Internet Dating: Relationship Redefinition

In the book, “The Shallows”, by Nicholas Carr, the author discusses how our intellectual technologies (writing, the typewriter, the Internet) ‘rewire’ our brains as a result of frequent use. While Carr describes, in particular, how the Internet restructures our brain processes, as in how our minds function, I noticed that Lawson and Leck’s essay observed how the Internet challenged society’s predominant ways of thinking. Their essay about online dating examined in detail the variety of benefits of this courtship medium, but many of these attractions also challenged traditional social expectations and norms.

For instance, the sanctity of marriage is redefined. Recurring points in the essay pointed to the fact that users of online dating are often married, and their use of these sites is not restricted by this circumstance. Therefore, the traditional perceptions of marriage fidelity and exclusiveness have been reshaped by the online world of possibilities. These online dating sites both permit and promote coveting, as well as the explorations of multiple relationships. Internet dating platforms transform acts that generally have been viewed as sinful, scandalous or ‘wrong’, and portrayed them as the new acceptable social norms. And we have accepted them.

As well, these dating sites disrupt the conventional, and yes, stereotypical, notions of gender roles. Lawson and Leck’s essay examines how adolescent girls choose to explore their sexual aggressiveness online, and how both male and female users take advantage of the anonymity to explore opposite gender experiences. Women, who have most often been portrayed as the weaker sex in media, seize this opportunity to divert from this persona and adopt a more assertive attitude in their relations with  men. While the media also constructs the ideal man’s man, online dating sites offer men a chance to experiment with their understandings of the female perspective. However, it is important to note that these disruptions of conventional gender definitions proliferate because of the Internet’s lack of repercussions and its separation from the users’ real life identities.

I simply found it very interesting to note how the Internet not only affects the physical design and workings of our brain, according to Carr, but how Internet services have also altered our ways of thinking about the world around us. Online dating services replace old values and social behaviour and grant opposing ones status. Internet dating has thus done more than simply change the dating process for men and women. As a result of the availability and the promises of dating sites, we have also adapted our perceptions of relationships entirely.

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1 Comment

  1. The argument that rcl12 is adopting here is an important one–that humans are defined by the technology we use. Not just in a figurative sense, but it in a physiological one, as our brains visibly adapt to thinking in new ways. Muscle memory is a simple, but important example. I’ve recently switched to a laptop computer from my tabletop computer, and I’ve already noticed how strange it feels to go back to using a mouse control. Everything from spatial awareness to personal relationships changes with our technology–our Internet communities define us and shape us.

    –MH


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