The subtitle of my new book is Media Representations of Online Connections.Much of my research examines the interplay between pop culture portrayals and real life. 2016 and years and years into dating online and hook up apps, and stigma endures. On this occasion however, his creative concoctions were completely unnecessary. “That way, if we get together, we can honestly tell people we met at Myer.” 2016 and the story still makes my brow furrow.For our sins, however, in 2016 we’re geeks and nerds, and we’re each doing the bulk of our intimacy-ing online. It’s just another tool, another way to fulfil the human drive of connecting.The same rules, the same pitfalls and the same chances of calamity and heartbreak apply.2016, and having written a couple of hundred thousand words on this topic, and each time I hear a new version of right and wrong ways to do love I’m convinced that we’ll forever remain a little prejudiced.My newest book, Intimacy on the Internet, examines how online technologies have overhauled how we experience love and sex and friendship.
“I haven’t been looking for a serious relationship in my early 20s.I don’t have a monkey-see, monkey-do view, nonetheless, film and TV certainly have a role in helping to shape our thinking about social behaviours.At the most sensationalist end of the spectrum, media provides lessons on danger.When it all turns to dust you’ll need to keep seeing them. While bars still exist to let loose your inner Neil Strauss, and allegedly people still speed-date, going online provides an administrative solution for the time-poor, for the shy, for the multitaskers who want to swipe through possibilities while binge-watching Netflix.It isn’t any more than this – no more revealing about your social skills, no more telling about your worth or attractiveness – and yet it remains behaviour laden with negative connotations.While films offer up a steady supply of cyberspace predators grooming young ’uns for abuse, the news media also zealously probe the ‘Internet angle’. And yet, no one is doing police checks on the folks we encounter in public space.Be it in the reporting of a rape, a murder, or a terrorist attack, search histories and dating site clicks will be voraciously examined. To conceive of a nightclub or a bookstore as somehow a safer place to meet a partner is foolhardy. When asked about their attitudes to dating online, research participants often mention the lack of romance.In 2016, dating apps are old news, just an increasingly normal way to look for love and sex. Of course, results can vary depending on what it is people want—to hook up or have casual sex, to date casually, or to date as a way of actively looking for a relationship.The question is not if they work, because they obviously can, but how well do they work? “I have had lots of luck hooking up, so if that’s the criteria I would say it’s certainly served its purpose,” says Brian, a 44-year-old gay man who works in fashion retail in New York City.Stereotyping and fear-mongering make for a good frame in a news story, for useful hooks in a film.These ideas continue to have resonance, not because they’re true, but because we remain a little bit technophobic and a tad too enamoured by the rom-com.