The Illusion of Intimacy: Problems in the World of Online Dating
2012 nonfiction book by John C. Bridges
The members of the current generation of "digital guinea pigs" are true social pioneers as they embrace digital technology to create a new realm of mating, dating, and intimacy in America. Ironically, "digital dating" frequently … see full wiki
Or, for another group of readers totally unfamiliar with the subject a comprehensive overview of the online dating scene. These appear to be the audiences that author John C. Bridges has targeted for his new book "The Illusion of Intimacy: Problems In The World of Online Dating". Whichever one of these groups you happen to belong to you will surely come away with a far greater understanding of the risks, rewards, expectations and expense of this relatively new way to meet people. For the purposes of this book Bridges focuses on the five most popular online dating sites including Match, Chemistry, PerfectMatch, Yahoo!Personals and eHarmony. For those who are new to the process and have no absolutely no idea what to expect I think it would be very wise to read "The Illusion of Itimacy" before signing up for any online dating service.
Now there are all sorts of reasons that people opt to become a member of an online dating services (OLD). Some younger folks intensely dislike the bar and nightclub scene and use OLD as an alternative means to find their "soul mate". Meanwhile, those on the rebound from a bad relationship and recently divorced men and women seem to believe that online dating is a great way to get themselves back into circulation. Still others, 40% according to the author, use these sites as a means of arranging casual sex. I was stunned to discover that at any given time upwards of 65 million people are members of just these Top 5 dating sites at an average monthly cost of $30.40. I guess there really are a lot of fish in the sea!
Among the many problems that John C. Bridges found in his research for "The Illusion of Intimacy" is that the vast majority of people misrepresent themselves in their online profiles. Ample evidence indicates that all too many OLD members do not even write their own profiles. Rather, they engage the services of a friend or colleague who write better than they do. It goes without saying that if a person does not even write his/her own profile then there is bound to be some level of overstatement and deceit there. The fact of the matter is that many of these OLD's offer a service to help the member improve their profiles and charge a very handsome fee to do so. Furthermore, a dishonest profile is more likely to generate dishonest responses. And so as the author points out time and again "That posted profile in its entirety an illusion. It is a representation of the person that posted it." Buyer beware! Another major problem that John Bridges found was people tended to try to move things along much too quickly. Many of those on OLD sites are in that older 35-55 demographic and a large percentage are on the "rebound" from a bad or unsatisfying relationship or marriage. It seems that is is precisely this state of mind that will cause one or both of the people in a new relationship to try to speed things up. Bad idea! All too often the result is that these relationships never allow the proper time to form real bonds, create a shared history or even develop basic communication between the two individuals. Then of course, there is the reality that most OLD members bring a certain amount of baggage along with them. Bridges looks at a whole host of these issues and what the potential ramifications might be. But the fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of OLD relationships are destined to fail.
In putting together "The Illusion of Intimacy" John Bridges conducted dozens of interviews with OLD members. The book is sprinkled with quotations from these folks many of whom were quite candid about their own experiences. In Chapter 6 you will meet David and Marie. Bridges chronicles their erratic and erotic on-again, off-again thirteen month odyssey and explains why this particular relationship like so many others in the OLD world was "a visit to fantasyland". Bridges also touches on sites such as AshleyMadison and XXXMatch that as he puts it "specialize in finding adulterous 'friends with benefits' or late-night 'booty calls'". Personally I could do without that stuff but I guess we need to at least be aware of it.
At the end of the day I thought that "The Illusion of Privacy: Problems in the World of Online Dating" was a fairly worthwhile read. I found the writing to be a bit blase at times but having said that I definitely came away with a pretty very good idea of what the online dating scene is all about. For those contemplating joining one of these services John C. Bridges has provided his readers with a fine overview of what you can expect, what you should avoid and what you should be on the lookout for. A noble effort indeed! Recommended!
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