My Digital Valentine

Illustration by Michael Cho

In an age when everyone is a digital brand, we’ve become experts at expressing ourselves — or at least our aspirational selves — all over the Web.

Nowhere is that more evident than the dating realm — matchmaking sites had 593 million visits last October alone. Today, 20 percent of singles say they have dated someone they met online.

Yet as the pool of potential matches expands, so too does romantic idealism. With so many fish in the sea, the logic goes, my exact match must be one of them. The result: “People don’t know how to make concessions anymore,” says Janine Bush, president of Stow-based J. Allen Matchmaking.

And then there’s the other wrinkle: As social media merges with our social lives, we draw conclusions about our dates before we’ve actually met them. But as Gary Genard, president of Arlington’s Public Speaking International, points out, “Those [online] environments are much less rich for giving people information that they can use to judge whether they like us.”

So, what’s a Net-savvy dater to do? Use social media as a tool, not a strategy, and keep romantic tweets and posts in their proper place. For the record, the proper place is never while on a date.