We’ve all seen the commercials: charmingly insincere smiles, falsely united ideals, convincingly unbreakable bonds forged deep in the flaming pit of global information technology via the precise application of a standardized online survey.
We poke fun, we doubt, we swear resistance to the Internet’s pervasive encroachment on romance and human nature, yet many college students have turned to online dating to spark a romance.
Is this relatively new, impersonal method of romantic union an example of humankind’s increasing impatience and the imminent demise of romance? Is Internet dating creeping up on the exceedingly difficult and outdated “right place, right time” notion of love?
Junior Kenza Kebaili believes that online dating does fit the idea of romantic immediacy.
“People meet on eHarmony, they date, and they end up married,” Kebaili said of a couple she knows that recently graduated and gave love on the Web a shot.
Whether you’re a fan of social networking or not, the concept itself is indisputably fundamental to our survival; we gathered to hunt, we gathered to grow, we gathered to reproduce – this much is obvious. However, the moral questions raised by the online dating phenomena must place emphasis on the method, not the undeniable human inclination to find a companion.
eHarmony.com claims to efficiently employ “scientific matching” through a 29-dimension “compatibility matching system” – rather than scour dating sites for appealing pictures or descriptions, sites such as eHarmony, Chemistry.com and Match.com use detailed questionnaires to model an individual’s romantic personality. As Match.com says, “take the lottery out of love” and become part of a quasi-community of interested love-seekers.
“It has its merits. It’s a good idea for shy or busy people,” sophomore Hillary Weiss said. “There’s a lot of skepticism about it because it’s so new and freaks some people out. One of the concepts drilled into our brains this day and age is that anyone can say anything they want about themselves online.”
Tom Makowski, a junior, sees his college years as a basis for individualization. When it comes to dating, he expects the typical student to be looking for “nothing too serious, something steady, and the ability to be an individual while sharing similar ideals, similar interests.”
For some upperclassman, the possibilities of online dating apply directly to this view. Web sites such as eHarmony and Match.com illuminate very specific personality traits as applied to romance. But what about the accuracy of personality predictors and the impersonality of online socializing?
“It’s a good concept,” Makowski said. “Because compatible people may not meet under other circumstances…if there was another way, great, but I see it as a last resort, an act of desperation.”
Jimmy Gibson, a junior, said he has friends who are still together since being matched on eHarmony; it’s hard to argue with online dating when it results in a successful relationship.
“They’re still happily married,” Gibson said. “I wouldn’t call online [dating] an act of impatience, but the willingness to take advantage of available tools.”
Even if an eHarmony survey manages to capture your romantic personality, there are certain inevitable issues.
“You can say anything you want to a computer screen,” says Gibson. “A site like Facebook presents people more honestly…there should be some third party that can speak to the network’s validity.”
If our generation is suited for online dating, are we college students old enough to use it? Michaela Baril, a junior, thinks it’s debatable, adding that her friends say that “some people our age use online dating sites, but they’re not in school, they’re in the real world already.” The campus view trends towards the view of online dating as experimental, like so many of our other decisions. If college is all about taking chances and romance is a chance encounter, add online dating to the list.
As Chemistry.com would ask, “are you ready to experience real chemistry?” If so, like Match.com says, “it’s ok to look.” Here are some of the more popular worldwide dating Web sites: