Is online dating destroying love? February 7, 2012 5:59 AMSubscribe
Is online dating destroying love?We are doomed, perhaps, to be unsatisfied creatures, whose desires are fulfilled only momentarily before we go on the hunt for new objects to scratch new itches. Which suggests that online dating sites will be filling us with hopes – and disappointments – for a good while yet. Last millennium 72% of us met our partners at school or university, at work or in networks of family or friends. The other 28%, presumably, met the loves of their lives by tripping over them as they lay in their own filth outside a Black Country pub. Or such were mating rites in my day. The internet is revolutionary because it renders it easy for us to make contact with people we don't know and, better yet, those who don't necessarily live within the Dudley travel-to-work area/look like trolls/cite assembling Airfix models as their favourite hobby even though they're 43, etc.
Online dating is, Ariely argues, unremittingly miserable. The main problem, he suggests, is that online dating sites assume that if you've seen a photo, got a guy's inside-leg measurement and star sign, BMI index and electoral preferences, you're all set to get it on à la Marvin Gaye, right? Wrong. "They think that we're like digital cameras, that you can describe somebody by their height and weight and political affiliation and so on. But it turns out people are much more like wine. When you taste the wine, you could describe it, but it's not a very useful description. But you know if you like it or don't. And it's the complexity and the completeness of the experience that tells you if you like a person or not. And this breaking into attributes turns out not to be very informative."