Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Creating, Versus Consuming, Love on the Internet Dating Market

I am working through the new book of that fine sociologist, Arlie Hochschild. In The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times she looks at the many ways we have turned to the market for aspects of personal life that we used to rely on "the village" for.

In the chapter on internet dating that opens the book, she makes this helpful observation: internet dating clients had such trouble finding a mate because "they were preparing to be consumers, not creators, of love."

One fruitful insight of our "Happy Society" class is that the simple act of performing acts of kindness for others makes one feel happier.  And we notice that our friends, seeing our example, are more likely to do the same.

I find that students have another, even more unexpected insight.  They have clear feelings about whether society is happy and kind, or unhappy and cold.  But until doing this class exercise, they had just never thought about themselves as the creators of the moral tone of society.

Creating love, like creating kindness, is hard and risky.  But it is also empowering.  And, of course, good.


Optimist said...

Ouch. So those who are unsucessful at finding a partner in life are responsible for that failure because they didn't work hard enough to create the love they wanted.... or worse those who find themselves in unhealthy relationships are to blame for not nurturing the relationship and molding their partner into being better human beings.

I don't 100% disagree with your insights, but without a little consideration to how complicated it is to make change in a one on one level this sounds harsh.

It's a lot easier to find a nice thing to do for someone you come accross during your day and thereby spread happiness in society than it is to find someone open to a real love connection, then to form and nurture that connection. And that presupposes that neither individual has or develops abusive tendencies.

Diane M said...

I don't think that's it at all. I think people turn to internet dating for the simple reason that they don't live in a community where it's easy to meet single people interested in a relationship (as opposed to sex, it may not be too hard to find some of those).

College and grad school are great places for finding mates because they bring together young single people and mix them frequently in social situations.

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