• By Taylor Lovetale

The 'hearts-collectors': digital male hyper-egos and online dating

Dear Taylor,

I am writing to speak up my anger and frustration in this particular moment of my life. Forty-something, good job, supportive family and relevant friends: I have always thought of my self as a very luck girl, except for the only one thing... Love. It is not that I am desperate to find a boyfriend; I never was and never will be. Probably this is because there has always been a lot on my plate. I do enjoy keeping myself busy and cultivate interests aside work: travels, hobbies, sports, writing etc.

Despite the tangible lack of time, I recently registered to a couple of catchy online dating applications; just to try. I can't remember the last time I was with someone for more than two weeks! Some friends warned me that this is a rocky road to relationships, but, at the same time, I have a couple of successful examples among people that I know. In any case, my personal opinion had always been that there was not a huge difference between meeting guys at a bar or through an App. At the end of the day, it is the same people, and the same exact human interactions are just applied to a different setting, a virtual one. Probably I was wrong though... Recently, a weird feeling is growing in me about something very dark and dehumanising associated with dating Apps and social media in general and I believe that this phenomenon is escalating at light speed, or better, at internet speed. Do you have this feeling too?

The climax of my negative experience was just a week ago: there was this guy which I met online and I saw for a couple of dates. He seemed nice but I was not too convinced about him from the beginning. Maybe because he was too short? Or maybe because his laughter was too high-pitched? Or, was it due to his constant agreeing to everything that I was saying? I cannot really tell. Sometimes are the little details which drive feelings about people, I guess it's normal. Regardless, I forced myself to give him the last chance and meet him for a couple of drinks at a bar. Long story short, I accepted his invitation on the spot but when I joined him at the place the same night, he was unexpectedly surrounded by a big and loud group of friends.... Seriously?! Was that his idea for our third date? At that point I was already fuming but with all my inner strength, I decided to push myself into living that moment and enjoying whatever positive could have come out. Immediately after I decide to put on my best charming smile, I noticed a very stiff atmosphere lingering around and on everybody's faces. There was one Brazilian girl in particular which was staring at me like I slaughtered her entire family. Suddenly she hurried away grabbing my date's hand with a snappy gesture and mumbling stuff in his hears that I couldn't overhear but clearly indicated some intimacy. One moment after that, they were kissing... Just in front of my eyes. Do I have to continue? If anything, I have some dignity and I would never give it away for a random guy whose idea of a date is gathering women to constitute his ego-boosting personal "harem". Ten seconds later, I pretended to go out to get a phone call and - yes! - my life-saving Uber was already waiting for me before the "chariot" itself was going to turn into a pumpkin again and before my make-up looked like a bitten panda face from the first, heavy tears. Pretty shitty Cinderella story, right? What is your take on the whole thing Taylor? Did I overreact? Is this really the new face of dating which I have to get accustomed to? Please help!




Dear Bianca,

I am really sad to hear your misadventures!

In regards of your first question about human interactions in the digital era: I can only agree with you. Social media and internet are affecting, or even redefining, society in several ways. The first way, which you clearly pointed out, is the increasing of speed of the interaction: more connections are established more quickly, but, on the other hand, they are destined to die out more easily. This is due to another factor which is the bigger range of options and information that we can access at every moment and that compel us, both emotionally and rationally, to have a lower retention and awareness: in other words, we become more distracted and superficial. The people we encounter virtually are often wrongly considered just as "digital projections" and not actual humans! For this reason, one feels entitled to treat others with no respect or even, take out on them all the anger and frustration that they may experience in the real world. To conclude, it is undeniable that digital technology had offered us a great tool to expand our knowledge and to express our creativity, but, as always, the excessive exposure to it (and I am talking about millennials in particular) can lead to an incapacity to differentiate the physical world from the virtual one. The latter becomes like an extension to our "main life"; a safe place where we can generate secret identities and release our repressed instincts and deepest desires without feeling affected by social judgement. Therefore, dear Bianca, I believe that your guy-"friend" met online is only one of the many "heart-collectors" out there: one woman for every occasion or, worse, one woman for each of their digital alter-egos. Sometimes the women's turnover is so high that messy cross-overs can happen, exactly the way you experienced it at the bar.

Having said that, what really interests me now is to challenge you with a final question. You described yourself as a very active woman with tons of interests and passions. Have you ever thought that online dating is not really something for you and that would be easier just to surrender to the idea that, eventually, you will meet someone by just living one of your adventures, or through your job and your numerous hobbies? Sharing interests is a very powerful way to connect to other human beings. Our family, and society in general, sometimes, pressure us to think and act according to specific patterns but these are not always the right ones for us. Find your own way, my friend, and set your own rules. Reach out to the stars and beyond, but don't allow anyone to name that constellation for you. In fact, there is only one name for it, and that name is Bianca.

The best of luck dearest, I really hope my words offered you some help and comfort.



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