LPLE #10: How Online Dating Works and the Lack of Social Interaction

Welcome to LPLE, "Let's Practice Listening in English!"

Jesse and Andrew talk about online dating, older methods of meeting people, and the loss of the ability to introduce one's self to a stranger.

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TRANSCRIPT

Intro [Jesse]: Hi everyone. My name is Jesse Robbins, and welcome to LPLE from Dialogue FM. We're the podcast that lets you practice listening in English. We speak English slowly and clearly so that you can follow along and understand native English speakers more easily. I'm excited to help you improve your English listening skills, as well as help you learn new vocabulary, grammar, and idioms commonly heard and conversation among native English speakers. If you want to practice listening in English, then we invite you to join our conversation.

Jesse: Hey, Andrew.

Andrew: Hey, Jesse.

Jesse: Let me just say that dating in our society--modern-day dating--confuses the hell out of me.

Andrew: I am right there with you.

Jesse: We are both in our early thirties...

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: ...and when we look back on our twenties--common dating age--dating was a lot different than what dating looks like now.

Andrew: Yes. I think the dating culture that you and I grew up with was a much more traditional form of dating--that's the type that is probably closer to the kind of dating that maybe even our parents did when they were younger--and technology and social networking and the internet have kind of broken all of the rules that you and I used to follow...

Jesse: ...and have created their own rules.

Andrew: Yes. New standards and also ways of interacting and ways of meeting people that you and I didn't even have when we started going out to meet romantic partners.

Jesse: Now, of course, there are pros and cons, there are the benefits and drawbacks, to this new form of dating, and you can say there's benefits and drawbacks, pros and cons, to the old way of dating back in our twenties.

Andrew: Right!

Jesse: I feel confident enough to say that if I were a single man now, I just could not handle the modern-day dating scene, which is-... I'm mean, what are the common apps that people use nowadays?

Andrew: I think that nowadays rather than going to the bar and trying to meet someone you've never seen before, or being introduced through a friend, or asking someone out who you knew in a different context, either at work or to school, is not the most common way anymore because we have matchmaking websites like OkCupid or Match.com in the United States, or I think the most popular in our city is Tinder, which is the mobile app on our phone that lets us meet people without a whole lot of introduction and without a whole lot of detail about who the person is. It is like Facebook reduced to a picture and two sentences, and people make decisions on the spot about whether or not they are interested in meeting the other person. And, my understanding--I've never used this; I feel like a very old man just because I'm no longer in the market for this service--but, my understanding is you look at a bunch of pictures, see the person's first name, and read two sentences about them, and you say "yes, I'd like to meet this person," or "no, I wouldn't," and that is enough to carry on the conversation to the next level, because once both people say "yes" then they're allowed to contact each other and make plans for a date, which is about like walking into a coffee shop, and making an order, finding out the person behind you made the same order, and then going on a date next, which seems kind of crazy fast to me and without a whole lot of planning or preparation.

Jesse: The screen on your phone, even with a [iPhone] 6 Plus, is not that large to contain a lot of information about someone, and then make a determination of whether or not you want to spend the next hour, or two hours, or five hours of your life with them.

Andrew: Hahaha...

Jesse: That's really what you're doing. You're trying to create-... Have the best looking photo of yourself and combine the best mix of words such that you will attract somebody.

Andrew: Right. I think we are coming off sounding a bit old and out of fashion with this...

Jesse: Yeah, out of touch.

Andrew: ...out of touch, really, because we are used to meeting people earlier in the process and kind of evaluating from afar or being introduced, and things move a bit more slowly, and you are considering a person rather than an idea, and I think that's just us not being ready for this technology more than anything else, because I think you and I, because we have partners, don't need to be out finding new people all the time. And, what this technology lets you do is skip the part where you have to bravely introduce yourself to someone you don't know in the bar, or beg all your friends for introductions, or hope you are lucky enough to meet someone at a sports team, or a job, or a school that meets your interests.

There's a lot of research that we had to do--I guess, in general--that people can skip and go to meeting people right away, and that seems to be what everyone wants in the first place. So, I think it's actually probably a good thing.

Jesse: In the end, it's definitely made the process a lot easier for people. The barrier to talking to new people is dramatically reduced.

Andrew: Right.

Jesse: But, therein also lies a problem: We've lost the ability to talk to other people, right? If you think about, we've somewhat lost the ability to effectively introduce ourselves to a complete stranger and strike up a normal conversation.

Andrew: Do you think that people had to practice being social and charming in person because they were forced to because of all of the dating that needed to happen before you got to know someone in the past, and that now people don't need to practice, and so they aren't as good at it?

Jesse: I think there's an element of training that goes on--trial by fire, learning through experience. When I look back, before I met my current wife, when I was in the dating scene, when I was engaged in dating and introducing myself to women, yeah, there was an element of learning how to introduce myself appropriately, there were some successes and there were plenty of failures. Overall, I felt like it was a good skill to learn, primarily because you eventually learn how to get over that fear of introducing yourself to a stranger, and I think that skill carries over into a lot of other things. You can carry that skill over into your professional life, which is just learning how to go into a new room and introduce yourself to new people. I think that there's-... As nice as it is to streamline, to make it easier to meet people for the purpose of a potentially romantic relationship, I do believe that there's an element of social interaction that is lost, a particular skill that is lost.

Andrew: And, I think I agree with you in terms of the software not being able to add that social interaction. What I think is happening is that people get to know more about the person before they have to expend the energy, so people who are naturally social, naturally friendly can go out there and meet people the old fashion way. But, they also have this tool to meet more people sooner, which lets them practice sooner with more people, if that is their stumbling block. So, I think, on balance, it is probably better, it is-... We have the old ways and we have the new ways, and people have more options, in general, when they're going out to find their next date.

Jesse: Much like I would assume everybody in the dating scene agrees: The more options, the better.

Andrew: Agreed.

Outro [Jesse]: Thank you for listening to this episode of LPLE, Let's Practice Listening in English, from Dialog.FM. Subscribe to LPLE on iTunes to hear the latest episodes, or listen to past episodes on our website, Dialog.FM. That's d-i-a-l-o-g-dot-f-m. If you have questions or comments about English, or if you would like for us to use a word, grammar, or idiom in our conversation so you can learn how to use it correctly, we would love to hear from you on Twitter at @dialogdotfm or Facebook at facebook.com/dialogFM