When you press enter on the Google search above, many ads for dating sites appear in the results: “Expat Dating Site Prague”, “ 1000s Czech Singles”, and “Czech Dating Site”, to name a few. However, nothing really comes up about the dating climate in general; even after trying multiple searches and going into even the fourth page of results, I could not find much about dating in the Czech Republic. Maybe I am a terrible researcher…Or, maybe this further supports the idea that Czechs are not so fond of discussing their personal lives.
As we know, Americans are very keen on sharing as much information online as their friends and family can stand. Twitter would not be where it is today if people weren’t so obsessed with talking about themselves and their lives. On the flip side, Czechs do not seem to possess the same personality trait (narcissism? friendliness? you decide). As a few different professors have confessed to my classes this semester, even American students in professional, classroom settings are more willing to share their thoughts about subject matter and their personal opinions. On the flip side, the Czech students that I teach English to are not as vocal about their inner thoughts and lives as I expected them to be—based on my experience in the United States.
Thus, Twitter does not have the power over Czechs that it does over Americans. In fact, Twitter does not even give users the options to see trending tweets in the Czech Republic. So, perhaps I am not the worst researcher in the world, and have simply stumbled upon another example of Czech “silence”.
Let me say, before I go any further, that I am not claiming that Czechs do not use social networking sites for dating; only that maybe it is uncommon to discuss this usage. There were few articles published about it, and virtually no data on the subject. This blog post is not an attempt to analyze Czech dating patterns—I unfortunately do not have the data nor authority to do so—but a basic study of some of the dating sites that originated in the Czech republic.
According to one article on visahunter.com, some of the most popular dating sites in the Czech Republic are Seznamka and Stesti.
Seznamka was established in 1998, and according to them, they are “one of the largest and longest-operating in the country”. From looking at the homepage, it appears that the site functions via “ads” placed by users trying to find some particular thing in the dating world. There are categories of these ads to chose from and search through: serious familiarization and non-binding flirt, and then several based on interests, dates, location, and even a category for partner exchange.
Stesti is mostly the same, but with an even more direct approach. Users’ profiles are readily displayed on the front page of the website with a very brief description—username, age, and location. At the top of the page is what looks like either popular “advertisements” or recent comments made by users looking for love.
This page reinforces my thesis: there are no long-winded descriptions about how many yoga classes someone has taken or about how much they love their sports car. Instead, ads like “Hi, I am here…where are you?” are more common. It is a very direct system that shows only the most important, distilled facts about a user. Assumably, this method is quite popular, and would allow for users to keep most of their information private until a face to face meeting.
Only the advertisements tab includes longer descriptions of what the person is looking for. Even individual profiles are fairly simplistic.
Across the Atlantic, we have OkCupid, which usually produces this sort of profile:
This profile has managed to include several paragraphs about himself, that tell you so much, yet so little about him. It’s even difficult to determine what kind of relationship they are looking for. From this, and many other profiles like it, one can further confirm the difference of social media usage by Czechs and Americans: Czechs seem to prefer streamlined, direct, yet private presentation, whereas Americans use floods of “information” to intrigue potential partners.
From my observations I feel I can absolutely confirm that social media provide allegorical models of the societies in which they originate or are popular. Differing social and political histories and current climates undoubtedly contribute to all parts of society. Online dating is not immune to the typical behavior patterns of a group of people, as exhibited by this small sample. While the Czech “advertisements” were often more direct and less flowery, American profiles presented vague personal statements and an overabundance of personal information. Even in this small study of dating sites and profiles’ appearances, strong cultural differences are clear.
Featured Image: Screen shot by Caroline Miranda