A few months ago I discovered that the worst thing about speed-dating is not rejection, as most would initially think. If we think for a bit, rejection is, in fact, normal for the most of us. When we go out and fancy someone we either try nothing (pre-rejection) or we try some sort of clumsy flirt and end up being rejected. This is, at least, the most likely outcome for most of us. So, speed-dating is not bad because of rejection. That is actually what it makes normal.
The real problem with speed-dating is actually much more disturbing and is confounded with this rejection fear. In a classic speed dating evening a person gets to meet 20 people from the opposite sex in just one night. This is the first problem; too many people in one night that are single, available and willing. It would take a normal person at least 6 months to meet these many new people.
Then the second problem; you are forced to speak with all 20 of them for 3 minutes with no previous background so you spent most of the time telling and finding about the most basic background information: “What you do?”, “Where you live?”, etc. However you are still required to make judgments about them based on this flimsy evidence. Normally we wouldn’t make judgments like that. There wouldn’t be a need, but speed-dating forces that judgement. After all you need to select your love/friend interests. That is the point and that is why you are paying the entry fee.
Because of these snappy judgements the whole experience ends up being quite negative. What initially sounds like a “great opportunity to meet 20 new people”, quite rapidly descends into “I am surrounding by complete idiots”. Speed-dating makes you lose a bit of your faith in humankind – as if we needed any additional reasons – as people come out of it looking pathetic one-dimensional cartoon-like characters without anything useful to say or add to society in general.
But, I hear you say, most of us make judgement based on the first minute or so of meeting someone new, and usually this is quite reliable. I would tend to agree with this, but these first impressions are meaningful when done environments that we are used to. For example, when we meet a friend of a friend we use a lot more information than just the simple 1 minute conversation. The speed-dating environment is an artificial environment, there aren’t any other clues; in this scenario our ‘first impressions’ are terribly unreliable. So unreliable that the more you speak the worse ‘first-impression’ you generate.
It is a lose/lose battle and a truly depressing experience.