Many people have used social media sites as way to start and develop new relationships, but one Russian site has alienated anyone looking for a same-sex relationship.
Social networking is more than just posting silly cat pictures on one another’s news feeds or getting into pointless fights over trivial matters, as many people use it to keep in touch with their loved ones or develop new relationships with prospective partners. Facebook is a favourite for many, and there have been tales of love developing online between two people that have led to a happily-ever-after ending.
However, the leading social networking site in Russia has cut the legs out from under a large number of people looking to simply live their lives by limiting relationship status options to opposite-sex pairings. Gay rights activists have been up in arms at the discriminatory practice, which is technically within the letter of Russian law but still disheartening to not be able to openly acknowledge your relationship preference on a social media site with as many as 120 million active accounts, according to some reports.
The site, VKontatke, has been held up as “the Russian Facebook” on more than one occasion because of how popular it is in the Eastern bloc. However, unlike Facebook, which offers options for same-sex relationships and even marriages, the Russian analogue has been clinging to an outdated way of thinking – especially since there are so many members of the LGBT community actively support VKontatke for their social networking needs.
The Russian landscape has been hostile to gays and lesbians for quite some time, both online and offline. The Moscow Pride Parade held earlier this year featured several disruptive violent incidents that led to arrests being made, and a general feeling of unease permeates the LGBT community, making it hard to openly date and seek relationships out of fear of reprisal.
Life is stressful enough as it is even before throwing the possibility of meeting new people for the first time face to face into the mix, but one of the best ways around experiencing that anxiety is to use online dating to break the ice.
Not everyone can be the kind of social butterfly that thrives in an environment filled with strangers – in fact it can be relatively rare to find someone who can ‘work the crowd’ like a talented politician; most of us get at least a few jitters when it comes to interacting with people we’ve never met before. In social situations, like a blind date, this stress and anxiety can be even higher, and it could interfere with you actually making a connection with someone you might otherwise be able to in a less threatening environment.
This is where online dating comes in. By placing a layer of separation between people meeting for the first time, much of the face to face meeting stress is taken out of the equation, allowing you to build a rapport with the other person in a safe environment without any of the pressure on you (or them!) to perform!
You don’t even necessarily have to rely on a dating site to make an online social connection – or at least you don’t have to any more, thanks to the rise in popularity of social networking sites. Facebook, that ubiquitous hydra of social messaging, is an excellent way to forge connections with people, along with other sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, and the new kid on the block, Pinterest, so don’t be afraid to reach out over the internet, as it’s a great way to avoid anxiety and an opportunity to be yourself – and just like your mum used to say, being yourself is always the best way to make new friends.
Just because you didn’t meet someone through the use of a dating site doesn’t mean you can’t use the internet to enhance your dating experience, as communicating with friends and prospective partners has become increasingly facilitated by social networking websites as technology continues to push us towards more interconnectedness.
Nowadays, online dating isn’t limited to just the confines of a particular dating website. Between Myspace, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, you’ve got a myriad of ways to keep in contact with people, and this can actually make it much easier to gain acquaintances and expand your circle of friends than in the past.
Say you meet someone new at a party, down at the bar, or in some sort of other social environment: it’s almost a given that you’ll exchange enough information to find one another on your social network of choice, forging organic social connections that can easily grow into something more than that, if the chemistry is there. Not only that, but there are niche social networking sites for people with specific hobbies and interests, such as fitness, music, or photography, bringing people together in an environment where they already have something in common without having to worry about the stigma of approaching a virtual stranger.
This actually makes it all that much easier to meet new people and perhaps find yourself in a new relationship with one of them. People don’t have the same kind of free time that they used to, and being able to steal a moment here or there to test the waters at your favourite social networking site is much easier than a night out – especially when you’re working like a dog to make ends meet in the current economy; it’s also quite a bit less expensive as well, meaning that there’ll be more money in your pocket at the end of the month that can go towards any number of things.