As shocking as it is to be entering my senior year after seemingly so short a time, I find it more surprising to ponder the societal changes that have occurred since I left high school. As shocking as it is to be entering my senior year after seemingly so short a time, I find it more surprising to ponder the societal changes that have occurred since I left high school. Besides the exciting cultural, political and local developments, dating and sex trends have kept me at the edge of my seat.
Most notably, I’m hearing more and more about singles meeting their soon-to-be husbands and wives online.
A study presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting found that, for a group of 3,000 heterosexual people who met in 2009, connecting online was the third most common way to find a romantic partner, behind meeting through friends and bar or restaurant encounters.
What’s happened in the world of dating? I suppose if I were looking for a boyfriend, it would be better to skip going out this weekend and make a profile. I can just see it now: “Attends the University of Pittsburgh, loves movies, sports and going on vacations … sex columnist for The Pitt News.” I’m sure the use of the word “sex” in the occupation category would bring in the most respectful group of bachelors, ones with absolutely no expectations for our first date.
Levity aside, it got me wondering: Aren’t these websites changing the nature of dating? It seems as if we’re choosing partners based on the strengths of their online profiles — or resumés, if you will. This is dangerous not only because we can exaggerate our merits on such profiles — how easy is it for talented writers to inflate their appeal, luring partners in sentence by sentence? — but also because it doesn’t give “underqualified” people a fair shot. After all, doesn’t everyone merit a chance — beyond the scanning of a webpage — to make an impression, to display that charm only accessible through an in-person meeting prior to clicking the “next” button?
Now it seems like we search for our perfect partners the way we search for a pet in the newspaper. When you take away the fantastical storybook endings and increased marriage statistics, all we’re really reading is something similar to the personal ads for kinky sex or foursomes found in the Craigslist classifieds. Is that the future of dating and the future of sexual relationships?
Like those ads, these sites give us the opportunity to poke around, take them in, make a move or progress to the next one. Profiles become a way to shop online. One December 2010 article in The Economist, “Love at First Byte,” even suggests that by using this method, people start to see others as products that they can use and exchange or return when something better comes along.
I really think this online shopping is a product of pure laziness, a product of excessive convenience. I love everything made easy in this day and age, but what happened to the intrigue?
With the opportunity to browse for lovers, our will to do things “the hard way” will decrease even further.
Maybe you’ve exhausted all your options — maybe in that instance one would turn to searching online. But if you’re so busy that you only have time to use online dating resources, then I can’t believe that love is really a priority for you.
And if this is the case, then do you even have the adequate time and energy to put forth for a relationship if you have no will to look for one without the help of virtual matchmakers?
With that said, I am happy for those of you that have found “true love,” regardless of the source. Yet I will continue to believe in old-fashioned, wait-for-your-call, go-out-for-coffee dating.
Because even though I use this MacBook Pro for almost every darn thing I could possibly think of, I do not want to rely on it for finding love. And anyways, didn’t you get the message? A “romantic spark” can’t be translated into HTML.