The Online Love Search: A self assessment

On: April 20, 2011
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About ibtisam omer
Hi and hello I am twenty three years old and for the past four years I have studied sociology and media studies in three different places: Stockholm, UK and Hong Kong. I graduated at the University of Essex in July and after that spent a few weeks interning at Global Grind in NY. Now I am here at the UvA and Im just about exploring the fundamentals of my degree, so far so nice. Other than this I was born and raised in Stockholm Sweden , to Eritrean parents. Stockholm being an immensly integrated city, I grew up enjoying a diverse cultral atmosphere. I travel a lot , I eat even more and I love social netwoking platforms; its beauty lays in the opportunity it gives people to exploit a public space introducing individual self projections. ibtisam


eDarling -The new way of meeting a partner, that really suits you

On their frontpage, suggestively guarantees its visitors a suitable match.  So how does an online dating site such as eDarling set out to get to know you, in order to match you with another individual, which really suits you? Simple, they ask you 279 questions right after you sign up. The questions posed fall into various categories that approaches the individuals’ perceptions of themselves, as well as their perspective on social and moral values, asking questions about yourself but then also asking you the same question regarding the expectations of your potential partner.  Do you follow any religious faith? What ethnic background are you? This followed by an extensive series of questions beginning with: Are you. Are you warmhearted? Smart?  Dominant? Ambitious? Extrovert? Romantic? Well trained? and so on for about another 268 questions. These questions are produced by the likes of social psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists and other experts assessing your characteristics and preferences. A process seemingly rather rational and simple, you answer a set of questions and get matched  with someone based on those answers.  Understanding the question is the initial step, but then there is the realization of the significance of your answers, it quickly becomes one of the most important questionnaires ever encountered. I took the task very seriously and saw each answer as a potential fail or success with my dating opportunities.

My immediate thought before starting the life-quiz process, was how many questions are there? The site doesn’t share beforehand how many questions you are about to answer (279 can be intimidating), but instead give you an estimated duration of time that it should take for you to produce the answers..30min.  Ok, that’s fair enough , surely it shouldn’t take anything less if one is to properly disclose their life antics and personal preferences. Although it didn’t take me a mere 30 minutes, it took me an hour and 30min. Before we assume anything else, no I am not a slow reader and no I was not busy filling in long paragraphs discussing meaningless events of my life, the questions were  very straightforward and could  generally only  be answered by ticking in the suitable boxes.It took me such a long time because there are so many alternatives to answering one single question. You are faced with multiple personal questions (279 of them) and begin by answering honestly with little hesitation, but as you go along one begins to reconsider each answer. You get lost somewhere in between the person who you know you are, and the individual you would like to be perceived as.

Online daters often regret telling the truth, feeling that too much honesty creates a bad impression (Epstein, 2007)

It becomes a natural process of self-assessment, as you are answering questions based on scales ranging between not at all to very good and unimportant to very important. Unaware of what specific preferences my potential partner might have, I want to make sure I come across as attractive and interesting, but also not  too confident, so I don’t seem fake. As much as I struggled to depict a balanced version between what I am, and what I think is desirable, I kept finding myself answering many of the questions following one extreme. I might be average but I don’t want to attract average men,  I am on this site seeking a partner based on my specific preferences so I am under the impression here that I should be able to avoid settling for anything less. Either way ,as individuals we are commonly to some extent producing exaggerated depictions of ourselves, it is natural and in most sad cases necessary. like many other online dating services and social networking sites provides its members with the means to carry out these exaggerations even further.  We are driven by our expectations which are constantly under the influence from others and when dating online you are simply provided with more alternatives at self-representations.

In next week’s blog post I will be discussing the textual elements of eDarling and how they manage to attract their potential members.

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