Why is it so that people began to trust different dating services to help them in establishing new relationships? The early years of the 17th century prior to the invention and application of online media paved way to a fresh and exciting dating service, The Matrimonial Service. Invented in the 17th century, this service published a personal profile with a sole intention of connecting single women and men. In fact, the matrimonial service ran ads exclusively for single individuals in grave search for suitable suitors for marriage. The society at this point in history, was utterly conservative in nature; anyone not married past the age of 21 became a burden and a source of shame to a family. Moreover, mere desperation and shames pushed individual into subscribing to dating services like the matrimonial service. As a result of the traditional state of the society, the dating industry did not pick up until the 18 century. The 18th century saw a growth in the dating service as single members of the society sought such services with the hope of meeting a serious partner to develop a relationship that would lead to marriage. However, the society still considered such activities a taboo. No one dared to speak about such activities openly (Baxter 40).
Many online service providers credit the matrimonial service as a mother of all the current technologically advanced dating sites. It is not only the Internet that plays a significant role in the matchmaking industry, newspapers also run personal ads with an intention to connect lonely singles. In the 20th century, however, the VHS profoundly assisted in connecting lonely singles via video dating (Baxter 40). However, the web dating has escalated online dating to a higher notch. Not only does an individual meet new people, but also one can access images of the person of interest. In addition, one can view the personal profile and know where their partner resides. Today the society fully embraces the concept of online dating. Moreover, web services effectively and efficiently allow singles to interact with other single people all over the world. However, the stigma against online dating still prevails in some conservative parts of the world. Some ignorant individuals still perceive web dating as a desperate act in search of a soulmate. However, as many people continue to testify on meeting their significant part through online dating, the stigma is gradually fading.
You’ve Got Mail ranks in the Box Office top 100 romantic movies ever produced. The release of the film in 1998 spurred the radical rise of online dating (Baxter 40). The movie casts Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as business rivals who do not see face to face in real life. However, they both subscribe to web dating site, and they coincidentally begin dating each other. Their online chats result in a relationship even though in real life they are archenemies. Although the movie indirectly promotes online dating, it portrayed online dating sites as an efficient and interactive medium of uniting people. In addition, You’ve Got Mail movie is an indicator that dating sites can transform adversaries into soulmates (Hewstone 76).
A unique study carried out recently revealed that online dating assists HIV and AIDS patients in need of a partner to find true love. Social sites like Positive Connection provide a medium in which people living with HIV and AIDS react with other individuals of similar health status. For Mary, a South African citizen living with AIDS, online dating site literally brought sunshine in her gloomy world. Subsequent to knowing her status, Mary was hopeless in ever meeting a potential suitor. Most men avoided her because of her HIV status. However, dating services like positive connection allow AIDS patients to interact with other people without fear of judgment (Hewstone 76).
Online dating sites employ sophisticated and advanced technology in matching up single individuals. The technology applied encompasses fun activities that make it easier for single people to interrelate with each other. Moreover, the Internet provides a wide and varied spectrum of men and women to choose from, thus increasing the possibilities of an individual meeting a suitable partner. The Internet also tags the personal profile for men and women along with their images to let a user narrow down the various options to a number that fits his or her criteria. Through online dating, one can learn more about their dates prior to meeting them. People indulge in online dating as a means of escaping the monotonous daily routines of life. Online dating provides thrills and excitement as one chats with an unknown individual (Lazar 35). Online chats are compared to the traditional art of romance. Individuals strive to impress their online chat mates through love poems and letters. Many credit online dating for the excitement and thrills it offers. Statistics indicate that because of the mystification of dating online, most individuals prefer to date their partners online for a while prior to meeting them physically. The Internet has tremendously revolutionized communication. Many acknowledge the Internet for the information age. As much as online dating is exciting and thrilling, it also has negative attributes to the society. It is critical that individuals employ extra caution while meeting people online. If the person, an individual meets online makes them uncomfortable, it is advisable that they immediately move to the next person as the Internet provides a variety of options (Anderson 14).
Notably not every individual that subscribes to online chats is single. Recent studies on online dating indicate that individuals in relationships constantly subscribe into online dating sites. This is a means to escape the stresses of their face-to-face relationship (Philabaum 43). Some of these individuals subscribe into dating sites with no intention of cheating on their spouses, but just out of curiosity. However, within a short span of time the innocent chats develop into full-blown affairs (Hewstone 76). Moreover, because of the subtle nature of Internet, affairs chances of a cheating partner being caught are extremely slim. Studies reveal that cheating partners prefer using their mail chats to partake in online dating. Most individuals cheating on their spouses participate in these chats in the wee hours of the night. Under these claims, the Internet acts as a medium in which a discontented spouse can seek external pleasure. Online dating appeals to most individuals interested in having affairs since one does not require feigning a business trip an activity associated with ordinary affairs (Lazar 35).
Surprisingly, some individuals who partake in online activities do not consider their activities as cheating. These individuals argue that because they do not meet their partners face to face then they are not cheating on their partners. To worsen the situation, these individuals engage in cyber sex with their online partners. A heterosexual study on online activities carried out by McKenna and Green in the year 2001 on sexual chat room subscribers revealed 41% of those who partake in cyber sex do not consider their activities as cheating. It is important to note that more women than men did support and encourage cybersex (Atwood, 56). However, a similar research, carried out by Whityy in year 2002, did contrast the former one. In this research, respondents questioned about cyber sex did consider their activities as cheating. To this group of individuals, the kind of activities that their partners indulge in while on the Internet did matter to them. They based their argument on the fact that most cheating spouses tend to reveal more information about themselves to their virtual partners than they would with a face-to-face spouse (Moggridge 34).
