The Authentic Life

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Presentation

Thesis: Online dating unlike traditional ways of meeting new peoplemakes it possible for online users to choose what identity toportray. This makes it difficult to tell if an individual is real,whether their personality in real life represents that presentedonline. Thus, one cannot help but question if online dating can trulyreplace traditional dating.

Summary

The project topic selected is on online dating. Online dating hasbecome a common phenomenon in modern culture. More and moreindividuals are seeking romantic partners online as compared totraditional dating. This is probably due to the advancement intechnology that makes it possible for individuals to be online at anytime and place. Also, people have become less engaged socially makingonline dating an alternative to meeting romantic partners. It is easyfor people to access online dating websites and create profiles thatact as the representation of the individual. Since in online datingthe online members have never met, profiles are very important inportraying the personality of an individual. Despite the widespreaduse of online dating, is it possible that it can replace traditionaldating?

Sources Used

The most important sources are those containing information ononline dating and its authenticity. Also important are sources thatcompare online dating to traditional dating. There is an array ofresearch that has been conducted on online dating. Most researchersconcentrate on the pros and cons of online dating. Few researchershave focused on its authenticity. Hence, least important sources werethose that focused on the pros and cons of online dating. The projectmakes references to the two recommended books during both the supportand counterargument.

Interesting statistics is that many people have a tendency to revealtheir true identity online as compared to communicating offline.Research demonstrates that it is easier for an individual to provideinformation about themselves to someone they have not met, forinstance through electronic mail, as compared to face to facecommunication. This is an interesting finding because it can onlymean that most online communication is not true. For an individual tobe honest, they have to demonstrate an ability to express themselvesin the similar way both online and offline.

Steps

The first step is conducting research on the topic. After compilingthe research, I have selected the most important sources andinformation that will be included in the project, and that relates tothe topic.

Struggles

Struggles are linked to making connections between the topicselected and information from the recommended books. The books do notprovide straightforward information and one has to carefully reviewthem to find relevant information.

Easy parts

It was easy to write about online dating and make a comparison totraditional dating. It is fun to read about the different experiencespeople have had when finding love online.

What was learned?

I have learned that many people prefer to meet romantic partnersonline provided that the encounters are successful. It is alsointeresting to learn that most people have created online profiles insocial dating sites.

Answer

I do not think it is possible to achieve and authentic life inAmerica today. The project demonstrates that in online dating, thereis a high possibility that people will fake their profiles. However,it is not possible to tell that an individual is telling the truthduring traditional dating as well. The possibility of online datingreplacing traditional dating depends on individual views on eitherapproach to meeting a partner. Hence, it cannot be judged that oneapproach is more authentic than the other.

In defining an authentic life, it is important to begin by definingwhat authentic means. The word authentic has been defined assomething that is true, something that conforms to facts and can betrusted as well as depended upon. Hence, authentic life regards toleading a life that is real. In our modern society, it has becomeincreasingly difficult to differentiate real from fake. People arefast conforming to what society deems as appropriate, in the processit is increasingly difficult to tell when an individual is beingtruthful or lying. Numerous cultural areas are questionable onwhether they result in leading an authentic life. One illustration ofmodern culture is online dating. People are fast moving from theconventional ways of meeting people and forming relationships.Developments in technology have introduced the use of the internet asa platform for meeting new people. However, in online dating, onecannot really tell if the individual they are chatting with is realor fake. Thus, with the widespread use of online dating, many issuessurface concerning the authenticity of meeting a romantic partner andforming a real relationship.

Online dating unlike traditional ways of meeting new people makes itpossible for online users to choose what identity to portray. Thismakes it difficult to tell if an individual is real, whether theirpersonality in real life represents that presented online. Thus, onecannot help but question if online dating can truly replacetraditional dating.

Online Dating

Dating behaviors have changed over the years in an array of ways.These include changes in the structure, kind and style ofcommunication employed. Conventional methods of dating includemeeting romantic partners in social places. This could be at parties,work, and restaurants or through friends. Now, new modes ofcommunication have changed dating trends. Individuals can simplysearch online for a lover (Finkel et al 2). People are rapidlyconnecting online, not merely for friendship or work related issues,but with the objective of finding romantic partners. The advancementof technology is such that people can connect to the internet almosteverywhere. This has especially been enhanced by the use of mobilephones easily connected to the internet that make it possible to chatat anytime and anywhere. Also, most members of society are leadingbusy lives that make it impossible to meet people via conventionalmethods. For instance, most people that work online rarely have thetime to meet people outside their already established social friends.This implies that for an individual working online and seeking aromantic partner, meeting people through online dating acts as aviable alternative.

