This world of dating just gets more and more complicated.
What happened to the good old days of:
Speaking to your love interest…in person
Taking long walks…in person
Holding hands…in person
Expressing other forms of affection…in person
What happened to the times when, if you were not able to see your love interest physically due to distance or some other form of separation, you would take your time to put together a thoughtful, heartfelt and handwritten letter expressing your love and care for the person. It seems like we are just not that poetic anymore or really just cannot be bothered.
Or maybe we are a little afraid of doing such things because of how vulnerable we get when it comes to the expression of emotions and romance in general. Social media has become that catalyst or device in the process that makes our lives much easier; and in the opinion of some, exposes us to less risk of rejection. But now the question is, “Is it supposed to be easy?” What happened to the fight for love? Does it still exist, or have we taken it to a whole new platform?
Whether we like it or not, and sad as it might be, social media has become an integral part of our mode of communication and interaction. It is not going anywhere any time soon; it is really here to stay. These days, with applications such as Snapchat, Instagram (now with Instagram Stories), Twitter and Facebook, the need to see people in person and find out what they get up to has nearly been eliminated.
We no longer even feel bad when we don’t see some of our friends for a prolonged period of time because, through their social media platforms, we know exactly what they get up to. We now even have live videos that make us sometimes feel like we are in their physical presence.
When it comes to the topic of dating, it is possible and very common these days that a person has a love interest of whose existence this person is completely clueless about. But this love interest knows so much about the person as a result of the person’s social media posts…. which essentially make up the person’s social media personality. To be honest (and in my opinion), there is nothing wrong with this because the person of interest put his/her information out there for the public’s viewing pleasure. So no one really has the right to complain about being stalked on social media because it is their own choice to have their information out there.
A few years ago, I was completely opposed to the concept of meeting people online and establishing relationships with them in person. I once asked a friend for her opinion about it and she thought it was okay. Again, her rationale was, “You are out there on the media, you are sending out your information. Why can’t people interact with you?” For me, interaction then was limited to the platforms themselves, and by no means planning physical meetings from there, bearing in mind security issues at the time with the example of the murder of Cynthia Osokogu back in 2012 by friends she met on Facebook.
However, these days, it is not uncommon to hear of married couples that met and started dating via Twitter. So is this the new normal? Is it now okay to accept invitations from people who slide into our DMs despite not knowing them well enough to start a conversation with them? While some people still endeavour to hold on to the traditional way of doing things, I think we could try to adapt to this new way of communication because it is really all about the approach and the person’s intentions, as they might actually be pure.
For instance, a girl might see a guy at multiple events, given how tiny Lagos is and how closely interlinked our social circles are. He may not talk to her because he is very shy, but her gut tells her that he finds her attractive based on some stolen glances, the way he looks at her and his body language in general. Yet, he doesn’t say anything on seeing her in person…. but hold on, a few days after she sees him, he sends a social media follow request, then performs the tactical but risky act of sliding into her DMs hoping that she responds (while having it in mind that rejection over this platform would not be as catastrophic as rejection in person).
But his approach is very polite compared to the diminished standards we have become accustomed to these days. After a few short DM conversations (mostly small talk), the guy takes a progressive approach and asks for her number and then when they get comfortable speaking over the phone, asks to meet in person…and then… you can guess the end of the story from there.
The message here is essentially that this wave of virtual media has is taking over the way we communicate. But we should be mindful of the way we use it. We still have to be respectful in the way we approach people and situations, especially when it comes to dating. Also, we should bear in mind that virtual interaction can never be a good enough substitute for physical interaction. So we should not get lazy or complacent with the ease that communication via virtual media provides.
Written by Oyin Egbeyemi
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer. She blogs at https://thevoiceofsamanthabrown.blogspot.com.ng/ and you can follow her on instagram (@samantha_brwn) or twitter (@OyinEgbeyemi)