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Nanaimo-Vancouver fast ferry love boat has a place in modern matchmaking

Hullo ferry offered speed dating event this month in time for Valentine’s Day

Looking for love in the 21st century has advanced beyond going to a bar and getting someone’s phone number.

While match-making or going to a bar to meet people were tried-and-true methods in the past, Jerry Hinbest, a Vancouver Island University sociology professor, said the growth of the online world has changed romantic pursuits.

“We probably saw before COVID, over the last 20 years, a fairly major shift into a different kind of relationship, a little less serious,” said Hinbest. “People stop talking about dating entirely for a while, and they said, ‘Oh, people are hooking up,’ or they’re connecting and then they went to dating apps, which redefined things and the idea there was that people are going to be connected to potential life partners, but also something more casual.”

An example of looking for love in contemporary times occurred when Vancouver Island Ferry Company hosted a speed-dating event on one of its Hullo ferries last week. Caitlyn Santos, a participant from Vancouver, said she likes doing “novel and weird things,” and said speed dating is an ideal way to date.

“I think that this is the way to actually form a connection and meet interesting people. The point of dating isn’t always to find something romantic,” Santos told the News Bulletin. “It’s to meet new people, it’s to be excited by what other people are doing and become more in touch with yourself. I feel like these are the opportunities where that actually happens.”

Claudia Bastien, from Squamish, has tried online dating, but it’s not her cup of tea.

“I haven’t online dated in four years,” she said. “It’s just not necessary. I don’t need to, I have some phenomenal people that I know in my community that I resonate with. I just tend to meet people wherever I go anyways.”

Brendan Milholm, from Nanaimo, is used to the more traditional style of dating, and hasn’t tried online dating. This month’s Hullo ferry event was his first time speed dating and he liked the fact there were people from different places and “it was quick.”

Milholm was even able to get a couple of phone numbers from people from the mainland. He would try speed dating again, he said.

“It’s unique, different, it’s better than using an app I guess,” said Milholm. “I’m not on a dating app, so this is something that’s a bit more personal … I’m more about a natural kind of relationship and building that than going online and swiping through people.”

The VIU prof Hinbest says that dating in the digital age isn’t without problems, with concerns about algorithms and online surveillance. People are also leery, he said, as what they see might not be what they’re getting.

“One of the things that we know from a sociological take on social psychology … when people make presentations of themselves to other people, it’s different online compared to in-person…” he said. “Online, people put in the wrong pictures, they make a presentation of self that is fraudulent in a way, it may not be intentionally wrong, but it ends up being incomplete.”

Hinbest, who met his wife on a blind date, said in a sense, dating apps are blind dates as well.

“It’s a really common thing to have tried [and daters’] criteria for success are going to be different…” he said. “They’re not necessarily looking for a long-term thing. Especially during COVID, people were just looking to connect to somebody and it didn’t matter so much that they weren’t actually in person. But then at some point, the rubber hits the road, right?”

READ ALSO: Online romance scammers’ new ‘wingman’ is AI

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

I joined Black Press in 2010 and cover education, court and RDN. I am a Ma Murray and CCNA award winner.
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