Dating: Then and Now
When Harry Met Sally is a popular film released in 1989 that can be considered the epitome of a dysfunctional love story. Harry and Sally meet when they carpool from The University of Chicago to New York and once they arrive they part ways. A few years later they meet again on a plane and have a conversation and when the plane lands, they part once again. More years pass and Harry and Sally meet at a bookstore where their friendship finally takes shape. They realize in the very end that they love each other and have loved each other for quite some time. The story ends with the couple getting married. Their relationship is envied by many hopeless romantics who find face to face interactions ideal and still hold onto the belief the “chivalry isn’t dead.” Dating has changed significantly since technology has evolved. Going out on the town and meeting new people has been replaced with sitting in front of a computer and searching through profiles on the Internet.
In today’s society, meeting face to face is considered an archaic method. A select few of the older generation see significance in this “ancient” way of communicating. One might say, “Back when I was a young lad, if you wanted to take a girl out, you had to ask her parents first.” When a man wanted to take out a woman, protocol was followed. The man would most likely find this person of interest at school or in his home town. He would need to prove himself worthy to her parents by going to her house and meeting them and answering all of their questions. The relationships centered on personal interaction. In When Harry Met Sally, older couples share their love stories which demonstrate this interaction. One man says, “I was sitting with my friend Arthur Cornrom in a restaurant. It was in the cafeteria and this beautiful girl walked in and I turned to Arthur and I said, “Arthur, you see that girl? I’m going to marry her”, and two weeks later we were married and it’s over fifty years later and we are still married. Today’s dating is considered far less idealistic than these accounts relay.
Michael J. Rosenfeld of the Department of Sociology at Stanford University did a study called Meeting Online: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary in 2010. He surveyed and collected data about how people meet, the sexual orientation of people that meet, the ages of people who meet, and how the Internet has impacted all of this. In one of his graphs, the way people meet is exhibited, comparing how the couples met with how many years ago it happened. More than thirty one years ago, over thirty percent of people met through friends, twenty- five percent met through family, fifteen percent met through school or work, ten percent met as neighbors, and zero percent met through the Internet. Fast forwarding to approximately three years ago, some statistics are marginally different while some made more drastic turns. A little over thirty percent still met through friends, about fourteen percent met through family, five percent met as neighbors or in school, ten percent met through work, and almost twenty- five percent met online. The age of face to face interaction has been decreasing incrementally while online contact has seen significant increases.
What makes this online interaction so popular? In some cases, it is more convenient to fill out an online profile and have a service give a match instantaneously. While traditional relationship may take months or years to materialize, online relationships may only take weeks or even days. The quest for a perfect husband or wife is not something that all people look forward to. Some dread the dating scene, so they search for a quick way to find soul mates for their lonely hearts. The Huffington Post, in their article “Online Dating Leads to Higher Marriage Satisfaction, Lower Divorce Rates: Study,” suggests that people may be more honest when behind a computer screen. The “pool or prospective partners” is bigger online. An article on Mashable.com called, “4 Couples Who Found Love on Social Media” says that, “According to a recent study conducted by Match.com, almost one-third of singles have dated someone they met online. About 20% of those surveyed said they met their most recent first date online, while only 7% said they met at a bar.” No matter who you are looking for or where you are looking, online dating has branched out to serve all types of people.
Some sites on the World Wide Web are specifically dating sites. Some are generic and for every age group like Match.com or eHarmony. Others are for specific ages such as OurTime.com which is for singles over fifty. ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com are faith based while blackpeoplemeet.com is for a certain race. There are a slew of places online for everyone, from fitness fanatics to single parents. The physical appearance of someone is almost absent on dating sites, besides a profile picture. What the relationship first relies on is common interests, dislikes and the conversations that are had. Dating sites are not the only portals to rely on to help one find love.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other chat rooms provide just as much opportunity as dating sites to discover new friendships or new relationships. The article on Mashable.com shares a story about a couple who started on Twitter. “NY1 traffic reporter Jamie Shupak was covering the big snowstorm in December 2010 when Brian Stelter saw one of her tweets RTed [retweeted] in his stream. He DMed [direct messaged] her, and their correspondence grew from Twitter, to Gmail, to in-person two weeks later. “I scrolled through her tweets, and I knew instantly that I wanted to take her on a date… I liked the personality that was on display on her Twitter profile. You can learn a lot about a person from his or her tweets,” says Brian. This past September the two moved in together and currently live in NYC.” Having the advantages of talking online is helpful for many who stress about their love life or feel they lack to time or motivation to go out and meet new people.
In his study, Rosenfeld brings up the point that, “The power of Internet search is especially important in identifying potential partners for individuals who face a thin dating market. Gays, lesbians, and middle-aged heterosexuals all face thin dating markets, and these are the groups that are most likely to rely on the Internet to find their partners. Additionally, the traditional relationship brokerage institutions of family, the church and the workplace were never remotely as useful to gays and lesbians as they were to heterosexuals.” Online dating provides hope for the hopeless. It can connect a person with the billions of other people in our world today.
For those who frown upon online dating, their minds are considered to be stuck in the past. The traditional way of communicating and carrying out a relationship is far healthier and saner, to their belief. Online dating is not something to be scoffed at, however. It is simply a new method of meeting new people. The world and its technology is changing, and the way relationships are founded is changing right with it. Going out on the town and meeting new people has turned into sitting in front of a computer and searching through profiles on the Internet. In the end, if love is found, does the method of finding that love even matter?
To see my blog post on online dating, click here!