Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Race & Politics

The Digital Dating Era Isn’t All Bad


(The Champ’s latest at Ebony explains why some of the hang-wringing over “the death of courtship” may be overblown.)

Now, I’m not here today to necessarily dispute the findings and first-hand accounts found in each of the recent articles decrying the death of “courtship” and “traditional dating.” Dating in the digital age does have some discernible downsides. Along with the points listed in the articles, “People feel entitled to know your business,” says 29-year-old scientist Marguerite Matthews, adding, “As if an affiliation on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr gives them the right to inquire about the many details of your personal life.”

Also, according to 26-year-old grad student Racquel Jamison, the bevy of “options” provided by social networking does actually have the power to make things more cutthroat. “This makes dating more competitive, budding relationships less concrete, and the whole experience less fun.”

While I’m a bit past the murky waters of the low expectation/hook-up/Wendy’s value meal on a champagne budget/”let’s chill sometime and watch The Best Man” abyss, I’m not so far removed from it that I don’t remember it. At the same time, though, I don’t know if I can completely get behind the idea that this low-expectation digital-age dating paradigm shift is both ubiquitous and a male-driven process.

And, perhaps the “death of courtship” isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Do I get to “first” on this post?

    One of benefits of being born in the 1960’s is that I’ve seen the “End of Courtship” stories multiple times over the years. The “end” spoken about so often only means that things have changed in some way, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.
    In my grandparents day the young man would have to write a letter of intent to the woman’s parents, asking if he could court her. YES NINJAS!
    My grandmother actually made my uncle’s wife do an ‘internship’ of sorts. She had to prove that she could cook, sew and set a table properly.
    Isn’t everyone happy to see the ‘end’ of that kind of courtship?

    • Furious Styles

      “Isn’t everyone happy to see the ‘end’ of that kind of courtship?”

      Yeah. Agree. Supposedly the printing press, the telegram, the telephone, the typewriter, all destroyed “courtship” and human interaction. There’s always this adjustment period in people’s interaction that comes about when a new device is introduced that once scared folks becomes something they can’t do without. If traditional dating is “dead”, it will rise again on the third day.

      And the assumptions behind “traditional” dating (and “dating” as we know it only showed up as a 20th century thing) were borne of a time when women had no agency or access to society in general unless it was through a man. Good ol’ advice from grandma like “a man should love a woman more than she loves him” was true when marriage was literally a woman’s profession and a decision that short of being life and death, was the deciding factor in a woman’s quality of life.

      Also, complaining about “technology and lazy men” doesn’t inform women about what to do about it…if it’s a problem for them. Those articles are just more moral panic.

  • ‘L’

    Albeit I didn’t read the articles, nor do I wish 2. Technology is more 2 blame than men. Both genders r finding it easier 2 sit w/their device of choice & surf the net. But who n their right mind is going 2 divulge personal info 2 someone u have never laid eyes on r can’t id n a lineup. It just doesn’t make sense. Although 4 some it has worked out, I suspect the ratio of frogs 2 princes kissed rises exponentially however using this means of dating.

  • Never

    Oh agreed, it absolutely is not “all bad”, and obviously I’m speaking from personal experience. For those who remember Black Planet, we had a chat room strictly for debates – and it morphed into one of the more popular chat rooms during Black Planet’s infancy (The Intel Smack Down). Of course…online familiarity (and, well, a posting of a picture or two) led to offline interests, and so it began.

    I can say that I’ve personally never cruised online sites specifically TO date, but I’ve met tons of people on various sites – and I’ve dated several. Have not had any nightmares, headaches, or stalker types. I did have a relatively strange habit of attracting, if you will, women sans father figures (which manifested itself…ah, never mind) that followed me from offline to online. It must have been the font.

    It’s funny to see that the stigma has been, for the most part, removed though. Thirteen years ago, the concept of meeting someone “online” *primarily* generated images of encountering Machisma the Hungarian WWF stunt double at the door as opposed to Anya who was allegedly from Los Angeles. Now…Instagram, Facebook, MySpace, Skype, Facetime has largely eliminated that particular online dating faux pas.

    Unless your name is Manti Te’o.

  • Devyn Swain

    Social networks definitely have replaced traditional dating for the most part; however, I believe that it can help bridge the barriers of time constraints and prior commitments all in the name of building love.

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