For better or worse, I'm admittedly a connoisseur of online dating. And while the vast majority of first dates have been completely fruitless for forming a meaningful connection, they provided me with the most wonderful ancillary benefit: I have learned more about our society and humanity than any formal education could ever teach. I have learned to appreciate the decisions and lifestyles of everyone from artists fully subsidized by their megawealthy daddies to hard-working independent professionals climbing the service industry ladder.
Whether you are a lawyer, nurse, artist, or publicist, you inevitably surround yourself by people who share your background. Most of your friends probably came from your high school, college, or work interactions and thus likely share your socioeconomic status, views on religion, views on political issues, and level of ambition. Yes: I'm sure you have a few black sheep friends who don't fit the mold... but by and large, you live within a self-selected bubble of views and backgrounds. Even Facebook, the social network that's supposed to connect the world, intentionally filters your newsfeed to show you agreeable views.
Meeting People vs. MEETING PEOPLE
You could argue that we interact with a diversity of people daily. But, most of these interactions are highly superficial. Maybe you'll both cheer for the same team. Or maybe you'll order the same drink. But you won't dig past the surface. You aren't entering the interaction with the explicit goal of opening up to each other like you would on a date.
Dates Offer Windows Into Lives
Online dating offers you an opportunity to quickly form connections with people. When you meet for your date, you are both resolving yourselves to engage in a personal dialogue. When else do conversations with complete strangers consistently include talk of family values, employment history, sexual experiences, and life-shaping journeys?
Play Your Part
You might argue that singles tend to be reserved on the first date and hold back truths. Some do. But many have realized that the efficacy of dating works when you reveal your important values up front rather than showing true colors months down the road and potentially causing a painful breakup. I'm not implying you should volunteer your full medical history and bank accounts, but simply encouraging you to be honest with yourself and your date and express your core beliefs.
On the receiving end, you should try your best not to view the date as an interview where you are judging and over-analyzing the person's every word. Instead, learn to appreciate how that person chose to shape their life (or had their life shapen for them).
Give online dating a shot: if all goes well, then you might have met the partner of your dreams. But even if you never speak again, you are sure to get a new life perspective.
Personal Disclaimer: I'm an avid online dater partially because it's my job to be. Though I'm the founder Sparkology, the best dating site for young professionals, I myself can't use it for ethical reasons. Instead, I'm relegated to doing "market research" on competitors' apps like Match, PoF, Tinder, and OKCupid.
Edited by: M.O.