Increased reliance on technology creates loss of intimacy in contemporary dating

With modern society’s fixation on the internet, it seems inevitable that technology would negatively impact social interaction. This is particularly evident in romantic relationships, many of which start online, where intimacy is lacking (courtesy of Creative Commons).

Our society today is dominated by technology. In schools, students learn computer skills and it is rare to see a college undergraduate without a laptop. People of all ages carry their cellphones on them 24/7 and most are constantly talking on the phone, texting or checking Instagram.

This increased reliance on technology has created a culture of people who struggle with interpersonal connection, making the modern ideals of dating far less intimate than in the past. Despite the advantages that come with online dating, people must be cautious not to sacrifice physical closeness in their relationships that begin online.      

In 2015, 92% of American adults had a phone, including smartphones, and 73% owned a desktop or laptop computer. Notably, people ages 18-29 show the most technology ownership. Of this age group, 86% own smartphones, 98% have a cellphone and 78% own some variation of a computer. 

Younger generations—ages 16-34—dominated most major social media platforms in 2014 alone, like Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, according to Statista. Most people in these age groups participate on these platforms, with 79% of 13-24-year-olds actively owning and using Snapchat and 73% having an Instagram.

With these statistics, it makes sense that our culture is becoming increasingly less personal. Many of our daily interactions, including dating, occur through lines of code and small pieces of metal. New people are meeting through these social platforms and sometimes the entirety of the interactions occur on them. 

When two young people first meet, specifically in high school or college, in person or on an app, there is a hierarchy of communication. Of course, there is the fine art of “sliding into those DMs,” or chatting on Snapchat. Casual pictures, selfies and some basic conversation will continue for a while until one of them thinks things are getting serious enough to exchange phone numbers so they can text. This entire process is just “talking,” often while each party stalks the other’s social media footprint.  

There are so many advantages to this method of talking before in-person interaction. Men and women alike can build up some measure of trust and establish a small connection before they even have to commit to meeting. It’s a good way to ensure safety and see if there is any possibility of attachment. 

This system fuels a loss of people’s personality, however. Many people interact differently through text compared to in person—body language and expression are incredibly important to understanding true meaning and sometimes and person’s true nature. So, while someone may seem funny and good-natured with smiling emojis over chat, they could be cold and unkind, or even heartless, in person.

Only a few decades ago, before cell phones and computers were incredibly common, most people met in person and the entire relationship formed through physical time together and talking over the phone directly. It was much more likely people would have a better grasp on the true nature of others, but there was greater chance that dangerous situations, especially for women, could arise. 

It seems we have become more dependent on the online world as our interactions in general have decreased, even though there is more freedom. There are benefits, of course, to the ability to easily communicate with someone no matter their location or circumstance, but we are starting to communicate and form relationships online more than in person.