Thursday, March 25, 2010

Online Dating: Phenomenon or Phreaky?

“Chivalry is dead.” – idk who originally said this.

Remember when people would meet their true love at the carnival, hop in their ferris wheel cart, write 365 letters to each other, swear we’re a bird if they’re a bird, and then get married, write a book and live long happy lives?

Probably not, but that’s how it went down in The Notebook.

My point is, for most people, that’s just not how things happen anymore. There is no courting period, there’s no wooing, and things have just gotten a whole lot less romantic. Yes, The Notebook is set in the 40s, so things were bound to change, but in my opinion, somewhere along the line, a whole lot of dating how-to info got lost in translation.

Goodbye chivalry and old-fashioned romance, hello ease of online dating.

We all know the online dating stereotypes. Losers, computer nerds living in their mother’s basement, creepy 80-year-old men posing as 24 year old multi-millionaires. The usual. Online dating has often been associated with a stigma in our culture; those who cannot get a date turn to online dating, only desperate people date online, only weirdos would go out with someone they met on a Web site. But times have changed and online dating has moved away from savior of the awkward to matchmaker for the masses.

Several movies have poked fun at online dating – there’s the famous You’ve Got Mail, where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks begin an online relationship where they end up falling in love though they actually despise each other in “real life.” He’s Just Not That Into You chronicles the difficulty of dating in today’s technological age where online dating, texting, emailing and Facebooking are common methods of pursuing (or avoiding) a relationship, and Must Love Dogs, which ends in love for two successful attractive individuals for whom dating in the real world did not work out, but their love of dogs posted online was a source of immediate attraction. Online dating takes a less than pleasant starring role in many crime dramas-unfortunately, one of the daters almost always ends up dead. Online dating has invaded multiple areas of society, and it looks like it’s here to stay.

There are hundreds of online dating sites, ranging from those like or which are general sites targeted towards everyone, to sites like, or There are even online sites to teach you how to utilize and maximize your potential on online dating sites. Here’s one example which actually has several video tutorials on topics like how to take the best profile picture, how to stay safe while dating online and which online dating site is right for you.

According to several online sources, more than 40 million people use online dating sites and the average users spends $239 dollars a year. Some of these dating websites claim to be the key to happiness. eHarmony says “On average, 236 eHarmony members marry every day; that accounts for 2% of U.S. marriages.” 2 percent? promises they’ll be so helpful, you’ll feel like you already know the person you choose to date. has helped redefine the way people meet and fall in love. provides a rich tapestry of ethnicities, interests, goals, ambitions, quirks, looks and personalities from which to choose.” But do these sites really hold the key? Is online dating really the answer?

Some research may suggest otherwise.

When you meet someone in person, your first impression is often formed by noticing things about their appearance: apparent age, height, attractiveness level, weight, physical build etc. This impression does not occur online; 1 in 10 users are scammers, with fake profiles and fake pictures, and the other 9 out of 10 commonly lie. American men lie most about age, height and income, while women tend to lie about weight, physical build and age. 1 out of 10 of these real users then leaves within the first month.

According to a CNN article, “The type of people who misrepresented themselves online is the same type of people who do so face-to-face,” saying that some people know what others like and configure their personal profiles to fit those stereotypes. These people desire inclusion, and acceptance, and feel the need to be well liked. However, these desires will persist online or not. The same article says that while men are more likely to lie than women, gender is not the biggest indicator of lying. The study attributes a propensity for lying to being a “high self-monitor.”

Self-monitoring is a part of the impression management process. Impression management, as defined by Dale Leathers and Michael H. Eaves, authors of “Succesful Nonverbal Communication,” is an individual’s conscious attempt to exercise control over selected communicative behaviors and cues. This happens in all walks of life, online and offline—but do we have more control over it online? We obviously use impression management often-when we’re applying for jobs, meeting someone new, or trying to make friends-but we cannot control our appearance. Online, we can control everything. Our name, our age, our height, our interests, our this that and the other thing.

So in the end are we all that different? Is there that much separating Noah from The Notebook and John Doe from

I think so, but then again, that’s just my opinion.

(If you’re considering online dating, check out this list of Web Sites to find the one for you! BUT—always be careful. Research shows that 1 in 10 sex offenders use online dating to meet people. Know your stuff and don’t become a statistic!)

Happy Thursday.

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