Posted by: iExperience on May 17, 2011
Image of 'Dating for Dummies' by ZakVTA courtesy of YouTube
The Internet has made life a lot easier in many respects. You can now do everything from online banking to sending birthday e-cards to your weird uncle with one eye from Turkey. So, what has it done for relationships? If anything it’s made ‘finding the one’ even more difficult. For this reason, I am hoping to dedicate a couple of posts in exploring the world of online dating and what this means for the Internet community.
Like most dating sites explain, online dating offers the possibility of falling in love with someone while wearing your PJ’s and chilling out on the couch. So why are so many people still sceptical about it then?
Well, for starters, there is a stigma that follows online daters. If you’re not old trying to be young, desperate and seeking ‘company’, or a stereotypical geek who could star in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, then online dating just isn’t for you.
Matthew Savides, a reporter from IOL, played into this stereotype when explaining Cloud Girlfriend, a new dating service which allows you to interact with a fake girlfriend on social networking sites.
“Let’s be honest, the type of people who will make use of this kind of a service are not the most clear-thinking individuals in the world. They are the type who survive on websites, forums and the little characters that live in their minds. The reason they don’t have real-life girlfriends is because they operate just barely on the outskirts of real life,” said Savides.
“It is the established norm for people to arrange dates through every day interactions. Online dating breaks with the norm and is stigmatised by some people for that reason,” said Drewett.
Deception is another major problem when it comes to online dating. Jeffrey Hall, assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, researched what people lie about when making use of dating services and why.
His findings discovered that many people lie about who they are and how they look because of the anonymity the Internet provides.
As many dating services allow you to make up a ridiculous nicknames like blondesxxx or 1purehoney, and upload any random photo of the supposed you, it is not surprising that the bodacious lady with plenty of curves in all the right places and calls herself prettywoman007 on screen could end up being a wheel-chair bound 80 year-old living with 60 cats.
Also, are you really searching for love or your perfect match amongst people who prefer to call themselves names like nawtihubby or better yet smoothy666?
Despite these issues, online dating seems to be flourishing in different countries across the world, including South Africa. White Label Dating, a dating service based in the UK, boasts that their 345 dating sites in South Africa has seen huge growth in the past year, with membership numbers increasing by 800 percent.
This is a positive for online daters not only because there are more people to choose from but also because increased popularity could change the perception of people who use these services.
“As with any social interaction, if more people use this form of interaction and it becomes popular the stigma will begin to fall away,” said Drewett.