Crime & Tech: Dating online the new in thing

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Today’s technology has had a huge impact on our lives in all aspects and also transformed the dating scene using the ease of our access to technology. There is social media, text messaging, video calling and everything in between. We have 4,2 million Zimbabweans who are now living abroad and this has created a massive interest on the dating playfield.

Dumisani and Sandra have been dating for six months. The two met online and have never met in real life. To make the matter interesting, Dumisani proposed to Sandra which came as a shock.

Dumisani is working abroad, believes what is happening with the dating scene now, should never be a surprise since the world is now a digital environment.

Technology has changed the way we communicate with one another. It is easy to see how technology has changed dating. Facebook and other social media and dating apps are proving to be dominating and rewriting the dating scene. Before today’s internet and social media obsessed era, we did not “KNOW” as many people. Today, we can be on Facebook with strangers; we can follow thousands of people we do not actually “KNOW” on Twitter, and we can spend hours liking strangers’ pictures on Instagram.

Though these additions to our lives have their benefits, they also mean we are exposed to thousands of people we wouldn't otherwise have known. With this transformation, technology has added a lot more people into our lives.

Gone are old fashioned dating habits of trying to chat up a girl. In the past, dating was not as clinical and impersonal as it is today; potential partners actually interacted more directly, had more personal conversations, and got to know each other one-on-one and face-to-face. Today’s dating now relies on Google, dating app profiles, social media and the internet. Dating and falling in love is the most personal thing in your life, so how you fall in love and how you date should be personal as well.

Back in the day, there was something special about bonding over the phone rather than over text. "With texting, people hide behind their phones instead of extending the sweet gesture of a call," matchmaker Rori Sassoon says. Instead of relying so much on texting, Sassoon says to jump on the phone and discuss your day that way.

Most boys/men are afraid to talk to girls apart from my sisters (fact), but today’s technology has made it easier for these shy boys/men.

Just like Dumisani, a lot of men are  applauding these changes. But some criticise them for downplaying the intimacy part of it.

Another big change that technology has brought into dating lives is the need to be constantly in touch with one another. Though it can be nice to always be able to speak with your partner, it can add unnecessary strain to a relationship as well. Do you always need to know exactly what your partner is doing?

We are all familiar with the feeling that a long unanswered text message leaves us with. If your partner “ignores you” and doesn’t respond to you right away, whether or not you are being logical, it can be irritating. Technology has introduced us to fantastic ways to keep in touch with each other though constant contact is not always positive.

When you start dating someone these days, it quickly goes public and in some instances it even goes viral.

Similarly to the aforementioned “constant contact” online, meeting in person can kind of fall to the wayside. Dating apps like Tinder and dating sites like OK Cupid and Match allow you to build an entire relationship with someone online before you have ever met them in person. Though it leads to sweet stories, it is definitely a backwards approach in getting to know a person.

When using these dating apps to sign up for a dating website, we are asked to follow instructions like  swipe left or right depending on how attractive a person is. Sure, sometimes there are biases involved or jokes exchanged before you make your “decision,” but the whole act is largely based on whether or not you two find one another attractive. By nature, we judge people based on how attractive we find them, however, in a bar or other social setting, you would probably not tell someone to get away from you just because you did not find them up to your physical standards.

So dating may never be easy, but it is definitely easier to put yourself out there nowadays, seeing how technology has changed dating in so many ways. Rejection feels different from what it was in person and connecting with people comes quicker and more frequently. Also, sending a text message is always easier than calling someone on the phone, at least nerves-wise.

However, some of the drawbacks to online dating include the time, effort, lack of success, unwanted sexual messages, and the risk of people misrepresenting themselves. It seems then that online dating gives the whole notion of dating and love an interesting state. Online dating is now an option for Zimbabweans to find a partner.

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Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd. He is the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers.

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