Shidduch Vision: A Solution or More Social Engineering?
News Flash/Full Disclosure: I'm a student of free market economics who don't care for social engineering, but my readership already knows that. So on with the likely predictable post.
Shidduch Vision is a new teledating program that is being touted as new and innovative. As per the website FAQ, shidduch vision is supposed to help singles avoid unnecessary travel, loss of time, emotional savings, as well as be "extremely economical" (at only $18 for a 50 minute appointment, 2 date minimum so the math works out to $36).
Perhaps I am just missing something, but I simply don't understand why a young man can't simply pick up a telephone, chat, develop a connection, and if a connection develops plan an in person date? If the goal is to help people save money, the phone would be the way to go. Long distance is nothing like what it used to be. But economics aren't the only factor at play here. . . . .
When I was dating, the "rule" on the street was that when a young lady receives a call to confirm/schedule a date, that the call should be short and sweet as talking on the phone was deemed "awkward." Personally, I found the phone quite comfortable and thought the phone was a nice way to break the ice before meeting face-to-face. I'd like to hear from readers in the dating population about your comfort level with meeting in a 50 minute teledating session. Personally, this strikes me as very awkward.
Let's get back to the claims because I think this is part of where the "shidduch system", defined loosely, is failing its participants. Let's look specifically about the claim "emotional savings." While dating is a serious venture, I don't think it is fair to singles to desensitize dating, nor do I think it is right to suck every last vestige of fun out of meeting your potential partner (if there is any fun left in the process, either in the outside world or in the frum world). Certainly the barrage of rules (and Shidduch Vision comes with quite a few rules and threats of its own also) has done quite a bit to drain any enjoyment out of meeting and dating. Not too long ago, we ended up at a table with girls who appeared to be right around seminary ago. They were reviewing the rules of dating as reported to them by their NY friends and talking about how much they dreaded jumping into shidduchim. I just felt sad for them. They hadn't even been on a date yet and already they weren't having fun.
In regards to taking out the emotions, I raise my hand in opposition. I do believe that dating is a process of discovery and learning, and when we look to help singles "save emotions," we strip them of an important aspect on the road to finding a spouse. As parents know, hurt and disappointment in reasonable amounts fuel growth and drive. Somehow, dashed hopes seem to go with dating as peanut butter goes with jelly. Perhaps the myriad of rules to help singles cushion the blow of being let down is hindering the process, rather than helping?
I think Ariella sums up some of my thoughts on social engineering over at at WolfishMusings writing: "the more innovations I see in the shidduch system (the resume, the proposal to reward shidduchim with older girls, etc.) the more I think we have to gain by returning to the simple, direct approach used in the days when the girls lent each other dresses and went out into the vineyard to meet someone to be their husbands."
One last point I want to touch on before summing this up: as per the FAQ on Simcha Vision, there is a great deal of emphasis on tznius and privacy. However, I have to wonder if a system of teledating really will promote this ideal. If tnzius is the means to help our daughters maintain their dignity and be seen as more than sexual objects, I think we would do best not to reduce the frame of the discussion of young men meeting more geographically distant girls in the terms of wasting time, money, and emotion! I don't reject the claim that teledating will perhaps increase the likelihood of certain meetings leading to marriage, but then again, I think that a few telephone calls and an exchange of pictures can increase in-person meetings too without the need to another program to be sponsored and more establishment of rules that further isolates singles from being part of a pro-active process.