Musings on Meeting People and the March of Technology

Like peacocks, or any animal really, we use our attributes to attract mates or at least like-minded prospective friends: “We like the same sort of sports team, I bet he’s a good fella.,” or  “She reads Gogol, she’s the one for me!” We differ from the animal kingdom in that we have a great number of attributes at our disposal that we can simply purchase or make and change them at will.

It’s really interesting to chart our evolution. We started off like any animal, we displayed our bodily traits and we stayed with types we liked. Then we gained capability and our clothing or tools told our story and perhaps enhanced our form. Recently, we let our love of certain brands define us. Now it seems we are on a trajectory to change again. This time we will base all of this on what our mobile devices divine for us.

This article on Gawker about how the Kindle ruins your dating game does a good job of bringing the point home. The shift to operating more in the technology world than the tangible world has begun.

The Kindle is helping in a small way, sure it gives us the capability to carry any book we ever wanted, but it also takes away from the tangible world a visual definition of ourselves and an invitation to interaction. It wasn’t the first item though, we saw this happen with music players. We used to have CD and tape players with physical media that people could see and make a connection from. This was swallowed by MP3 players. If I had an MP3 player 15 years ago, a State Trooper in Virginia wouldn’t have let me go after searching my car – just because he liked my music. And remember when we would get to know people through looking at their CD collection? It’s creepy to think of looking through someone’s media player.

Soon, we will search for people of like mind solely through our media devices with cleaver apps like OKCupid’s that alerts you when matches are nearby. We will gaze at our phones like people holding metal detectors waiting for the pulse that says someone special is nearby.

Perhaps the physical tolerances of GPS location awareness will keep some of the serendipity alive. Imagine someone seeing on their phone that a good match is nearby and due to the fuzziness of location, they meet someone totally different and it works out. That will be the next generation’s ‘How I met your mother’ story.

In the near future there will be stories of ships passing in the night. Sad, lonely stories about great romances or friendships that never were: they were standing right next to each other, but alas, they were on different networks…

Conversely, the next generation of ‘Players’ will have an entirely different skill set than the ones now. Not having to rely so much on finely tuned interpersonal interactions, since that will be supplanted by our trust in our app’s matching skills,  they’ll have learned to game the system by honing profiles in just the right way.

But for now, we will suffer through the uncomfortable near future of trying to puzzle out how to initiate interaction when we can’t just cleverly read the name of someone’s book or place faith in our phone’s love-seeking capabilities.

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