Thursday, 20 December 2007

Little Black Books

According to the Telegraph, and facebook are to unite in creating a 'Little Black Book' application, whereby users of the madly popular social networking site can search for dates. (I always suspected that the main motivation behind the social networking phenomenon is sex, and I feel that this confims my suspicions.) Apparently internet dating websites are terrified by facebook, because it threatens to be able to do what they do, better, and for free; this is their first move to fight back.

I'm in two minds about internet dating. My initial reaction is always to think, "Get a life." People managed perfectly well to get dates before the internet came along, and at least part of me sees the whole thing as yet another means by which we are coming to rely on technology far too much. I also worry that the whole thing is so deeply alienating and childish: I don't like the idea of being able to refine parameters and perform advanced searches for an 'ideal' partner - for me the whole point of dating is the element of surprise and adventure, and it kind of spoils things to be able to know all about a prospective partner from the get go (and even to be able to dismiss potential dates on the basis of their not meeting some pre-defined conditions when they might in fact be perfect for you). I suppose I see it as yet another example of how 'convenience' and technology just take so much of the fun and magic out of life. I also know that I would never have ended up engaged to Mamiko if I'd left it to internet dating. She's hardly the 'type' of woman I'd search for actively - our interests are completely different, she's four years older than me, and she's a total sadist. (Then again all women are, I suppose.) But we just happened to meet by chance and, hey presto, for some reason we're perfect for each other. By resorting to the internet, aren't people ruining their chances of that sort of meeting?

However, there is something churlish about criticising something that does apparently work for some people. Obviously internet dating has made some men and women really happy, so I shouldn't have such uncharitable thoughts. And I'm lucky enough never to have really been in a position where I've been desparate for a relationship but unable for whatever reason to get one - so who am I to judge?


Bilbo said...

I never understood the Internet dating thing, myself. I'm like you - I don't think any dating website would ever have matched up Agnes and I, although by meeting live as we did, we were able to do the exploring that led us to discover that we actually made a good couple. You're also right in noting that it may well work for some people, so I guess we'll just have to see how things develop.

Amanda said...

I've always thought that it would be silly to look for a date on the internet, using those refined parameters. Anybody can create a persona online! If there is no face to face first contact, then you're not able to have that instinctive feel for a person. Reading about them beforehand will definitely put a bias on the first impression.

But, like you say, its worked for some.

Andrew Fry said...

To me, dating sites are just another example of how the web creates opportunities for dis-intermediation of third party services. Travel agents, banks, stock traders and many other professions have seen the effect. If you are searching, I think it is an interesting twist. Though Fiddler on the Roof would never benefit from the change.

Internet, Internet
make me a match,
Find me a Find,
iCatch me an iCatch.

John said...

I think that many people today are too busy to find themselves in venues that they would meet a potential partner or perhaps are tired of playing the game.

While the internet and dating services seem like a strange way to seek a partner, it has worked well for two of my siblings.

It is unlikely that a computer would have paired my wife with me. Too many differences...and yet we're on year 27.

mattiecore said...

Ugh. And eventually match/Facebook will merge with Google, Amazon, myspace and take over the world. The surviving porn websites will unite into an equally horrifying monster and do epic battle with Facematchooglezonspace.

zero_zero_one said...

Have you seen some of the "dating" websites that already advertise on Facebook though? Links I've seen in the sidebars when I've been using it have included "" and ""...

Internet dating does work for some people, in the same way as classified ads worked for some people years before the internet came along - I don't think that there is anything inherently "wrong" with the internet as a medium/facilitator for dating.

Amanda mentioned that anyone can create a persona online, but anyone can create a persona offline as well; I concede that reading about someone could bias your expectations (one way or the other) but is this any different than a friend saying, "I know someone who you'll like," and then proceeding to tell you about them?

At the end of the day, if you are shy, or socially awkward, or whatever, why shouldn't you try to use the internet or a dating service to meet someone?

(that said, why should the dating service help, because at the end of the day you will have to meet your date, and that shyness/awkwardness will still be there in some form...)

Long comment!