Sociology and dating
In the case of Ok Cupid, we are expected to present our best, most desirable self on the “front stage” of our profile.“Doing Gender” by Candace West and Don Zimmerman describes the process of, well, doing gender, referencing Goffman in its definition of gender as “a routine, methodological and recurring accomplishment” and an “emergent factor of social situations”(126):“Gender, in contrast [to sex], is the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category.
Gender activities emerge from and bolster claims to membership in a sex category.” (127)—you can find people all along every spectrum, from heterosexual to homosexual, monogamous to polygamous, virginal to kinky, and everywhere in between—yet for some reason, at least in my experience as a heterosexual woman, it seems to reinforce and even amplify gender in dating.
The classical sociologist Erving Goffman is often affiliated with the same symbolic interactionist school as Mead, although others would argue he’s a bit difficult to sort.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any of his books immediately on hand, and I want to get this written while it’s all fresh in my mind, but one of his major theories is a dramaturgical approach that breaks social life down into a front stage and back stage.
Therefore, you have good reason to be a bit suspicious of how any person is presenting him or herself to you and you alone, in a completely one-on-one interaction.
It’s extremely likely, if not certain, that that person is catering how they act to what they think you would like, especially on a date, where both parties have a certain end goal in mind.
Bourdieu highlights this in relation to the bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie, as well as between the petit bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
After a summer of a lot of online chatting and one or two in-person meet-ups, I took a hiatus for a few years, rejoining the site the summer after college.
This time, I found myself going on a lot more but still, nothing stuck.
In this post, too, my goal is to offer a few different jumping-off points for thinking and conversing, rather than to commit to any one particular argument.
I started using Ok Cupid during my sophomore year at Tufts, back in 2008, out of frustration with the insular nature of the campus.