Regardless of the probable risk of finding that individuals appeardifferent than they look online, the American society is fastaccepting online dating with immense interest. Research shows thatone in every five persons takes part in online dating (Match.com1). The statistics might seem surprising. However, contemplating onthe way society has become fast-paced leading to moreinterconnectedness of individuals online it is easy to understandthe statistic. The popularity of online dating has enhanced as morepeople are able to access dating websites. This has made it possiblefor people to effortlessly interlink their daily lives to seekingromantic partners. Moreover, a famous dating site, eHarmony.com,asserts that it has successfully connected individuals into formingromantic relationships resulting in almost 5% of marriages(eHarmony.com 1). Such statistics creates the impression thatpeople are not just meeting online, but that it is possible foronline relationships to work.

There are numerous aspects of online dating that makes it easy andwidespread. The search for love is difficult, while the process ofdating could result in frustration, rejection and doubt. Technologyendeavors to ease the process, as online dating makes it possible toseek romance comfortably. First, there are many online dating siteshence, creating the impression that people have a variety to choosefrom. Also, the process of joining an online dating forum is fast. Inmost instances, an individual is merely required to have anelectronic email account and connectivity to the internet. Afterwhich, the individual signs up for an online dating account, pays therequired fee, creates an online profile and is able to accessthousands of online profiles (Rosen et al 2126). There are somedating sites that offer bonuses for new members, for instance, makingit possible for a new member to search through profiles for free fora period of two weeks. In addition, since there are thousands ofindividuals online, individuals seeking romantic partners may preferonline dating because of the possibility of choosing a likableindividual from a list of profiles.

The Authenticity of Online Dating

It is apparent that modern culture has changed the dating process.Online dating is without a doubt a common trend, further enhanced bythe ease of the process. However, many questions surface on howauthentic online dating is, and can it be authentic enough to replacetraditional dating.

Online dating unlike conventional approaches to dating involvesindividuals that have not physically met. Websites make it possiblefor individuals to create online profiles that replace the aspect ofphysically meeting someone. The profiles act as the determiner inchoosing a user to chat with and possibly start dating. Hence, peopleseeking romantic partners are urged to create attractive profiles.Angelilli (1) notes that in online dating, an individual is merely asdesirable as the profile lets on. When seeking a partner online, anindividual hopes to relate with the person behind the profile(Gregoire 1). This can only mean that profiles are a very importantpart of online dating. When signing up to an online dating site, thekind of profile an individual puts up acts as the determiner ofwhether they get potential contacts or not resulting inmisrepresentation of an individual. Some daters might use profilephotos that are obsolete or fake. Others might overstate theirdetails in the process attracting gullible admirers. Hence, it ishighly likely that people will distort their profiles to make themappealing. Such distortions results in the creation of a falseidentity.

Society already has established ideals on how people should look ordress, and when creating profiles many users tend to follow societalexpectations. By following societal expectations, an individual’sself-identification is not achieved resulting in an inability toattain authenticity. In Fight Club, Tyler asks men toself-define. However, he slowly turns into a cult leader that stripsthe men their identity as well as self-definition. Instead ofbecoming the solution he becomes the problem. This is an example ofthe intricacy with authenticity. Every individual needs to beauthentic in their unique way, and not through copying what othersperceive as authentic. Men in the book make the move of attending thefight club where they experience themselves, but they becomedependent on Tyler and follow his ideals. This can be likened toindividuals on online dating sites, failing to portray their realprofiles, but rather what will be accepted by potential suitors.eHarmony.com in their website advices people on how their profilesshould look. One cannot help but question, if one goes online to meetreal people should their profile not also be real, why ones profileshould appear in a specific way. Clearly, online dating fails toprovide the realness in identity that is obvious in traditionaldating. When seeking romantic partners, people often want to meetpeople that are real, and any realization that a profile has beenfaked could outwardly result in the discontinuation of arelationship.

