Blacks and the Online Dating Stigma
I get the same response every time I tell someone Black that I met my boyfriend online. It starts off with a surprised look, then feigned approval in the form of a nod or follow-up comment.
“Yea, I read an article about that” or “My friend told me that her cousin met his wife online.”
Oh, okay. I get that they are trying to mask their uncertainty in fear of hurting my feelings or something, but after several conversations with friends and acquaintances, I’ve realized that this is an issue many experience. Some people, specifically Blacks, seem to be hesitant when it comes to online dating, despite the fact that 30% of African Americans know someone that has used a dating site or application. And I can understand why.
Though the Pew Research study proves that nearly one in three Blacks knows of someone who has used a dating site, there are two other Black people walking around not too familiar with that life. I can imagine that initially online dating was probably a “white folks thing” that was probably only heard of on television and in movies. I’m assuming it slowly crept into water cooler conversations and came up in hair salons. It is still something that #we as a whole aren’t too sure about because it doesn’t directly affect anyone we know.
Then, there is also the possibility that people have a fear of meeting people online because they’ve watched too much Lifetime and assume everyone is a Craigslist killer. The mere thought of engaging with a complete stranger is just mind-baffling, too. But I’m sure that the Black online daters are aware of their security and take precautions to protect themselves when they do decide to meet someone.
Apparently, 80% of African Americans over the age of 18 use the internet but I assume the level of activity varies. I imagine those who are more wary of online dating barely check or update their social media accounts and those accounts are only visible by family and friends. These people believe that the only people you follow on social media platforms that you don’t know are celebrities and tweeting more than 5x a day is “too much.” They can’t fully grasp the opportunities the internet can provide.
And also, there’s the whole thing about you probably appearing to be socially awkward because you didn’t meet someone the “old fashion way” meaning organically. 21% of internet users think that people who resort to online dating are desperate. In my personal experience, I’ve noticed that no one has that friend that they would love for you to meet like how it was in my parents’ day. That is partially because they either don’t want to get involved if something were to go sour, they don’t know any eligible candidates, nor do they want to share the few decent men they might know. I decided to make an account because I didn’t frequent many places where I could potentially bump into someone and I’m also not the type to go up to someone either. I just work, go home, and repeat. I imagine many others that resort to online dating probably are in the same predicament.
Pew Research implies that attitudes towards online dating are becoming more positive with time so eventually, the stigma will be a memory. But for now, the online dating stigma will continue to be an issue among the more conservative family members, friends, and acquaintances of color that just don’t understand the internet as a meeting space. Oh well.