I heard a discussion on the radio the other morning about how to meet potential mates these days. It was all about the popularity of online dating sites, dating apps you could put right on your phone, swiping right to indicate interest and left to let someone know they didn’t make the cut ... and I learned two things. This stuff really does exist, and I must have existed with the dinosaurs because I am getting way too old to see how anyone buys into this garbage. We’re talking relationships with real flesh-and-blood human beings here, not ordering a pizza or getting directions to the mall. And the thing that really horrifies me is one of the most popular sites — Tinder — has you look at a photo, read a bio of interests, and then sweep right if you’d like to meet them, or simply dismiss them altogether by sweeping left. In an instant they’re out with the trash. It’s a devaluation of humans, and the whole thing sickens me to the core.

Whatever happened to the old-fashioned way that boy used to meet girl? Or man meets woman? Or boy meets boy? Or girl meets girl? Years ago when Moses and I were in algebra class together you might have met someone “interesting” at school, at work, or in a church youth group. Maybe your friend’s sister’s cousin winked at you at a picnic, or as Richard Rodgers penned in the musical “South Pacific,” “some enchanted evening you may see a stranger across a crowded room.” It really wasn’t so old-fashioned after all. It worked in many cases, and a lot of those people went on to marry, have families, and heaven forbid, be happy for years without ever having to swipe left when the going got tough.

But now we are encouraged to go online and pay — yes, pay — for matching services and dating apps. You know what else you might also find online? A whole lot of scams, lies and deception because of them. How do you know for sure that the photo you’re seeing online is really that woman or that man? And when they cancel a trip to meet you in person because their car broke down, and they don’t have money to fix it and need a loan, are you really being tapped by someone honest, or by a scam artist based in Nigeria?

How can there possibly be a spark when you’re sitting in front of a computer looking at a bunch of photos and words? Don’t you want to experience the energy of meeting that person in the photo who’s actually speaking those words? Whatever happened to body language, tone of voice, in-person communication?

But, hey, we order everything else today online, so why not people? Then if it doesn’t work out, we can just sweep that one away and go right back online and get another one. There are now many dating sites I found when I did some research: Tinder, Match, Badoo, Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, and POF among others. I was curious, so I checked out what POF stood for ... it’s Plenty of Fish, as in the old saying, “... in the sea.” I had an aunt who used to say, “There’s a lid for every pot and a seat for every ass.” Same idea, I guess.

With few exceptions, you have to pay for these online dating services, and it’s not cheap either. They’ve got monthly plans, short-term plans, three-month plans, annual deals, and one even advertises a “one-time lifetime payment.” I guess they don’t put much faith in their product, or else they just want to make a fast buck from those who are wowed by a one-time payment.

I know there are exceptions. My cousin married a man she met on Match.com. They’ve been married about 17 years now, have a son, and are still together. Then again, I have an old college classmate who’s been doing the dating-site thing for probably 15 years or more now. She vows each time when the relationship dies after a few months or a few dates that she’ll never do it again, but she always does. Online dating is her drug of choice, and she’s hooked, just like the gambler who always believes, “Next time I’ll hit, just wait.”

Yup, my old auntie was right, there’s always a seat for every ass.

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 19 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at six07co@att.net or 401-539-7762.

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