Virtually Dating: The Evolution of Digital Dating
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
The world has extended beyond the six square blocks that we kicked around back in 1980-something. There was a time, between the age of Pac Man and the Nintendo Zelda craze, that we found our friends’ location by riding around the neighborhood and counting how many bikes were stacked outside a house.
The internet’s dominion over distance brought what was once on the other side of the globe into close proximity. We have come a long way from the agonizing minutes of AOL ‘dial-up’ that featured intense fiberoptic foreplay vibrating from the speakers in groans and high-pitched squeals as AOL connected us to the world.
If you were a teenager past curfew, there was no way your parents didn’t hear you hop online, which was the previous form of parental controls. Today’s seamless transition from local to worldwide has had a colossal effect on who is available in the dating pool. If dating is a numbers game, the odds are ever in your favor. So, how is it we got here, and where exactly are we going? Glad you asked!
Online Dating Origins
People ‘matching’ services using questionnaires and computer-generated matches as been around since the 1970s. An arsenal of online bulletin boards that acted as pen pals flourished in the 1980s. But it was the 1994 launch of Kiss.com (now udate.com) that is widely considered the first dating website. Match.com came on the scene just a year later.
Both Kiss.com and Match.com allow you to set up your profile and view other people’s profiles. The site makes suggestions for matches, and you can decide to reach out on your own as well. Both sites remind me of a people catalog that you can sift through. The sites sparked several of the well-known sites today, such as:
Sites and apps evolved to be more specialized in the early 2000s, such as:
SeekingArrangment - which is sugar babies looking for sugar daddies
Grindr - focusing on bisexual/gay/trans relationships
Tider - free for all
3ndr - focusing on polygamy relationships
Spoonr - for people within walking distance of each other
Ashley Madison - focused on extramarital affairs
With so many platforms, it makes you wonder exactly how many people are using them?
How Many Fish Are In The Pond Today & Sexting?
Over 40 million Americans have tried online dating, and it is the 2nd most common way people meet. More interestingly, 88% of people have sexted (sent explicit sexual wording, videos, or pictures). What’s interesting here is that the majority of sexting occurs when people are out and about at the grocery store, running errands, or at work.
The next time you observe someone in the center of the aisle paused with a stoic look on their face furiously clicking away on their keyboard - it is likely you are witnessing an afternoon delight. After all, 8 out of 10 people sext frequently. Because of the popularity of sexting and chatting, dating apps generally come with a way to entertain both types of activity. Below are some of the more popular ones.
Photo credit: pbs.org
Apps have made it easy peasy to social network, online date, and hook up. Participating in online activities is not a male-dominated sport. Over 75% of women enjoy social networking online from the comfort of their own home.
Anonymity provides a sense of security to engage in conversations and with people that women may not have approached otherwise. Unfortunately, you don’t always know who exactly you are talking to. One constant problem in online dating that happens so frequently a specific word was created: Catfishing.
Catfish Swimming In The Dating Pool
It is worth noting that 81% of the dating population lies about their age, weight, or height. There are worse things. Dating sites are notorious for luring people in on lies. Predators and pedophiles have been known to frequent chat rooms and dating sites earning confidence to destroy lives.
MTV’s show Catfish has confronted several individuals who were not who they portrayed to be online and have published the statistics of what they have found. The show is credited with bringing to light the dangers of dating to all generations that take part in the platforms.
In 2018, the FBI showed that 18,000 people were victims of catfishing, with losses exceeding more than $362 million. The amount of victims is believed to be underreported because many don’t come forward due to the intimate nature and embarrassment. The 2018 numbers were up 70% from the previous year, and numbers keep going up. Some astonishing facts:
64% of catfishes are women, making men 25% more likely to be catfished
73% of predators use someone else’s photo
53% of Americans admit to false information on their online profiles
51% of online daters are already married or in a relationship
83 million Facebook accounts are assumed fake
With the pandemic and more people thrust into the online world, the catfishing numbers are likely skyrocketing.
Tips To Not Fall Victim To Catfishing
Google Image Search
Google has a feature that I like to refer to as the great equalizer. You can take someone’s photo that they provide or in their profile and search the image. Google will show you where that photo appears on the internet, like advertising stock photos or someone else’s social account.
Click on Google Images
Click Search Image
Past the URL where the picture is (in most cases, you can right-click, copy and paste)
Meet In Real-Time Via Media Platform
Several platforms allow video conferencing in real-time such as Skype, Zoom, Google, Line, and some dating apps and sites. Utilizing these services to meet can save you a lot of heartache in the future and give you a more concise story of what you are dealing with.
Run A Background Check
If things are moving along in an online relationship, and you are ready to meet in person, do a simple background check. Several websites will perform this service for you for a nominal fee, such as InstantCheckMate.
Be Smart & Take It Slow
Be cautious. Don’t give money, address, personal information, etc. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be victimized. Always meet in public once your date has passed the previously mentioned scans. There are no 100% safeguards in any relationship, so error on the side of caution.
Virtual Reality Dating: The Next Step
In 2020, a series called Upload was featured on Amazon Prime. The storyline was after you die, the entire essence of your ‘self’ is uploaded to a server. This server is a virtual world like heaven for those with money.
