Cutting Out the Digital Middleman

Facebook and Twitter come into their own in the digital dating world.

Facebook’s where I post links to music videos and songs that I’m rocking out to as of late. It’s where I jot down observations or overheard conversations and direct friends to an article that I find interesting or that I’ve written. It’s where I see pictures of the babies of pals that haven’t directly been in my life since college, yet it brings me comfort to know that they’re happy and bearing children or climbing that corporate ladder, as the case may be.

Twitter’s where I follow topics that make me smile. Some person that I’ve never met in real life, yet who is an authority on digital engagement or travel in South America can share their thoughts and their work, and I can see it even though we’re not acquainted. I can post photos of slides that strike a chord during a Powerpoint at a conference. Then I hashtag it, and the observation gains a life of its own.

But are both platforms also rich sources of matchmaking?

A Washington Post story this earlier this summer sure thinks so. Michael Rosenwald writes about all of the couples striking up relationships digitally. Rather than connecting over OkCupid, matching on Match.com or using sexual innuendos as currency on Tinder, though, their digital playgrounds are social networks usually reserved for other matters like keeping in touch with full-fledged friends.

If this is the case, it’s a different thing altogether—and maybe even a phenomenon at that.

Facebook, mind you, has played a role in online dating in the sense that dating apps like Hinge and Tinder ask you to sign up through your Facebook account. Then as you’re viewing pictures of nearby singles the app lets you know that you do have Facebook friends in common and who they are. The notion is that it feels a bit friendlier, like a buddy is setting you up, as opposed to a computer. They’re not strangers persee, since you know others in common and they probably won’t murder you.

The Post story would suggest a bit of a cutting out of the middle man, with the middle man, of course being the dating application.

A recent study quoted in the article found that nearly 21 percent of people who discovered their spouses online and then married between 2005 and 2012 met through a social networking site. This is as opposed to a site or app that was specifically delineated as being for love-seeking.

How does this work?

In the case of Facebook, the matchups described go a little something like this: The man and woman know people in common, start to see each others’ comments in mutual friends’ updates, like the sense of humor or tone and then reach out to each other in the manner that they would at a happy hour where they both were present.

Twitter’s love matchmaking is more tied to interest, it sounds like. There’s an example of two people who both work in a digital content strategy capacity, tweeting for work. They follow each other because of a shared fascination around political campaigns, begin tweeting each other to an extent that the tweets becoming flirtier. At some point an in-person meeting takes place and love blooms.

Personally I’ve never struck up a romance in either of these scenarios, but I could see how it happens. How about you?

In my mind, there are a few pluses and minuses:

Main Advantage: The thing about dating apps is that people lie, sometimes in small ways (think of a 10-year-old or 30-pounds-ago-photo) or sometimes about their entire identity (instead of being a 40-year-old dude, they’re a teenage girl). People also are putting out a certain dating self made for a dating hub. This isn’t so much the case on a social network. It’s more of the whole person and less sanitizes to snag a date. It could be a more refreshing profile to begin with as a foundation.

Main Disadvantage: You’d better be ready to flirt in a more public content than just chatting on an app. By their natures, Facebook and Twitter are open networks. You can choose who to follow and friend yet, to an extent, the world is watching.

According to Jeff Hall, a University of Kansas expert on flirting (who knew such a thing existed), the trend of social networks as matchmakers is only going to go up. So get ready for more social network-originated pairings. Not only will the wedding be shown on social media, the path leading up to it will all be carried out there.

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