How Technology Can Mess With Your Love Life

In October of 2016, the love story between Indonesian businessman Pablo Putera Benua and popular TV host and comedian Rey Utami took the internet by storm.

One day, Benua was fiddling with his smartphone, browsing the popular dating site Tinder, when suddenly, he was matched with Utami. They decided to meet up on the same day. What followed afterwards was a breakneck-speed relationship, with Benua buying her a Honda HRV and a luxury watch worth almost US$430,000. Exactly one week after their first date, they tied the knot.

Local netizens quickly accused the TV presenter of being a “gold digger”, while others simply marvelled at the power of technology, which brought two people in only a week’s time to the altar.

While this case seems like a success, some believe technology can actually make it more difficult for you to find true love. In fact, in some cases, it can even mess with your life in general.

Here are a few of the most frustrating ways technology can backfire, as you hunt for the one:

Tech Makes It Hard for People to Create Real Connections in the Real World

It is true that connecting with a possible kindred spirit online is getting easier and easier. But critics will argue that technology can make it difficult for people to create meaningful connections in the real world. You can connect with your loved ones – or your crush – by writing on their Facebook wall, mentioning them on Twitter or chatting with them via instant message apps. But at the same time, your in-person relationships can take a toll.

Psychologist Anna Surti Ariani, who is also a relationship expert, says that people today seem to favour online communication over in-person conversations. This habit has eroded our capacity to engage people in real life, where we can catch the nuances of human emotion.

“Sometimes people are unable to convey what they’re thinking or feeling because they don’t usually engage in in-person conversations,” Ariani told Indonesia Expat, adding that in some extreme cases, people can understand emoticons more than they understand real emotions. The convenience that technology brings also makes us lazy to go out and interact with others, says the psychologist.

“Technology can be alienating. Instead of going out to the bank, people prefer to use e-banking. It’s one of the ways to decrease direct communication,” explained Ariani.

Technology Can Skew Perceptions 

What is overwhelmingly clear is that people these days prefer texting over speaking directly on the phone. The habit of texting has made it easier for people to express themselves through things like emojis and gifs. As people text more and talk less, their interpersonal skills also take a hit. So when they have to actually talk to someone, like when they are on a date, they struggle to keep their dates interested.

Nariswari Dita Yudianti, a 27-year old corporate employee, for example, has had her share of bad dates where things did not go as she expected. “In my case, when I chatted with this guy I knew from Tinder, the conversation was flowing and engaging. But once I met the guy in person, he was not cool at all. So chatting can be deceiving,” she told Indonesia Expat.

People also often hide behind an idealized online persona that is more attractive, smart and accomplished than they actually are. Yudianti says she prefers to meet someone in person first, so as to determine whether the other person is actually interesting or not. 

People Are Now Judged by Their Social Media Profiles

Before the emergence of social media and the internet, it might have taken some time for people to finally get to know each other – from their hobbies, the countries they have travelled to, their favourite books and the kind of movies and music they are into. Now, all of this information can easily be obtained by a single click on Facebook.

Ironically, not everything that you post on social media can work effectively to attract your dates. Yudianti recounted the moment she lost interest in a guy after seeing the dozens of pictures he posted on Instagram in just one day. She admitted to being repelled by the guy’s obsession with documenting every moment of his life, including one where he picked a parking ticket. “The more I followed his Instagram stories, the more I found him to be weird. You don’t have to post everything on Instagram. You have a life,” she said.

Technology Can Become a Distraction

For some, technology has become more than just a mere gadget in their pocket, but in fact, their best friend. In the past, people only looked at their mobile phones or tablets when they got bored or stuck in traffic. A lot has changed over the past decade, and many would rather be engaged in an intimate relationship with their gadgets over another human being. This even applies when you are supposed to be spending time with your partner.

“I meet a lot of couples who have trouble communicating because one or both of them are obsessed with their smartphones,” Ariani said. According to her this explains why it might not be the best idea to have your eyes glued to your smartphone when you can have real conversation with your loved one sitting right in front of you. This kind of distraction not only takes people away from their partners, but also traps them in their own world to some extent. She says:

“Social media triggers you to flaunt yourself and be narcissistic. Sometimes social media can be better in distracting your lovers than a third party because you have to compete with millions of people on social media. You just forget that there’s someone closer to you.”

A Hot Bed for Scammers and Fake Profiles

People usually want to look their best on social media. It might even take them hours to pick the right profile picture for their online dating account just to make sure they make a good first impression. But sometimes, this can result in cases where your date doesn’t turn out to be the way you expected them to be. Certain angles and lots of makeup are usually the perfect strategy.

But one of the most bizarre tricks is using someone else’s photo altogether. Nariswari was going through her Tinder profile when she suddenly came across a picture of her best friend’s husband. She immediately realized that the photo was misused by a scammer.

It is important for everyone to be aware of the possibility that they are communicating with someone who has been disingenuous about their age, appearance or marital status. Not to mention the fact that you might even encounter a predator who is up to no good.

“One time, I was worried that this fake profile was used for a sex crime or something,” said Yudianti.

While technology does have pitfalls when it comes to seeking love, that doesn’t mean that it is not useful. For those who are lucky like Benua and Utami, dating sites can help you get to know someone whom you otherwise wouldn’t have met, let alone marry.

Technology can also shorten the distance between two people. “I used to do a lot of Skype dating, and it wasn’t awkward for me. For someone who was in a long-distance relationship for 12 years, Skype helped a lot,” Yudianti said.

Featured Image by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

 

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Heru Nainggolan is a Jakarta-based freelance writer and journalist that's been covering a variety of issues since 2011.