Online dating could result in a waste of resources and compelindividuals to shift back to conventional ways of meeting people. Theidea of creating an online profile where an individual could meet apossible partner seems easy. However, one is required to pay formembership. In addition, to get a partner one must spend a lot oftime online chatting and looking through profiles. According toFinkel et al. (3), millions of users have subscribed to becomemembers of online dating sites, where they also spend considerabletime. It is approximated that users spend close to twenty two minutesevery time they sign in to a dating website, which amounts to hoursweekly (Finkel et al 3). This is an enormous dedication of time andmoney that could be spared for other activities, such as engagementin offline social events. The time and money spent can only beworthwhile when an individual successfully meets a romantic partner.However, research has been inconclusive as to the possibility ofmeeting real romantic partners online. This results in questioningthe authenticity of investing in a search for love that wouldotherwise result in the waste of time and money. In traditionaldating, although meeting people may not also be successful, thedifference is that no money or time is wasted. There is no membershipfee to pay in order to meet potential partners, while most of themeetings happen during social events when time has already beenspared for engaging socially.

Online dating depends on the self-disclosure of individuals thatsubscribe to the dating sites. Self-disclosure is the act ofdisclosing personal information to strangers. When meeting offline,individuals are careful on what information they reveal. During theonset of an offline relationship, people begin by telling each othertheir interests (Rosen et al 2127). It is only after trust has beenestablished that individuals are able to self-disclose on morepersonal information. Contrary, people that meet via online datingnormally disclose more of themselves during the initial conversation.However, it is important to note that the online platform creates aprivate world where the information disclosed about an individual isbasically what one desires to disclose (Rosen et al 2128). It meansthat people communicating online are able to reveal information aboutthem that is not real. This is best explained in Tyler’s fightclub, when Palahniuk introduces the idea of mystic escapism. Thenarrator goes back to transcendental distancing methods at variouspoints in the novel as a manner of evading reality. As the novelbegins, the narrator joins support groups with the objective ofescaping from his troubles. In these groups, he does not give hisactual name (Palahniuk 18-19). The same applies to online dating,which makes it possible for individuals to distance themselves fromreality in the process of self-disclosure as they are not in directcontact with the individual on the other end of the communication.

Although the authenticity of online dating is questionable, does itimply that traditional dating is more authentic? Traditional datingdefinitely differs from online dating. People accept offline ways ofmeeting lovers because it is what society deems as right. Inaddition, the fact that someone interacts with a real person enhancesthe authenticity of dating offline. Possibly what has led to theacceptance of offline dating is its physicality. People are able tomeet and have the real picture of who they are communicating with.Contrary, online dating is all about profiles. Online users judge theappearance of a possible romantic partner online by their profile.But, in both instances physical attractiveness is an importantfactor. Offline one is attracted to the looks of another, whileonline one is attracted to the pictures included in the profile.

According to Potter in The Authenticity Hoax, authenticity ismerely a positional good. This means that it is something valuable asnot all individuals are capable of achieving it (Beston 1). Throughcompetition society aims at finding an individual more authentic thanother people. The competition leads to greater phonies. He uses theillustration of organic food. When individuals started to consumeorganic food, it seemed strange. But, people caught up with the trendof organic food advocating the associated health benefits as well asenvironmental consciousness. When more individuals had finallyaccepted organic foods, concerns were raised that local food was moreimportant. Those that support local foods currently scorn organicfoods. According to Potter, the search for the appropriate type offood is less of saving the environment and more of a pursuit toattain a specific self image (Beston 1). An image where modern lifeaspects are discarded and replaced with those considered moreauthentic. The same can be said of online dating. As an aspect ofmodern culture, it should be discarded for the more authentictraditional dating. However, The Authenticity Hoax describessuch discard and replacement as a game for finding the authentic(Beston 1). Hence, it becomes impossible to really achieve trueauthenticity.

