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Virtual Dating: The apocalypse of 21st century

I always wanted to meet the love of my life in the ‘filmiest’ way possible.

My dupatta gets stuck on their watch, we see each other in a coffee shop and its love at first site, or the classic DDLJ train scene. Sadly, I was a “aaj jaane ki zid na karo” person in a “coca cola tu, shola shola tu” world.

Being a hopeless romantic I was certain that I would never settle for anything less than a cheesy rom-com but the world had other plans for me.

Before I could even hop on to the dating scene, the world shut down. I knew there were bigger problems than my incomplete love story but I could not help but wonder how I would ever meet someone. One pandemic, numerous lockdowns and two years of isolation later, here I am (in the words of Chandler Bing)- hopeless and awkward and desperate for love.

Like the beginning of all successful love stories, I decided to let go of my Bollywood dream and downloaded an online dating app. Virtual dating is truly changing the way people find love. Now anyone can connect with potential matches from all over the country. Setting up a profile and getting started was fairly easy but what awaited was a series of left swipes.

One of the drawbacks of virtual dating is that we can filter what goes through to the other side. In addition to not being able to meet someone, it is difficult to get to know someone based on a couple of texts and pictures. Most of the times there are a lot of risks associated with online dating as well. People can be vulnerable to harassment by receiving sexually explicit pictures or texts on chat forums. There is also an increased risk of identity theft and privacy concerns. With a lot of apprehensions, I finally began my dating journey while keeping a few things in mind.

The game plan was simple- to not share personal details and block anyone suspicious. The person we talk on the web is a complete stranger so it's important to take things slow and report any scammers. Talking with friends, meeting in a public place and making safe choices is important when stepping into the realm of virtual dating. While some people on dating apps are driven by lust, others want nothing more than a mere fling.

After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally found someone who I could be myself with. I did not have to make small talk or pretentious jokes with him. We connected by quoting our favorite Bollywood movies and being hopeless romantics. From exchanging numbers to finally asking him out on a date (yes, in this rom-com the girl breaks stereotypes), my online dating journey was filled with ups and downs.

While my virtual dating experience ended on a high, I realized online dating had its pros and cons. While it took away my fear of rejection, many people lacked serious intentions. With increased risks in the online world, everyone should take basic precautions and research about online dating before jumping in. The world we are living in is filled with different types of people. The internet may lack interpersonal touch but the people are still the same. We all worry about love to fill a void that we are unable to fill. We often create a version of ourselves that we want others to see. This however might not be the real us but the intent is still the same- to find someone to connect with.

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