What used to be considered completely taboo, aside from being sad, pathetic and surely only the domain of the most desperate, socially inept and romantically-challenged among us has now become a legitimate way to meet a mate. And the on-line dating industry, now worth over $4 billion globally is clicking all the way to the bank.
The rules of partnering-up have shifted dramatically in the last couple of generations. Although my grandmother was not subject to a traditional arranged marriage, which was the assumed route to matrimony back then, she meet my grandfather when she was fairly young and never looked back. My mother met my father at university which was the desired side-effect of further education for post-colonial women of good standing. So, it should not come as any great shock that singletons of the information age would enlist the assistance of the world wide wed (or web) to find true love. We use it to find everything else?
It may have taken us a few years to catch on and finally remove the sorry stigma from this method of match-making but once we realised that life is not a Jennifer Aniston film and our perfect match will not come bumbling into our lives at the eleventh hour with roses and an engagement ring, we needed to take matters into our own hands. And the internet has certainly made that a lot easier to do with super specific, niche sites – Partners4Farmers, SugarDaddie.com, AnimalAttraction (for pet lovers), TrekPassions.com (for Trekkies). It’s an exhaustive list which leaves no lifestyle, ethnicity or religious persuasion excluded, if that’s how you wish to search. Like any other on-line service, dating over the web has fragmented into tailor-made options for all tastes and sensibilities, email alerts and all. When was the last time a blind date arranged by your overly concerned friends saw you seated across the table from a charming, humorous, attentive individual who was your socio-economic and physical equal? Never? What the internet offers is the opportunity to meet that person every day. In fact, Match.com, one of the most popular options, boasts “more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.”
Now that the meat market’s initial fears about safety and ridicule have somewhat dissipated, singletons are beginning to appreciate the intricate web of algorithms and equations used to make these connections, while by-passing the flawed, human judgements and projections that we subject a first date to. The machine that calculates compatibility on your behalf can probably be trusted more than your hyper-conservative mother and the pickings certainly aren’t slim or inconvenient. New addition to the dating fray, ‘Love2Meet.com’ even allows searches by postcode providing easy access to a slew of perfectly picked persons waiting for someone just like you.
In an article titled ‘Looking for someone?’ the New Yorker stated “For many people in their twenties, Internet dating is no less natural a way to meet than the night-club-bathroom line.” It seems that technology has opened the door to a new brand of romance, 17 per cent of newly married couples now meet this way, so if you’re in a rush, it’s a lot quicker than fate and serendipity seem to be.