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CLARIN

All Dating Is Speed Dating In The Digital Age

Love, jealousy and courtship have become impatient, high-speed activities that play out on our computer screens and smartphones.

Love at first emoticon
Love at first emoticon
Marcelo Bellucci

BUENOS AIRES — When it comes to online dating, time is very much of the essence. Of all the missteps one might take — an ill-conceived comment, an inappropriate emoticon — none are as troublesome for a budding relationship, it seems, as a late reply.

That's because delays prompt tension and trigger suspicions. People start imagining the worst. Their heads go places that can have a damaging effect, sadly, on matters of the heart. This is part of the findings from a group of researchers with Argentina's state-run CONICET institute studying the consequences of the digital revolution on courtship.

Would-be lovers struggled with this issue long before the internet, of course. But with digital technology, what we consider to be a reasonable wait-time has shrunk dramatically. Once upon a time someone might have waited a week or more to reply to a love letter, according to Mariana Palumbo, one of four CONICET researchers involved in a study on the online dating habits of young people, aged 18 to 24. But with smartphones and the internet, immediacy is paramount.

"Digital communication is changing the waiting thresholds, and also people's expectations," she told Clarín. "Everything happens in the time of a click or two, which of course redefines the concept of courting."

These days, relationships don't just get their start on networking sites, the researchers founds. They are also sometimes broken there. Or repaired. "You can fight while chatting, then become friends again with an emoticon," Palumbo notes.

The CONICET group also looked at how evolving applications like WhatsApp are used in — and adapted to — situations of control or anger.

Everything happens in the time of a click or two.

Privacy settings, for example, can have a major influence on other people's speculations. On social sites, selectively publicizing profile info can lead viewers to make deductions and draw conclusions.

Palumbo and her partners found that some new couples opt to forgo privacy barriers altogether by sharing passwords. "This is taken as proof of love," she says. "Romantic love has many elements of violence, control and jealousy. But these violent practices also allow youngsters to update their love, because giving their password is ultimately about conveying trust."

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Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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