The dead can communicate with the living through VR. They can even have sex with their dearly departed. Special suits would be worn that allow them to feel everything during the encounter. This is where I believe we are going, sex in a suit.
Virtual Reality worlds demolish limitations. Not only could we be ourselves, but we could be anyone or thing that we wanted to be. You want to bang a blue alien while you are a vampire - totally possible. You also wouldn’t need another person; virtual reality robot creations could fill in those blanks. You could construct your perfect mate.
The landscape is also unlimited. Dating just leveled up. If you want to go to the moon, Greece, on top of Mount Everest - it’s possible. The virtual world is as vast as your imagination and limited as the technology that provides the bridge to the world.
VR would allow people that have physical limitations from experiencing sexual relationships to do so. VR could conquer some of the challenges of long-distance dating. What about conjugal visits for inmates? Elderly couples? Did we just become a world free for all amateur group porn?
Are these experiences any less real because you are immersed in VR and not in the physical world? Is this enough to elevate your Facebook page to ‘In A Relationship’? Since you can feel everything without risk of injury or disease, there is no accountability unless you put that on yourself.
Hooking Up In VR
VR dating is perfect for career-focused individuals who want sexual encounters without the complications of a relationship. They could sign on at their convenience, see who or what is available, and walla sexcapade! To leave, unplug. It doesn’t get the sheets messy, so there’s no sleeping in the wet spot, and there are no awkward silences waiting for their taxi ride home.
For others, an avatar’s anonymity allows them to open up more than they would in person or approach people they may never have approached in real life. If you don’t hit it off with someone on a blind date, you are not trapped in VR; you simply unplug.
With the endless places to go and things to do, if you are a person of limited means, you would be able to take your date to virtual places and experience things that you would not be able to entertain in real life.
If you met ‘the one,’ you could have a VR wedding where the entire family of 500 could attend, open bar. What if you meet two Ms./Mr. Rights? Is there polygamy in VR? Will we see articles in Cosmopolitan magazine detailing ‘Ten Ways to Keep Your VR Man’? Complexity enters the equation.
VR Impacts On Society
Social, ethical, and moral guidance isn’t easily established in VR. There are basic game/world developer codes of conduct; however, that means Big Tech rules the world, and they run mostly by consumer demand.
You can report offensive behavior and material as well as threats as defined by these developer rules, but is polygamy really a threat, or is it just a preference? Is dating ten people at once an offense? Or is it a misunderstanding or a difference in perspective? Since VR is not real-world, the same rules technically need not apply.
There are people from several different countries, cultures, and beliefs thrown into one area of the general virtual population. People want the safety of conformity to societal laws. But what laws? The state you live in? The country they live in? Is there Judge Judy in VR?
If VR is not real, but your feelings are, are you owed restitution for the injustice of your experience? How do you measure such a thing? Does this give you the right to sue? The possibility for you to be sued if you were unaware you broke someone’s heart? To be banned?
These are questions that we may have to answer relatively soon. Today, there are no full-body devices to put on, but we do have stand-alone headgear, the minimal equipment to achieve a devoted mental state while immersed in VR. The virtual Sex Eden hasn’t been created yet, but we all know it will be.
The more VR saturates everyday life, the more we engage it to seek emotional or sexual gratification. VR becomes a tool to escape the world we live in. Reality will likely change its code of conduct to react to what has taken place in VR.
Simply said, laws are generally reactive, not proactive. It will be VR shaping us, not the other way around. Virtual Reality will shape our reality. Ironic, isn’t it? It’s impossible to have the foresight to know:
What guidelines need to be set
How to police and enforce these guidelines; and
How to protect society at large without suffocating innovation & freedoms
Are there dangers? Sure, most likely - but is there any way to know all of them? Nope. People never cease to amaze me in their clever capabilities and sinister thoughts. I’m probably the most surprised with what comes out of my mouth and mind at times.
Is Virtual Reality Available Now?
To my knowledge, virtual reality in dating is mostly one-sided sexual gratification. There hasn’t been a virtual world created that allows you to actually ‘feel’ and experience the other person.
Let’s be real though; it only took a year after movies were invented to introduce porn films. Virtual Reality porn is already available on phones and PCs, but again, it is one way - only visual to the user.
VR is becoming more sophisticated and experimental. The introduction of Augmented Reality being applied to nearly every industry within the last few years boosts the prospect of bringing a date to your living room.
Augmented Reality digitally creates a product in your real-world environment. For example, Pokemon uses AR for battles. The Pokeman looks as if it is actually in your living room or on the street. You can even take a selfie with your Pokeman using the AR.
The Impact Of VR Remains To Be Seen
The natural evolution of technology combined with humans’ demand for sexual gratifications will prevail in creating a virtual world with all of the senses intact to enjoy the experience.
Being able to act on every impulse and fetish when you want is an exciting concept and will, without a doubt, push the boundaries of accountability for actions. After all, if it occurred in a virtual world, a world of fantasy and indulgence, did a crime occur since VR was entered into voluntarily?
I hope that with an abundance of tolerance, a sense of responsibility, and the bravery to allow pioneering in a new virtual arena, VR will bring the possibility to:
Forge meaningful friendships
Participate in diverse networks
Strengthen communication & relationships across humanity
Help build a prosperous reality through shared innovation
And of course, blue alien sex, sign me up.