“How can you meet anyone without the internet?”
Kasey was asking a rhetorical question. She honestly didn’t believe there was any other way for her to meet a man.
Since switching to a job working entirely from home, she relied on social media as her only opportunity for human interaction.
It was crazy, she told me, to think of all the people she used to run into on a daily basis in her old life. She’d bump into people on her way to work. She’d bump into people at the coffee shop. She’d bump into people at the gym.
“It’s hard to imagine that many people in the world now!” she laughed. “At least I’ve got Zelda.” (Zelda, at that moment, was purring on her lap.)
When most of your socializing occurs online, you have to learn a whole new set of skills…
Like how to present yourself well on camera…
How to navigate the Wild West of social media…
Or how to make a genuine connection when you’re staring at a screen.
And Kasey was having problems with all of it.
Problem #1. Camera Consciousness
I was talking to Kasey over Zoom, and she appeared very much at home on the call. I remarked on her ease in front of the camera.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “I’m comfortable talking like this, but if the guy on the other end is, like, a date? I can’t do it, James. It messes up my concentration.”
Kasey explained that she felt so hyperaware of how she looked on camera that she couldn’t focus on a date. She got too distracted watching herself.
As more and more singles experiment with video dates, they come up against the same issues as Kasey.
Everyone feels self-conscious on a date. But when you’re meeting up in person, at least you can’t see yourself. It’s not like there’s a huge mirror behind him, reflecting your every move.
But on a video call, you can see your every move. You can find yourself performing for the camera rather than engaging with the real person on the other end of the screen.
With so much mental space devoted to self-monitoring, or paying attention to what you look like, you don’t have as much bandwidth available for the conversation.
One tip I passed onto Kasey could help.
On many video call platforms, including Zoom, you can right-click your video and choose “Hide Myself” from the menu.
That way, you won’t get distracted by watching yourself on screen, and it may help you feel more present and engaged.
Problem #2. Social Media Preconceptions
Kasey was the first to admit that her social media profiles portrayed her in a very specific way.
She couldn’t count the number of pictures she’d take before she finally got a selfie worthy of posting.
“That’s why I freak out when it comes to meeting up,” she said. “Because I can’t control what he’s gonna see. What if he thinks I’m not at all like my Instagram? What if I can’t think up something flirty to say, and he’s like, ‘But she was all flirty when we were messaging?’”
I could see Kasey’s distress.
People who grew up with smartphones and text messaging often feel more comfortable with digital communication than in-person communication.
As long as they’re communicating over a device, they can deliberate over the right message to send. They can invite input from their friends.
But live conversation puts them on the spot. They have to drop the pose and be themselves. That makes them feel vulnerable.
Let me ask you:
Do you think you’d impress a potential date better if his first impression of you was:
- Seeing you in person, or
- Seeing your social media profile?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
Ultimately, you want a man to fall for you, not the person you present yourself as online.
That’s why I recommend meeting (in person or via a video call) as soon as you can. If you can avoid it, don’t share your social media with him until after you’ve already met and liked him.
Problem #3. Is It Even Real?
Sometimes Kasey thought online dating was like playing a video game. It didn’t feel real.
Yes, she was meeting guys. Yes, she was going on video dates.
But were these connections even real?
After all, the only thing she knew about these guys was what their dating/social media profiles told her. It wasn’t like they were going on real dates. These guys could be lying to her.
Was it even worth it? Maybe she should just go back to meeting guys the old-fashioned way.
I could understand Kasey’s point.
There is something completely artificial about dating online.
But for some people, it’s the only option they have.
They can’t meet other singles in their everyday life. There’s nowhere to go to socialize.
Isn’t it worth it to try and create connections with whatever means you have, even if the way forward isn’t clear?
Dating has always shifted and evolved with each passing decade. Technology has sped up the rate of change, but the desire for love remains the same.
What issues are you personally struggling with? Let me know, so I can address them in future articles.