Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

The filtered encounter: online dating and the problem of filtering through excessive information

Best, K. and Delmege, S. (2012) The filtered encounter: online dating and the problem of filtering through excessive information. Social Semiotics, 22 (3). pp. 237-258.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


Technologies are meant to enable us to contact more people, more often, and in this way “network” with others. Applied to dating, this would appear to be a good thing, as people would thereby benefit from having additional choice. However, the flip side of the coin is that because of the increased choice we get a case of too much information, too many choices, too many potential (and potentially unsatisfying) mates. We find in a qualitative study of online daters that filtering through the many options, partners and choices offered by online dating sites is a prime concern in online dating. Our aim in this paper is to characterize these filtering techniques, and also to discuss their potential social impact. We find that filtering begins at the initial screening process as daters try to “catch out” incongruous behaviour before investing too much energy in someone unsuitable. Participants quickly become increasingly technologically literate of the code-based features of the site in their quest for greater filtering efficiency. They also come to rely on the cultivation of their own filtering “instinct”. In the end, however, the prevalence and ongoing practice of filtering creates what can only be termed a shopping culture of dating, which often serves to sap the dating energies of participants.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: 2012 Taylor & Francis
Item Control Page Item Control Page