Last year, I worked on a breakfast radio show where we played a game called ‘Elimi-date’. Four single people were placed in one room while another sat with us in the studio. They could all hear each other but had no clue on the appearance of the person in studio. Each took turns asking questions and if they didn’t approve of any comment or response they could push a button which took them out of the game immediately. Whoever was left (if any) at the end were blindfolded and brought into the studio. After the trusted countdown and revealing to each other, the contestants still had the opportunity to pull out if they didn’t like what they saw. Cruel? Maybe, but remember this is commercial radio and it was all about entertainment for the listener in the end. Seriously though, we had some minor success stories. A few went on a couple of dates, one continued well into the night after the lunch we had organised and others sadly left the studio without finding someone to at least share a free meal with.
All of our contestants had many and varied reasons for choosing to try our game. Some were tired of the ‘modern’ dating scene, some had come out of long-term relationships (even marriages) and were struggling with the concept of finding a new partner, some were trying it for a bit of fun, some just wanted sex, however, the underlying tone was that everyone just wanted to share a bit of themselves with someone else. There were people of many different ages and different persuasions. Yes, we even played a gay version of Elimi-date one morning, why not. A larger number of people are in search of dating experiences due to such cultural changes (DeMasi 2011, p.208). It appears to be much more acceptable now for anyone and everyone to give the many methods of matchmaking on offer a chance.
Online dating/Offline mating by TORLEY (CC BY-SA 2.0)
In today’s society, why is such a big deal being placed on where and how people meet and what their motivations are? Looking for love, a relationship, even casual sex seems to be a human trait that needs to be given some formulaic explanation just to satisfy the needs of those who question it. The online world is such a part of everyday life so why shouldn’t it be used to whet the appetite of a person looking for that someone special, or even not so special. It has occurred in nightclubs for decades. Almost all of our radio contestants also had online profiles and were using dating sites or apps to ‘hook up’. As DeMasi (2011, p. 206) explains it is now ‘common for people to publicly reveal their experiences with online dating’. It should be considered nothing more than another cog in the wheel in the search for human interaction. DeMasi (2011) argues that many dating sites only push out images of love and romance and shun any mention of sex or sexual activity. One only needs to consider the recent popularity of tinder (or grinder) to understand that any gap in the social market will be quickly seized upon and catered to. And why not. The space ‘in between categories’ on traditional dating sites have now been filled with the ever evolving offerings of the online world (DeMasi 2011, p. 213).
We have come a long way when considering media use and matchmaking in the past 30 years. In the 1980s, one of the highest rating TV shows was Perfect Match; a ‘wacky’ nightly dating show. Then came the rise of online dating companies and now the progression to apps specifically targeting certain audiences. What is popular now will become insignificant once the next creation takes over. While Perfect Match is now merely something you can cringe to (that fashion!), it’s public purpose was exactly the same; the never-ending quest to meet, interact and share one’s life with someone else. In the end, it doesn’t matter where or how you find it.
DeMasi, S 2011, ‘Shopping for love: online dating and the making of a cyber culture of romance’, in Seidman, S, Fischer N and Meeks, C (eds.), Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, pp. 206-13.