighted in the works of these scholars deal with individuals’ expectations and hopes. While dating online has benefits for finding people with similar interests, it also distances people and makes them suspicious of each other’s true identity.
Human relationships, romantic or otherwise, may be hard to establish and maintain for many reasons. The creation of online dating sites and applications was most likely intended to eliminate these issues and make the process of finding new partners easy and stress-free. Nevertheless, people encounter many problems as they create profiles, search for other individuals, and engage in a conversation. The following arguments show that online dating can complicate an already intricate process of finding affection.
It has been shown that people’s choice to date each other is strongly connected to the aspect of trust. According to McGloin and Denes (2016), attractiveness plays a significant role in both men’s and women’s desire to continue their relations. However, their reactions to this factor are somewhat opposite. Men, as the study finds, are more likely to trust female profiles with less attractive photos. These pictures are usually untouched or not enhanced with professional lighting and photo editing. Men consider images, which appear to be of much higher quality or have various visual effects as suspicious and fictitious. On the other hand, women find retouched photos more attractive and more trustworthy at the same time.
These findings show that online dating makes both men and women perceive their potential partners through a lens of distrust. Constant uncertainty of whether they are talking to the person they see on the screen may disrupt the usual process of bonding, which is typical for real-life meetings. People who cannot trust each other because of their visual appearance may start doubting different sides of their relationship. Interestingly, men, while being more suspicious of an attractive profile picture, are still more interested in dating women with edited photos (McGloin & Denes, 2016). This way of thinking can lead to such issues as the creation of unrealistic expectations and false ideals.
The problem of manufacturing an unrealistic image also results in many negative experiences for older individuals. While younger generations are used to the technological world and usually have a better understanding of the online culture, adults and the elderly encounter many difficulties trying to make themselves more attractive. An article by McWilliams and Barrett (2014) states that older adults feel pressured to appear more youthful online than they are in reality because of the competition from younger individuals. Women suffer from the concepts of beauty being centered on youthfulness and physical attraction and rivalry from younger women, while men have a limited social network.
Therefore, many older individuals try to become someone who they are not. This manipulation of pictures, descriptions, and even behavior leads to the creation of a false identity, which adults often try to retain while interacting with others online. For example, men focus on their abilities, often exaggerating their achievements and assets (McWilliams & Barrett, 2014). Women, as a contrast, try to appear more youthful physically and by editing their pictures to adhere to the current standards of beauty. These characteristics are the primary interests of these two groups because men are more concerned about their partner’s attractiveness, while women look for someone engaging and financially stable.