By Salome Fornier-Hanlon
In the technological world that we live in today, the relationships we share have taken on a more artificial nature. Instead of the normal, physical interaction that once took place amongst individuals to form some type of bond, today’s society is relying more and more on the technological devices that are available to them to replace the initial moments of contact with another. The biggest issue regarding this techno-contact is cyberspace, and more specifically cyber-dating. Following the presentation made by Jacqueline Schoemaker-Holmes on remediated dating, my current position on the threat that the internet’s affect on the social world imposes has only strengthened. Though many aspects that Jacqueline mentioned, such as increasing the amount of people you can meet, and infiltrating yourself in multiple pools of different people, are positive enough, the results in her study on cyber-dating in relation to how the participants pick and choose, as well as the common resurfacing of “fat-phobia” among the users is disconcerting.
The problem with cyber-dating is this: initial personality attraction with a normal person does not exist anymore. Anyone can easily select the type of person they meet, as if it were some mail-order bride service. Rather than determining the attractiveness of an individual based on their personality, cyber daters rely on information and photos on a profile to make their selection. The use of online dating has made interaction with others a shallow, insubstantial connection; a connection via cyber wires rather than eye contact.
Further supporting the cosmetic importance in the internet dating world would be Jacqueline’s result in her study regarding the men. Two males that she had more closely monitored showed a blatant aversion to “fat people”. By looking for dates online, these men are expecting the way a woman looks is how she is explained, and they make their decision on the initial physical portrayal of the woman in question. One example would be forty-something Tom. He had met a woman online, and after chatting with her some, he had agreed to let her stay at his place for a night while she was in town. Upon meeting her however, all initial liking he had disappeared because she was “fatter” than he had expected. If in the real world, the attraction would be made purely on the personality and its combination with the physical of a person. The appearance of a person is generally enhanced with the attraction to their personality, and so the “fat” stigma is not as important as it is when meeting people in an artificial setting.
Though Jacqueline Schoemaker-Holmes’ study may have enlightened me on the positive aspects of cyber-dating in terms of the accessibility that is created to meet new people, her findings regarding the cursory nature adopted in the finding of a mate via the internet has only intensified my prior skepticism. Through profiles, personality is abandoned, and physical attractiveness has taken over in determining the adequacy of the individuals. With such priority being held to the outside, how is one to find true love, love that spurts from a beauty within?