Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Online Dating and Activation Energy
With dating, the activation energy is dictated by the factors making it difficult for you to agree to a date. In my case, these would be (a) the scarcity of time available, (b) the fact that I'm not in NY and most of the suggestions that I receive are, (c) and of course the fact that I'm deeply shallow and quite picky. So for me, my activation energy is already quite high.
As many of you know, Frumster.com recently rebranded to JWed.com and offered free one-month memberships to many of the bloggers as an incentive to write about it. I was curious about online dating and took advantage of the offer. I quickly discovered that with online dating, the activation energy is even higher than usual. The added factors are that, when random shadchanim are involved, the person suggesting the matches doesn't know me, and I don't know or trust them, and they in most cases don't know the young lady. When shadchanim aren't involved, there is the little information available from a profile and the lack of third-party input to suggest that the person is worth meeting. In either case, there is typically no attempt made at "selling" the suggestion, which in my mind is the factor that raises the activation energy the most. There is also, whether it's fair or not, a certain stigma attached to online dating, which I found overshadowed many of the suggestions, but that's not the point of this piece.
Not to take the analogy too far, but in chemistry, a catalyst can effectively lower the activation energy, or the size of the hill, so that it takes less energy to initiate the reaction. In dating this could be an offer to meet halfway, a detail in the profile that speaks to you, an enthusiastic sales pitch from someone you trust, or an attractive picture. However, in the case of online dating I found that my "energy of activation" was set so high that it was extremely rare that any of the suggestions seemed worthwhile. This may reflect a flaw in me, but I rapidly realized that while online dating solves many problems and is certainly worthy of exploration, for me it simply sets the activation energy bar too high and resulted in me turning down girls whom under different circumstances I'd perhaps be interested in meeting. Can any of you relate?