Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Rise of "Met Online"

Data from here on how heterosexual couples met. As Tyler Cowen notes, this helps to explain the rise of loneliness, since we are meeting fewer people in any other way than online dating.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

this helps to explain the rise of loneliness, since we are meeting fewer people in any other way than online dating

Oh, rubbish! You might as well say that the personals section of newspapers used to "explain the rise of loneliness"!

More people are meeting online because more people are online, and you can meet a broader swathe of people from a broader span of geographical locations.

There are only so many people you can possibly meet at your local school, church, bar, workplace, neighborhood, or circle of friends and family.

The internet simply allows two people without pre-existing mutual connections to meet when they'd otherwise have astonishingly low odds of ever crossing paths.

You don't have to live very far away from someone to never run into them. Two people in neighboring towns or cities - or even just different parts of the same town or city - might never cross paths or interact in any meaningful way. But the internet allows people greater freedom to overcome that factor - it largely nullifies geographical distance, and it makes it easier to "go further afield" and interact with whole circles of people you'd never even know exist.

Every new social or technological medium for communication gets decried as being "impersonal" or otherwise harming human relationship and interaction. Anything that makes it easier to meet people outside the traditional pool of candidates inevitably gets criticized.

Mass interaction via cellphones used to be the big scare. Before that, teens hanging out at malls or sitting up into the night talking on the corded landline. Dance clubs, movie theatres, ice cream parlors - they all had their turn as the terrifying new fad that was driving people to "find love in all the wrong places". Why can't that daughter of ours stop messing around with those hooligans at the drive-in and just come to church so she can meet a nice, respectable young man with good morals?

The internet isn't driving people to interact less - if anything, it enables more interaction than was ever possible before. It's just driving people to interact differently, that's all. Do you honestly think people were somehow "less lonely" and having more and healthier relationships in the 1970s? Or in the 1950s? Or in the 1930s? Et cetera?

Consider how there are decades worth of classic rock songs about lonely kids in lonely small towns who have to struggle and scrape and risk everything to leave town and go literally anywhere else just for a chance at happiness and love...

...and yet somehow we think people in the modern day are the truly lonely ones, and the problem is our new global system of machines that let people meet and interact without having to scrounge up a one way ticket to a strange place they've never been and give up everything they know in the hopes of maybe meeting someone?

There's nothing wrong with meeting people online - it saves you a hell of a lot of money, time, grief, and effort for the same results as before.