Internet intimacy

Opinions_Online-Dating

The social stigma against a safe means of finding ‘The One’

Formerly published in The Other Press. July 3 2013

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

Romance: a perpetual cloud hanging over our heads—or not.

Sometimes it’s violent like a thunderstorm, other times it’s a wisp in the sky-refracting sunlight upon us. Either way, we yearn for it. But it’s not easy in this modern world: a relationship is as hard to get and keep as a full-time job. So with the advantages of Internet dating, why are we still reproachful of it? Why do so many consider online dating sites to be for the desperate, the lonely, and the horrifyingly unkempt? Is it ever going to change?

Dating sites exist across the globe and they’re gaining popularity. What began as a trend in the early ‘90s is now a million-dollar industry. So why is it not like Facebook? Why are so many individuals not on Plenty of Fish (POF) or Match.com?

It’s because finding a meaningful relationship isn’t as simple as picking apples out in the produce section. We choose to go to certain bars and nightclubs instead of others because we enjoy the scene, the music, and most importantly, the people there. It’s easier to interact with someone if they have similar tastes and interests, and dating websites understand that—that’s why in recent years the Internet has exploded with different sites appealing to every kind of person, from exotic travelers looking for companionship to married individuals seeking affairs. Yep, once we get over the stigma of online dating, odds are we will never be alone again.

Ultimately, the fear of loss, rejection, and humiliation are what keep online dating at arm’s-length. Then again, heartbreak happens in physical relationships too. How often do you see two friends dating each other within a friend circle, and when the inevitable breakup happens, one of them is cast away from the group? Some people, myself included, consider this form of intimacy to be even riskier.

Online dating is changing rapidly. Sites like POF are converting to mobile devices, allowing users to correspond without having to be tied down to their computers. “All online dating is going to be mobile in the next year or so—that’s the huge thing,” POF founder and CEO Markus Frind told The Globe and Mail before Valentine’s Day this year. “We also launched top prospects a few weeks ago, which basically shows all the people you have communicated with and then we predict which one of those you’re most likely to enter into a relationship with—and also stay in it.”

We do a lot of shameful things in the name of love, so why are we still condemning Internet dating? Drunk girls and drunk boys, pull yourselves together and reevaluate what you really want. You can choose follow your heart, but there are many paths leading to your happy ending, and Internet dating should no longer be the road less traveled.

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