Personally I have never been computer-oriented. Yes, I use computers for work, either with Microsoft Office or various engineering software. But most computer programming tasks I delegate to others. So I never developed an affinity for the sort of tinkering with computers that leads some people down the path of video games. My games of choice are chess, bridge and Sudoku, all of which are successfully automated on the computer, but which are really just board-games gone digital.
You're right about a certain class of young man who is awkward and athletically limited in "real life", but aggrandizes an alter-ego in the virtual world. This is fine as an occasional method of escape, but becomes problematic when the relative importance of the two realities reverses. Note the analogy between fantasy video-games and religion... a means of escaping the travails of a cruel and unjust world, by creating a myth where wrongs are righted and the weak can feel powerful. Computers are just tools to perform a certain job. When the tool becomes more important than the job, the result is a sort of obsession.
What does unfortunately happen in our "family oriented" culture is that men who by nature or by circumstance don't become "family men", end up as outcasts and recluses in one form or another. Given the prevalence of computer technology and the relative dearth of mechanical arts (how many men take pride in working on cars these days???), the natural outlet for the recluse becomes the digital world. And that is unfortunate, for both men and women.
Your writing rocks! You really should consider writing a book!
I completely agree that technology has had a double edged sword. It is a great medium to connect or keep people connected. The dark side is that some people who are in the virtual world lose their original identity.
What I've experienced with online dating is unrealistic expectations and oversexed idealized casual sexual encounters. I've seen a resurgence of casual sex especially among young to middle aged men. I don't see anything wrong with this however how are you to truly know are person? This question can lead down a dangerous road. I agree with you about the other end of the spectrum which is men and women searching for the perfect spouse. One thing I don't understand is how is the potential spouse supposed to reveal themselves if they know that this person ALREADY has marriage in mind and is rating them.
I haven't found a happy medium between the two spectrum yet. Do you think there is one? Are we headed for a future of casual sex? Is it possible to find someone in a sea of muck?
My view is that internet dating is neither more nor less risky than walking up to a stranger in a bar. Is it any worse to finally meet in a bar the man with whom you have been corresponding for a month, than to be accosted by a complete stranger in the same bar? The best form of introduction is through mutual friends. Everything else is fraught with uncertainty and the potential for great frustration. Women are more skeptical of internet dating, whereas otherwise timid men become emboldened by the anonymity and therefore become more aggressive online than they would in a bar. This may also explain why the online male/female ratio is so skewed. I do not however believe that internet dating is making a significant impact on Americans' sexual habits, as it is unlikely that many online sexual overtures enjoy a consummation in real life.
To truly know a person is essentially impossible. I thought that I knew my former wife (9 years married together) quite well, but I was utterly mistaken. All that I genuinely knew was a projection of my personal preferences and attitudes onto her person, while she remained reticent and grudgingly accommodating. Her real personality was inchoate and withdrawn, communicated to me in haphazard and quizzical fashion, such that I was unable to comprehend. It’s useless to argue whether her guardedness or my obtuseness was at fault. The point is that genuine knowledge of another person, even an intimate partner of many years' duration, is impossible and should not even be sought as a goal. Instead, I propose a sort of cost-benefit calculation: is intimacy with the person in question a sufficiently keen pleasure that partaking of it overrides the risk of some noxious or unseemly development? Of course, some knowledge of the person is essential. But it will necessarily be fragmented, shoddy and uncertain. We must be bold enough to tolerate this uncertainty!
But why be so concerned over finding a jewel or ideal soulmate? Breeders must worry about optimizing their potential mates’ genes, and religionists worry about making sure that their intended is “the one” explicitly chosen for them by god. For non-breeding atheists, both considerations are moot. Be your own jewel; just focus on finding some one who is merely good enough. The future mother may not afford to “settle”, but a woman who is energized by her career, her avocations and so forth, has no need of that magical male deliverance to “complete her”.
In sum, I can not blame women for their skepticism over online dating, but I enjoin them to make less distinction between this form of dating and "real life" analogues. Cads and rogues abound in any venue, and good judgment is always difficult. Just as we should avoid foolish risks, let us not shortchange ourselves from too critical an eye.
"All that I genuinely knew was a projection of my personal preferences and attitudes onto her person, while she [he] remained reticent and grudgingly accommodating."