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A study carried out in 2007 (Plunkett 14) by Henline revealed that online dating is immensely popular among university students. The students described online infidelity as a multifaceted activity in two domains. The two principal constituents of online infidelity are the sexual aspect and the emotional aspect. Students ranked emotional online infidelity worse than sexual infidelity, since it meant that an individual is entirely dissatisfied with a relationship (Kock 12). In fact, the study revealed that most intimate online relationships flourish since they are based on an emotional attachment rather than sexual gratification. Online infidelity generally appeals to people who lack emotional satisfaction in their relationship. In fact, 50 % percent of adults who engage in online infidelity experienced the emotional satisfaction compared to their face-to-face dating (Plunkett 14).
In addition to stimulating affairs, most individuals who engage in online dating do not portray their real personalities. When filling in the online profiles, most tend to emphasize mostly on the positive attributes that appeal more to potential daters. A survey carried in 2010 revealed that over sixty percent of chat room users overstate and lie about their social and financial status (Schwartz 67). For instance, some online users lie about their gender. A woman interviewed during the survey stated that after dating her partner online for a couple of years, she was certain that he was a man, however, on meeting face-to-face it turned out that her partner was a woman. After this incident, the woman is quite hesitant about online dating. Most online users tend to project ideal personalities that are ideal and do not exist in the real world. Moreover, since most individuals consequently lie on their profiles, they are suspicious of other individuals who join chat sites. Therefore, it is utterly true in stating that online relationships lack trust a significant factor that forms a solid relationship (Atwood 56).
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Since most individuals do not meet face to face while dating online, many tend to overlook the accountability factor. This is because individuals lie about their identity, and many tend to overlook accountability. Individuals engage in reckless talk and activity without a fear of the negative implications that their actions might arise (Anderson 16). The lack of accountability in online dating creates a fantasy world. In reference to an article written by Susan Banes (Seidman 23), it is pure fantasy that desperate individuals subscribe to online chatting sites. Some of these individuals have issues with their image and self esteem. When they enter the chatroom, they transform their desires into reality. According to Susan Banes, in real-life dating, it is expected that individuals introduce the person they are dating to either friends or family members. The scenario is quite different in online dating where there is no guiding principles or rules to control individuals to date. According to Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web, lying is an accepted concept in the Internet world. In fact, online dating users lie as a means of protection from other users (Kock 13).
A recent BBC article focusing on online dating reported Japan as the country hit highest with online relate crimes. In about 800 crime cases reported in Japan, the perpetrators contacted victims through a dating site (Shih 34). Seventy percent of these cases involved sex with underage girls. Moreover, most girls report sexual violation on the first day of meeting their online partners. Sadly, the police cannot trace the offenders of such crimes since most do not fill in the real information. Recently in Japan, a man raped and dumped the corpse of a sixteen-year-old girl. What is worse, online service providers concerned still cannot provide the identity of criminals who engage in such heinous activities. In response to online criminal activities, the Japan government is in the course of endorsing a law that aims to minimize the lies in online sites (28).
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Individuals who engage in online dating spend most of their time online in order to compensate for activities that occur in face-to face dating. This person becomes so engrossed in online activities that they waste the available resourceful time in online dating. In fact, most organizations associate poor performance from employees with dating online. The general performance of employees, whether positive or negative, has a direct impact on the economy of a country (Anderson 19). Online dating tends to affect individuals psychologically. Individuals become introverted in nature, and they become easily irritable and grumpy when disconnected from the chatting sites (Schwartz 67).
In 2008, the US government generated approximately $ 900 million from online dating services. Research estimated the figure to rise by 40% in 2011 (Silverman 87). The USA alone harbors about 850 dating and chatting sites. This is a 30% percent growth within a span of five years. There are specific companies that occupy the largest portion of the online market, namely Yahoo! Personals, Match.com and AOL Personals. Significant studies reveal that the Baby Boomer is a growing tendency in the United States, with over 80 million single subscribers. Notably, online dating sites employ webcam services during chat periods. As an effective measure of handling the growing population of an online user, most sites register users of a certain demographic in order to increase the chances of making matches. This has resulted in the growth of niche sites that appeal to a particular group of people. Niche online dating sites come up based on race, religion and gender. Christian singles interact with other Christians in sites like Christian café, while the Manhunt online dating service appeals to individuals interested in meeting same sex partners. However, sites like eHarmony only connect straight individuals (Kenney 43).
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Social networking plays a critical role in eradicating the stigma that surrounds online dating. Although most marriages are because of people meeting by natural means, at least every online dating user meets a partner or coins a close friendship (Romm-Livermore 14). This evidently proves that the web is an effective tool in meeting a soulmate or a lifelong partner. As a result, marriages made through online dating and the shame associated with meeting a spouse online is gradually vanishing. Interestingly, online dating now employs personal ads a concept that pioneered online dating services (Kenney 43). Dating sites like Craig list fully embrace the concept of personal ads because of their simplicity and the ability to protect a user’s identity and privacy. For instance, most dating sites require an individual to fill in personal information and upload photos, in addition to filling in a questionnaire. This may seem time-consuming and tedious to some individuals. Such individuals prefer posting a personal ad on Craig list and, in a moment they will have numerous Inbox responding to their personal ad. In addition to saving time, sites like Craig list offer users' anonymity and privacy without a relative or friend finding out their activities. Meanwhile, social sites like Facebook and MySpace are known to connect friends and families all over the world. However, these social sites also promote matchmaking and romantic escapades (Moggridge 35). In this century, almost everyone has an online profile in at least one social site. However, some individuals join several social sites like Twitter and Facebook in the hope of meeting a soulmate. This is because social sites have fewer stigmas surrounding them, and opening an account is free. Online dating is a trend that is rapidly growing, and it is highly unlikely to fade. The graphs in figure 1.1 offer an insight in the growth of online dating service.