I have been at this dating thing for quite a while now.
When I took my first dip into online dating, it was still very new and even considered taboo. I wouldn’t call myself a pioneer, but when I started, flip phones were still popular and I had never even heard of the word ‘app’.
And Snapchat had not been invented.
We didn’t even really text much back then. We emailed then talked on the phone and then we met. It was a fairly simple process.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Dating has always been challenging. It’s never easy to find just the right spark and match and someone with the same set of quirks, or accepting of others. But back then, getting from point A (a profile) to point B (an actual live in-person date) was straight forward.
That is not the case anymore.
I could blame my age. I could blame the MeToo movement. I could blame my shrinking patience and expanding waistline.
But I blame Snapchat.
Snapchat was the brainchild of some restless guys from Stanford University in 2011.
The idea behind the app was to create a platform that took communication to the next level. Instead of just being able to send messages through text, they wanted an option to use images and photos to convey sentiments and information.
(Did you know the original name was Picaboo?)
In theory, it sounded almost sweet and endearing. To develop a connection and closer bond than just words alone. After all, that one picture could be worth a thousand words.
Unless, of course, that picture disappears.
What made their app so unique was the fact that whatever was sent had a very limited life span. The messages disappear within moments of being opened. So what is so endearing about that?
I will try to reserve judgment against these fellows that I know nothing about it. Their intentions MAY have been legit, but as with many good things, it only takes a few to distort and twist until the original objective is unrecognizable.
And here is where my beef with Snapchat begins: That very first time some guy or gal dared, begged or encouraged someone to send a racy photo. And the rest is history.
I am not sure if we have lost our modesty and self-reserve in recent years, or if the only thing holding us back was fear of discovery. Either way, the invention of the disappearing photo opened up a whole new world of ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’.
And I’m not even going to blame the guys completely here. It takes two to tango. I believe there are just as many gals (or close) that want to get in the game. And that’s really the root of the issue, in my humble opinion.
In the last 9 years, there has been a surge in apps designed to create a secret life. A big part of that is probably for those intent on cheating. But for others, it is a way to create a false sense of intimacy and sensuality.
For every girl who sends a racy or naked photo seeking attention, she is growing the expectation that more girls will do the same thing. For every girl who encourages a racy or naked photo to be sent to her, the perception increases that is acceptable behavior.
For every guy who sends unsolicited photos, there are women everywhere saying why? Don't! Stop!
Now I know I sound like a prude. Old-fashioned. Fuddy-duddy. And honestly, I’m not. I have no real issue with how two consenting adults choose to conduct their love life.
Here is my issue. Snapchat made it easier (not necessarily safer) to send racy pics and so, therefore, it became more common (aka acceptable). More common means more people ask and expect it early on in the dating process, often even before meeting.
This entire shift in the dating hierarchy and traditional timetable has had a ripple effect. While the majority of Snapchat users are teenagers, the ramifications reach further down the generational lines.
I do not mean to imply that everyone is doing it. I know that is simply not the case. However, I am convinced that enough are to have altered the way dating (the online variety at least) is conducted. I hear story after story from those who have been on the receiving end of unsolicited (and generally, unwanted, photos).
So what is the takeaway here? A couple of things. (These are for both genders.)
Don’t give your cellphone number away too quickly. Try to have a better understanding of someone’s intentions before taking that step.
If you get any type of communication you don’t like/want, make it known immediately. It’s your decision to walk away at that point or not, but you should at least set your boundaries.
If you flirt heavily or suggestively, be prepared.
If you do use Snapchat, or other picture-sharing apps, be careful who has access to those accounts. Again, use caution when handing out the information.
If you currently use and are happy with, Snapchat for whatever your consensual recreational activities are, then ignore the previous 700 words.
And one last thing, keep in mind that once the 'sent' button is hit, most things are never absolutely ‘gone’. Just because an image disappears from someone’s phone, tablet or laptop screen does not mean it is completely erased.
I am the first to admit I don’t understand servers and domains and encryptions, but I’ve done enough research to know that disappear doesn’t always mean what you think it means.
My Hopefuls, I genuinely want all of you to have successful and healthy relationships. And only you and your partner can define what that means.
For those of us still single and waiting, set your personal boundaries, make them known, then go forth in this dating world with enthusiasm and delight.
And do your chatting, but go easy on the snapping.
And as always...
Hope With Abandon