Youth Culture Window
There’s zero light in the room and six singles mingle with each other looking for a date while the infrared cameras capture it all. Ahhhh… finally a reality dating show that’s about conversation, true emotion, chemistry, and personality instead of appearance.
Or is it?
Dating in the Dark
ABC’s newest reality dating show called Dating in the Dark provides six attractive singles (three guys and three girls) with a unique opportunity to meet a person they’d like to date. They’re given a beautiful home to live in for several days, plenty of cool things to do with each another, and even a few resources to help them woo their potential mate.
There’s just one catch: everything happens in complete darkness.
That’s right. To try and determine if love is truly blind, the couples first meet collectively (all six) and then privately (one-on-one) with each other in a room that has no lighting whatsoever; only the infrared cameras can “see” the action. And there’s usually plenty of “action.”
On the first two episodes, there have been ample make out sessions, romantic dinners, and even a few oily massages. Suffice it to say, the six singles become fairly “close.”
Then, the lights come on.
For an exciting, albeit, nerve-racking few seconds, the lights come on and the participants can actually see one another, one at a time. Afterwards, they decide if they want to open the door leading to the second floor balcony and continue the relationship, or open the front door of the mansion and leave for good.
It’s like eHarmony meets MTV’s Real World meets The Lady or the Tiger.
The Dating Experiment
The show ABC bills as an “experiment” airs on Monday nights at 10:00 EST. After two episodes, their “experiment” seems to be leading to a breakthrough discovery: increased ratings. The third episode probably won’t disappoint either; it promises jealousy, the women’s darker side, and some more sexiness. (You can preview it here.) But how much of an “experiment” is this, really?
Léni, an attractive girl from Melbourne, Australia, and a participant on the season premier, expressed her excitement and hope about the show’s premise up front. “They’re not looking at your boobs. They have to listen to you.” However, contemplating her decision in light of… um… the light, she later said, “You just don’t know once you bring in the element of sight how you’re gonna feel about someone. So if I don’t like it, I might say to him, ‘Can we keep hanging out, but just in the dark?’”
In theory, the “experiment” sounds good. But given that our culture is so image-driven and sex-laden, not much science is happening. Let’s face it; this show has about as much “experimentation” as a fat guy jumping off the Sears Tower; we all know what’s gonna happen.
When the Lights Come On
People’s innate desire to “judge a book by the cover” begins as soon as the spotlight shines on their chosen mate. Viewers will see that most of the guys (and some girls, too) immediately start checking out the package from top to bottom, and back to the top again. Viewers can also see the facial reactions of the participants gazing at their light-enshrouded partner. Some really like what they see. Some, well….
Several participants from the first two shows have found that shedding light on the person they’ve become involved with isn’t as grand as they had hoped. Here’s a conversation between Matt and Doug AFTER Matt gropes his “match” Megan in the dark.
“So you felt her body?” asks Doug.
So, is Megan a female sumo wrestler? No, not at all. She’s just not perfectly photoshopped like all the other billboard girls Matt is used to seeing.
“Yeah,” says Matt.
“And you know she’s a thicker girl?” questions Doug.
“Yeah,” says Matt.
“My question for you, is, ‘If Megan turns out to be that thicker girl, but you really like who she is, is the thickness a deal breaker? Or can you see who she is, and love her anyways?”
Matt stumbles about and says, “Well, from what I felt, um you know, it’s not, you know, like she’s out of shape. So, if she is….”
“Answer the question,” interrupts Doug with a smile.
“There’s a line there!” Matt fires back.
“Just give me a yea or a nay,” presses Doug.
“And I’m tellin’ you, I’m on the fence, because there’s a broad range of thickness,” retorts Matt.
Doug relents and simply says, “I appreciate your honesty.”
“I’m on the fence,” reaffirms Matt.
“That’s awesome. But the body’s that big of a deal?” asks Doug.
“Absolutely!” exclaims Matt.
After hearing this kind of conversation, it’s little wonder why girls’ self-esteem is in the tank. Even Megan hinted at the effects this mindset had on her. “I have no problem with my personality. I do have issues with self-esteem, and with the way that I look. And, it’s making me nervous.”
Equality of the Sexes
I know what you’re thinking, but before any parents or youth workers take up torches and pitch forks to embark on a medieval mission to destroy all guys because of their shallowness, just know that both genders confess to placing too much emphasis on looks.
Take Christina for example.
In the season premiere, after she has chosen the front door, leaving Seth on the upstairs balcony, she sobbingly says, “He is waiting up there for me, and I just felt bad. Cause, I’m like, I don’t want people just to judge me on my looks. It’s not all about that to me, but I guess I really hoped I would have that, like, real connection with him and that it would be there on all levels. And, I wish that aspect of it didn’t matter so much to me.”
Hopefully Christina learned something about herself that will help her in the future. Meanwhile, one guy will nurse a broken heart, and try to reconcile his rejection with the memory of their private moments.
Melanie (also from the season premiere) sums up the risks of basing too much on looks. “We’re constantly bombarded by our eyes, you know, making split second judgments. If I had met Allister in the real world, like, just based upon his looks, there’s no way I would have approached him. He’s pretty damn hot.”
Shedding Our Own Light on the Subject
The participants on this show weren’t the first to base too much on looks, and sadly, they won’t be the last. Even the great prophet Samuel placed too much emphasis on appearance (though he was searching for a king, not a date).
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)Samuel recognized the folly of his ways, and when he corrected his vision, was blessed because of it. One of our many tasks as parents and youth workers is to help train our teenagers to look heart-deep instead of just skin-deep. The Apostle Paul talks about the light that will help us see better.
Once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
In the end, I’m afraid that ABC still hasn’t answered their question about whether or not love is truly blind. I do know that lust isn’t blind. So, we must teach our teenagers about godly love, or else, they will not only be dating in the dark, but living in it, too.
Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. (Ephesians 5:8-16)
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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