I was thinking about this the other day. About when just dating around become poly or how to tell the difference. I'm not sure if it's a generational thing or not. I don't actually know many, if any poly people my age. I do know lots of people who date a lot but none of them consider themselves poly.
I think I see at as being about intentions. A lot of people date around but ultimately they're looking for the one or just killing time with random encounters until they find something bigger. Generally when something gets serious it becomes exclusive. They wouldn't really consider the possibility of allowing more than one of those dating partners to become a serious relationship.
I think that to call it poly there should be intent of dating in order to establish or with the possibility of finding multiple relationships.
Playing the field or dating around can, in my mind, be called non-monogamy but I see is as a temporary state for many of those people. I think it's possible to do that and be poly but many people play the field with no intentions of polyamory.
Personally, I'm not much for casual dating. I don't like going on dates with people I don't know very well. I definitely don't enjoy casual hookups. So for me, playing the field isn't something I tend to do. I take a long time to feel comfortable enough with someone to want to be with them. I often feel like a late bloomer or defective for being so slow but I've been trying to accept that it's ok for me to not want to start relationships in certain ways.
I'm not sure what you're asking the last paragraph. Are you saying you see a lot of young people calling it poly but not being open and honest? I think I do see people who want to cut corners and call it poly after having an affair.