Dating on a Live Feed

Can we video conference our way into love? Can live conversations with a stranger via a video camera be romantic and result in successful wooing?

Video is a powerful medium. It’s a way to record memories. Clips can provide inspiration or create an experience that allows the viewer to see and hear.

The advent of Skype and Google Hangouts and the fact that camera phones no longer suck have elevated video to a whole other level too. We can video conference in a way that was seen as a futuristic Jetsons-esque progression far into the future.

But can we video conference our way into love? Can live conversations with a stranger via a video camera be romantic and result in successful wooing?

USA Today reported that the biggest trend to come to digital dating is video. A slew of companies, particularly in the startup world, say that adding live video chats to dating apps “gets right to the chemistry of an in-person interaction.” Instead of having singles passively look at a menu of images, they can interact. Here are just some that are enabling real-time video chatting between potential suitors:

Flikdate bills itself as the fastest date in the world. The chats are limited to a minute and a half. Then the two chatters decide whether to go on a longer virtual date which might require some fliks (aka a small monetary charge)

Video Date is similar but it differentiates itself as being a completely free app.

Date.fm emphasizes its easy sign-up, that app participants are verifiable and that daters can advance from viewing profiles to text chatting to video chatting in a hurry.

Instamour, like the others, facilitates video chats. It also allows users to glimpse and showcase video profiles of themselves before launching into live video interaction — and maybe action.

View N Me has yet to launch. When it does, though, it will also include video speed dating sessions along with more individualized video meet and greets.

My gut reaction on this phenomenon is, well, mixed.

The advantage is that it’s trying to solve some of the more grating problems of dating sites like Match and OKCupid. First among these problems is the endless back-and-forth of emails without knowing who really is typing the witty retorts. Video chatting, just like meeting as quickly as possible offline after viewing a desirable online profile, is cutting to the chase. With a video conversation, in particular, there’s nowhere to hide. If a friend’s been the real force behind a man’s messages, it’s tougher for them to get coaching during a live video session. Tougher, not impossible, I suppose.

But then, to me, there is no substitute for in-person meeting. Compared to an actual date, an off-the-cuff talk into a Web camera is a distant second. It’s better than an email or a text, as there’s a face to look into, an expression to read and an opportunity to hear someone’s voice, laugh and watch his or her mannerisms. Just not quite the real thing. A few of these apps remind me of Chatroulette, the sensation that enables users to speak to whichever random soul appears on the screen. In that sense, live video-focused apps are the speed dating events of the digital world.

I’ll have to give them a whirl and see for myself. Got experiences with video dating? I’m interested in your take.

-Dena

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