Online dating is a phenomenon that spawned a billion dollar industry based solely on people’s desire to find someone to spend the rest of their life with. Sites like eHarmony and Match take all the things that attract one person to another and simplify it down to a formula for mass consumption.
Some mediums for meeting people don’t ask for a whole lot from their users. The app Tinder simply requires users to have a Facebook profile to link to the app. From there, the app will pull the user’s age, photos, first name, and a compressed “about me” from their page. This process usually takes no longer than five minutes, and after that users are free to use the app to their heart’s content.
Other sites that make a lot more claims about their effectiveness require a bit more preparation and a lot of effort to get the desired effects. Sites like eHarmony boast huge numbers of marriages coming from their site. According to an eHarmony press release, the site is responsible for 25 percent of all marriages when the couple met online. The company also contends that couples are more likely to stay happy and stay together if they meet on eHarmony.
The idea that 25 percent of married couples that met online come from eHarmony becomes a lot more significant when one looks at a study conducted by the New York Daily News. The study states that, of the 19,000 people who married in the United States between 2005 and 2012, “more than one third of U.S. marriages begin with online dating.” Beyond that, “22 percent met through work, 19 percent through friends, nine percent at a bar or club and four percent at church.”
Finding success stories about couples who met each other online isn’t a difficult task. In fact, I could be considered a success story. I’ve gone on dates with women that I’ve met online, and a lot of the time they turned out to be really awesome people that I might not have had the chance to meet otherwise. Have I found the love of my life? Absolutely not, but I can say that I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun going out and getting to know some great people.
However, online dating is not a flawless concept. Lying on the internet is one of the easiest things there is to do and there are long running television shows that base their entire program on ousting these deviants.
The show “To Catch a Predator” has been around since 2004 and focused on the attempts of older men trying to lure younger boys and girls to their homes using online messengers like MSN and AIM. A more recent show, “Catfish,” aired in 2012 and focused on figuring out whether or not someone is being truthful online by setting up real life meetings between the two parties.
These programs highlight some of the very real problems with online dating, and that is that sometimes people lie, and there’s a chance that these people have very malicious intent. One such story is of Terry L. Smith Jr., who admitted to raping half a dozen girls who he met online including a 21-year-old girl who was lured to his home when he said that, they were just going to watch a movie, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Attacks like these are preventable by being incredibly prudent when choosing who a user is going to meet up with. Reverse image searches on pictures can disprove someone’s appearance, and sometimes checking other sites for a user’s username can pull up some information that someone might not want you to know. Having your first meeting in a public place is a deterrent for crime, and keeping in contact with a friend about your location and status is incredibly important.
The big thing about online dating is that it’s a lot like offline dating. Users meet new people, get to know those people, sometimes they end up friends, sometimes they end up hating each other, and sometimes they fall in love. It’s a medium that can be used as a supplement for one’s day-to-day interactions with the people in their life. At the end of the day, online dating sites are something that users should just try to have some fun with.