The power of context

Blue fish

Pretty blue stripes or harbingers of doom?

Context is incredibly powerful in getting to know someone. That whole idea of a fish out of water applies here. To truly understand the fish, you need to know where it came from, how it evolved and why it’s the colour it is.

Out of context, you don’t know whether the bright blue stripes mean that the fish is poisonous or simply evolved to hiding in blue sea anemones.

Internet dating is like that. We’re all fish out of water.

The advantage is that we’re not psyched out by people who, under normal circumstances, we would deem out of our league.

By the same token, we’re probably not as impressed by someone who doesn’t know how to craft a pithy profile or choose a suitably sexy photo.

On the Internet, we tend to discount people on arbitrary factors whereas in real life, there’s vastly more information available. The key thing: context. We can smell them, touch them, hear them and observe the way they interact with the world around them.

When we’re in our natural habitat, we shine. We’re confident, we’re in costume; it’s our show.

On the Internet, we’re marketing ourselves like products (and we all know Big Macs don’t look like that in real life).

It’s critical to develop and understand context as quickly as possible and then make a decision.

That’s why so many people fall in love with colleagues, friends and flatmates. These people have instant context; we know where they fit in. Outside of the safety of these worlds, we need to unearth this information for ourselves.

My advice: do it fast and be brutal. If you have misgivings, voice them. If you have questions, ask them. Do your research, trust your instincts and don’t give up until you find the best fish for you.

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