In this day and age, online dating services have become so popular that it is the most widely used form of dating. It was determined in a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association and COM Score Networks that people in the U.S. alone spent over 450 million dollars on online dating and personals services in 2004. This study ranked dating through the Internet as the largest portion of paid content on the World-Wide-Web.
There are more than a thousand different dating sites available as of the beginning of 2006. Match.com, eHarmony, Yahoo Personals, and American Singles are some of the most popular sites.
There was initially a strong social stigma associated with forms of online dating that occurred since the beginning the Internet. Many people thought that those who dated online were strange, socially inept, or otherwise undesirable people that were resorting to an extreme measure to find dates.
However, online dating became more popular in the middle of the 1990s. This change culminated with a movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan called ‘You’ve Got Mail’ that was released in 1998. The stigma of dating on the web has all but disappeared in the preset day and age. It is now widely regarded as an intelligent, practical and effective way of meeting people for dates, relationships, and even marriage.
Online dating has more benefits as compared to meeting people by chance or at a bar, night club, or party. For instance, users of an online dating site can browse ‘profiles’ of potential dates prior to communicating with them. This offers an element of selectivity that bars and other traditional meeting places lack.
A person is also limited to the people present in the room in a live social setting. You may also be engaged in a conversation by someone you have no interest in. There is the ever-present fear of rejection in live scenarios. On the other hand, it is much easier to say hello to people you may have otherwise been too nervous to approach on the Internet. You can also choose from thousands of people from any location in the country.
People who criticize online dating often point to a number of dangers of this modern phenomenon. They cite examples where users were mislead, lied to, and sometimes kidnapped or assaulted by people they had met by way of the Internet. However, the dangers of dating on the Internet are common to all forms of dating.