Potter progresses to argue that the search for authenticity has beenreduced to competition. People compete over the display of goods,clothing or travelling. Authenticity becomes more of a status thanutility. He notes that authenticity is merely a mode of talk, which“does not pick out real properties in the world” (Potter 14).Importantly, Potter mentions that it is not possible to detect whenan individual is being authentic, because “there could never be anauthenticity detector we could wave at something, like the securityguards checking you over at the airport” (Potter 14). This meansthat any endeavor to differentiate amid authentic from inauthentic isnonsensical. In the case of online dating versus traditional dating,using Potter’s argument, it is not possible to term one method asauthentic over the other. In both online and traditional dating, itis impossible to tell if individuals are telling the truth. Just asone may falsely self-disclose online, the same can happen in offlinedating. Also, it is not possible to tell whether people are tellingthe truth or not be it online or offline. Thus, it would benonsensical to depict either online dating as more authentic thantraditional dating and vice versa as there is no measure ofauthenticity in either.

Can Online Dating Contribute to an Authentic Life?

As Potter has stated, it is impossible to detect when an individualis being authentic. The same applies to online dating. It is adeviation from what society has come to accept as the right way ofdating. Society greatly supports traditional ways of meeting peopleand forming romantic relationships. When people meet in socialevents, interact and start a relationship, then it is easier toconclude that they have been attracted to each other. This greatlydiffers from the selection of one individual from a list of othersonline. Questions concerning what criteria is used to select theindividual are many, is it appearance, personal information or simplytrial and error. With all these issues in mind, then seeking aromantic partner online becomes questionable. The chance that onewill meet someone who matches the criteria is bleak. Online profilesdo have individuals that are attractive, but in most cases, theprofiles have been altered to appear appealing to the targets.

Online dating requires individuals to self-define themselves. Whenan individual is asked to self-define, they provide information,which they feel suits them. There are some aspects about individualsthat are difficult to define. For instance, although one may describetheir personality to another person, it is better to learn aboutanother’s personality by observing their character. Traditionaldating makes it possible to potential lovers to spend time offline,prior to making any serious commitments. In the process, they get toknow more about each other, mostly by observance. This is one amongmany aspects of dating that continues to make traditional dating moreacceptable as compared to online dating. Simply reading through whatan individual describes about themselves is not as compelling asobserving the traits being displayed. Even in online dating, it isonly after the individuals have physically met and ascertained thatthe profiles and self-disclosure is true, that a relationship isformed.

In conclusion, it is not possible for online dating to result in anauthentic life. First, it involves persons that are strangers meetingover an online platform where they get to exchange information abouteach other. The information exchange is marred by issues like thepossibility of faking profiles, altering appearances through editingof profile pictures and individuals choosing what to disclose. Also,in order to meet a romantic partner online one has to invest time andmoney, yet there is no guarantee of successfully meeting someonelikeable. The possibility of online dating replacing traditionaldating methods continues to be debatable. The research shows thatnone of the dating approaches can be said to be authentic. The issuediscussed is a representation of impossibility of achieving anauthentic life in America today.

Works Cited

Angelilli, Amy. How to Accurately represent yourself in an OnlineDating Profile. Meet Mindful, 6 Apr. 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.&lthttp://www.meetmindful.com/accurately-represent- online-dating-profile/#&gt

Beston, Paul. Why It’s So Hard to Get Real. The Wall StreetJournal, 13 Apr. 2010. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

&lthttp://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304168004575178831348022238&gt

eHarmony. How to Create the Perfect Online Dating Profile.

&lthttp://www.eharmony.co.uk/dating-advice/using-eharmony/how-to-create-the-perfect- online-dating-profile&gt

eHarmony. Trusted Singles Online Dating Site – More thanPersonals. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

&lt http://www.eharmony.com/&gt

Finkel, Eli J., Eastwick, Paul W., Karney, Benjamin R., Reis, Harry Tand Sprecher, Susan. Online Dating: A Critical Analysis from thePerspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science inthe Public Interest, 20.10(2012): 1-64.

Gregoire, Carolyn. The Perfect Online Dating Profile isn’t PerfectAt All. The Huffington Post, 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.&lthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/17/online- dating-profile-perfect_n_6670228.html?ir=India&ampadsSiteOverride=in&gt

Match.com. The Leading Online Dating Site for Singles andPersonals. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

&lt http://www.match.com/index.aspx&gt

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. Sydney: Random House, 1997.

Potter, Andrew. The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost FindingOurselves. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2010.

Rosen, Larry D., Cheever, Nancy A., Cummings, Cheyenne and Felt,Julie. The Impact of Emotionality and Self-disclosure on OnlineDating versus Traditional Dating. Computers in Human Behavior,24(2008): 2124-2157.

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