Though it’s been discussed many times before, I want to put my two cents in on something shocking that has recently come to my attention. Something questionable that has been bothering me for some time now. A friend has recently begun dating someone he met on the Internet.
How is it that someone with a Yale education needs to meet a significant other online? Are we incredibly capable in most areas of our lives but so incapable in others that we can’t perform the most common of social functions? There’s a serious problem with us if we come out of one of the best colleges in the world with little to no idea of how to date or interact with others face-to-face. Or, more worrisome, that we are too lazy to find someone ourselves, and have started to take advice from the most unlikely of matchmakers: the computer.
I do feel some sympathy for this and am not unfamiliar with it. My own sister married a man she met through Match.com, and my brother recently paired off with a woman he met on another personals Web site. We are, of course, from Seattle, where the nerdiest of the nerdy reside.
However, those of us who remain on a college campus, graduate or undergraduate, have constant access to an already screened gene pool. We can assume baseline intelligence, an ability to talk demurely over dinner, and from what is observable on any given walk through campus, a high level of attractiveness. Why is it that I know several people, who seem otherwise completely capable of finding a mate, searching for love on the Internet when it could be walking by them in Commons?
There are some legitimate reasons, I suppose, for pairing yourself in this way. One of them is boredom with those you see on a daily basis. “He’s too arrogant.” Or “She dated my roommate.” I’ll give you that much, but I assure you that there are thousands of Yale students you could meet with whom you won’t be bored. A lack of time? Are we really so strapped for time that we need a computer to calculate our compatibility with millions of other time-deficient applicants? I guess it’s true that it could be faster this way. In .17 seconds, a Google search will find you 135 million Web sites to find you your perfect match.
Another is the desire to make yourself look as good as possible, and fine-tune your first impression to a science. Many of us are already victims of this: Take a hard look at some Facebook photos of people you actually know.
What is it about the computer that makes us trust it as much as we do? Do we really think it knows us better? The claims of eHarmony suggest that it does. Another, Okcupid.com, declares that Harvard math grads have fine-tuned its analysis of personality and compatibility. Even Harper’s has an ad for an all-Ivy dating service.
I maintain that the only one who knows what you want in a relationship is you, and that you can only deem your significant other compatible with those desires through face-to-fact contact. You can always rely on the Internet when you are removed from the college life, as a last resort. It is now more important to enrich your social skills, think of it as research for the workplace. I’m sure there will be countless occasions on which you will be required to be charming.
In short, there is no reason to spend extra time on the computer to find a date. There are plenty of options and good reasons to find one at Yale. And if you’re a Yale student, chances are that you don’t need a computer to help you.
Melissa-Victoria King is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.