We Don’t Date For The Same Reasons We Can't Choose Something On Netflix
Thanks to the Internet, we have truly never been more connected than we are now.
This includes those who aren't regular Internet users, too, who may just use it for their jobs or to keep in touch with friends and family.
After all, you simply can't exist in the modern world without some kind of digital address at which people from your place of employment or personal life can reach you.
Now, there's virtually nobody in this vast web of interconnectivity we can't connect with.
And whenever someone new registers for a social media website, or sends a new email, or downloads a new dating app, or engages in a new conversation on a message board, the web only gets bigger.
In theory, all of this interconnectivity is wonderful -- especially when it comes to dating.
We can find people who are similar to us, whom we can see ourselves connecting with on deeper levels and bonding about the perspectives we both share.
Or we can find people who are different from us, who offer us completely unexpected qualities and from whom we can learn about foreign cultures and unfamiliar experiences.
However, like Barry Schwartz says in his famous 2005 book, “The Paradox Of Choice,” more might actually be less. And in the dating world, this is particularly problematic.
When we have too many choices, our anxiety increases and we're more prone to dissatisfaction.
When it comes to dating, we're always wondering if this specific choice, out of the thousands we have, was the right choice.
We're hesitant to date because we're spoiled with choices -- from Tinder to OKCupid and everything in between -- and all of these choices make us apprehensive about choosing.
We can't help but think deciding on one person means possibly neglecting someone better.
How, in this wonderfully connected universe, in which there are millions upon millions of people waiting to meet us at the press of a few buttons, can we truly know if a person is worthy of our hearts -- or, better yet, of our best date night outfit?
Because there are just too many people at our fingertips -- literally. We don't know whom to message online, ask out to dinner and, ultimately, fully commit to.
It's the same reason we can't choose what to watch on Netflix.
On Netflix, there are so many titles from which to choose, and they're all separated into too many categories and genres and sub-genres.
Then, we spend all this time browsing through movie titles and reading little summaries of each to judge whether or not we want to watch this one, or that one, or hey, maybe that one.
At the end of the day, there are just too many movies to choose from.
There are so many interesting titles and beautiful photos and wonderful storylines that merely choosing one feels like we're doing a disservice to ourselves.
If we allot ourselves a two-hour window to watch a movie before bed, the stakes are high: We have to pick a movie right this second or have no time to watch one at all.
But when we allot ourselves a whole lifetime to find “the one,” the overwhelming amount of choices become even more daunting. We want to pick someone good, but the stakes are lower because we don't have to pick so quickly -- so we just don't.
We base our impressions of every movie on a quick first glance, on merely a preview of the whole story.
If a title doesn't seem captivating enough during the five seconds we take to look at it, we move on to the next one. We don't even give it a try. And we're doing the same thing to people.
Online dating makes it easy to browse through profiles of millions upon millions of potential romantic prospects.
The only problem with profiles on social media is, like movie summaries on Netflix, they only tell a tiny part of the whole story.
Our shortened attention spans ensure we only hang around long enough to breeze through someone's profile and make a snap judgment.
Unfortunately, we forget the way someone presents him or herself on the Internet isn't really who he or she is.
What's presented online is merely the tip of the iceberg. It's a carefully crafted selection of ideas and qualities that people want you to know they have.
Skimming profiles won't give you any information about their relationships with their mothers, or how cute they look when they laugh, or the endearing way they cut the crusts off their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
It won't give you any information about a person's complicated past or the fact that a person once tried to take his or her own life or the long-lasting pain someone once caused him or her.
How can we really get to know a person if we keep judging him or her based on a condensed Internet version of his or herself?
We can't. That's the problem.
We're constantly curious if a better fit is out there.
We make assumptions about people based on a tiny glance of who they are, and often, they're incorrect assumptions.
And even when we make those assumptions, we don't commit to reaching out to the person because we're fearful that, with another click, we'll find someone whose small, condensed profile matches ours better -- someone who has more favorite films in common with us or who is closer to our age or whose interests mirror ours more.
Once we find that person, we doubt ourselves again. It's just way too easy to keep going, and going, and going.
Sure, before the age of the Internet, people certainly had doubts about their romantic partners and were nervous to commit to serious relationships and make first moves.
They certainly felt the same kinds of apprehensions we feel now.
But there was no Instagram on which to scroll through pictures and no iPhones on which to swipe right. There were nowhere near the levels of interconnectivity we have now.
Because of this, people had to put in more effort to meet someone and go on a date, and they didn't want all of that effort to go to waste -- which meant they put more effort into mending broken relationships.
Now, if a relationship isn't perfect, we don't even attempt to fix it. It's so easy to find someone new that we just drop it and move on.
We pause the movie. We press the little arrow in the top left corner, go back to the main menu and do this dance all over again.