This is the truest, most universal (with my added ) assessment of relationships I have ever read. I see this unfold daily in the world, among friends and acquaintances, across borders and oceans.
You put it succinctly! These conditions make dating and finding a match for where you are in your life nearly impossible.
I so totally agree with you. There seems to be a large number of this sort in atheist groups :(
Simple twist of fate... And, a hell of a lot of bad decisions!
I'm single because:
1. Perhaps I'm too picky. I want an honest intelligent atheist that can forgive common minor human faults. I've never met a girl like that. My ex-wife was intelligent except she was extremely religious, a lying con-artist, and could not forgive minor faults.
2. Perhaps I'm a coward. I don't ever again want to experience the sadness and pain I went through in that marriage and divorce.
3. I'm not good socially. I get embarrased too easily with my poor dancing abilities and other things connected with being social. I also get disgusted listening to the religious (and other) BS that emanate from most people.
Here is another question about dating in general, do you suppose Hollywood chick flick movies have muddled some women's brains? I believe the "knight in shining armor" is a load of crap. I don't there is ANYTHING wrong with seeking the support or love of another nonetheless those with that mindset are disenchanted by reality.
One more question, the male sex is guilty of separating the "ideal" woman they find attractive in movies and magazines vs. women of reality who have flaws. Do think the media has a part in this male mindset?
The media-inspired muddling of brains (female and male) on dating-angst has been going on since Daphnis and Chloe (http://www.amazon.com/Daphnis-Chloe-Penguin-Classics-Longus/dp/0140...), some 2200 years ago. All that's changed is the medium. Today we read fewer books and watch more movies, and the pace of communication is more intense. We have more leisure time and more opportunity to consume information. But the message and the befuddlement that it engenders remains invariant.
Idealization of the opposite sex, and dejection upon reality failing to comport with the ideal, goes both ways. Men are no more guilty than women. Both objectify the other, and then become resentful that they’re misunderstood by the opposite sex.
But the problem of misplaced physical attraction is not of reality vs. media-idealization; it’s a problem of accessibility. It's summer now, even in the Midwest. Young women are dressing, ahem, appropriately for the season. They go about their business, and we men do not keep our eyes pointed to the ground with sullen humility. What we see amongst "regular" women really is not inferior to what's in movies and magazines. This is even true in my town, which is small and comparatively poor, where there isn’t much of a fashionable high-society. People's appearance varies widely, but I assure you that there is no dearth of examples in regular life that titillate the eye no less than what's on magazine covers. The problem isn't that real women are homely while airbrushed magazine women are beautiful! I don’t think that the media creates unrealistic physical expectations. What it does create is unrealistic expectations about accessibility – that people can just “click” and find their perfect soulmates with comparatively minimal effort, and that there’s some one out there for everyone. Maybe there is not. Maybe there is no ideal mate, and even if one exists, finding him/her is impossible.
I must disagree slightly with your observations, I do think both sides are guilty of idealization of the opposite sex. However, women take the greater constructive criticism a little more. For instance, we have shows that allow you to have your dream wedding and plastic surgery or a show like the "Bachelor" that shows one guy opting for an array of lovely women. I think magazines are finally taking responsibility for their part however it doesn't stop men seeking out pictures on the internet.
Women have come to a crossroads between marriage and being single, children or no children, and independence vs dependence. Women are still trying to have it all yet they are failing miserable.
The message that is pounding in women's head frequently "you can't be happy without the perfect man", "your image is more important than your inside, and "Women need to have a fairytale wedding to be recognized as "fitting in" with society.
I do agree with you on accessibility to a point but I diverge from your path when you say regular women are inaccessible. I think single women today are choosing to stay single than deal with someone who doesn't meet their criteria. Criteria means basic information and personality.
I would say that here it's a more urban setting. The street call out hasn't gone out of style. The men in my neighborhood are mostly married with children, Christian or Catholic, and have settled into a constant rhythm. I'm not saying it's like that EVERYWHERE but I wanted to give you an example of one of the demographics we have here.
Appearance seems to matter more and more on both sides. I read a profile header that stated "Kids? Overweight? Disqualified."
I agree with you about the ideal or perfect mate. I think that's where we set ourselves up for failure when listen to friends and family saying "The perfect guy or girl is out there".