Virtual presence leads to confused take on romance
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 15:10
No one said finding true love was going to be an easy.
Online dating has been a trending option for those looking for a connection via the Internet instead of meeting someone in public, at the workplace or at school.
According to a 2008 survey conducted by technology and market research company Forrester Research, Inc., online dating generated $957 million in revenue that year. Thus, online dating is the third largest revenue producer online, following digital music and video gaming.
The big attraction to these online dating services is the mix of science, technology and marketing. The process where people get paired up with others begins through massive databases containing matching algorithms and psychological profiling. Based on this information users are allowed to message one another.
The more questions answered on websites such as www.eHarmony.com or www.match.com the better as the site assembles a personality profile that is compared to an algorithm set of predefined categories. A list is produced that matches people who have similar values and who are within a reasonable geographical distance.
Talking to others online allows users to get to know their dates from home. The user can easily weed out “losers” and the nervousness that usually comes with first dates can be avoided. Users are able to show interest without face-to-face rejection.
According to a study by Michael J. Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, of the romantic relationships formed in the U.S. between 2007 and 2009, 21 percent of heterosexual couples and 61 percent of same-sex couples met online.
However the “science” that claims to know how dating sites gauge compatibility has not been verified by an outside party. Unfortunately, there have not been any Internet postings providing details due to the companies’ data collection and trade secrets.
Online dating websites have become less about finding a soul mate as the television commercials claim.
The nearly 200-page report, “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis from the Perspective of Psychological Science,” claims that the biggest advantage to dating websites is that they offer access to a massive sea of potential partners. The sites can reduce the number of potential dates to people with similar profiles but can also overwhelm them with too many choices.
The study, conducted in 2010, was made to highlight the differences in how people interact on these websites. On average, out of the 6,485 users on an online dating website, men viewed three times more profiles than women did. Similarly, men were approximately 40 percent more likely to contact a woman after viewing her profile than women were after they viewed a profile.
By having hundreds of people, literally at one’s fingertips, some may develop a “shopping” mindset which could result in people becoming more judgmental and shallow in their search – caring only about things such as someone’s attractiveness and fickle interests.
This might mean that people would often click away after looking a potential date and before reading the person’s profile, which gives an insight into deeper things such as their personality, their aspirations and the values they hold themselves to. This can make the hundreds of questions answered by users meaningless because the compatibility percentage that is implemented would be insignificant if people are being that shallow.
Some people disregard the idea of online dating, yet they have never even given it a chance. One of the big reasons, they claim, is because people can be deceitful about who they are.
Whether they meet “in real life” or online, people may lie. Sometimes, people may feel the need to exaggerate the truth to make themselves appear “cooler” than they really are. But in any case, no one would be able to really know a person until an actual date occurs.
The free dating website www.OKcupid.com is unique from others of its kind because the site posts its dating trends and statistics. In a particular blog post, it features lies users have used in their online profiles. For example, some of the photographs that users have posted online are out-of-date. Another lie that’s popularly used by users is to claim they earn more money than they really do. It is probable they did so to get more messages, but if someone is 23 years old, chances are he or she is not making $100,000 a year.
Individual users should keep these things in mind, but they should not over-react to these possibilities. There are some honest people out there looking for an honest connection.
And that’s not to say all online dating is bad. It’s a crapshoot – a mixture based on luck, giving someone a chance and deciding not to just click onto the next person.