The Internet has made inroads into practically every facet of human life, but nowhere is its application more mind boggling, and yes, questioned and stigmatized than in helping people find love.
Estimated to be worth billion, online dating is a robust and fast growing industry. As of 2009, there were approximately 1,400 online dating sites in North America alone. When it comes to playing Cupid between strangers on opposite sides of the globe who would otherwise not meet each other if it were not for the Internet, it appears that existing online dating platforms have only scratched the surface.
Various technologies continue to emerge to improve the way people meet potential mates online. It used to be that online dating sites mainly relied on users' personal information and interests in matching couples, today, there are such things as mathematical algorithms and facial recognition, video dating, and virtual dating (blends online dating with online gaming).
Online dating as we know it today came to the surface in the 90s, but its roots date back to the 1700s when the first matrimonial service was set up. The service ran ads by singles who had limited opportunities to find a companion.
Even before the Internet was created, singles were able to connect through newsgroups and bulletin boards services, but these encounters were only considered incidental. The first service that was created specifically for the purpose of dating was Matchmaker.com which started as a dial-up bulletin board system. Matchmaker.com became a full-blown Web dating service in the 1990s and now has 7 million users.
Match.com soon followed suit and is credited as the first actual Internet dating service. By mid-90s, a host of online dating services have sprouted, like eHarmony and Yahoo Personals.
There was so much stigma attached to the Internet being a medium for romantic connections, with people who used these services viewed as desperate and foolish. Remnants of that stigma still exist today, but online dating has become so popular many are now willing to push their skepticism to the backseat and try it for themselves.
What's there to like about online dating? Many free singles dating services offer more variety and the bonus is that, one doesn't have to leave the confines of the home to go search for a mate. Even those too shy to strike a conversation with people in the real world often experience less anxiety chatting up strangers on the Web.
Online dating also appeals to middle-aged individuals who hate the harsh predictability of the club dating scene: the younger ones get hit on and pair up more frequently and quickly, often leaving the older ones feeling like an outcast. The Internet offers an age-friendly, more neutral alternative.
In America alone, 40 million singles—that's about 40 percent of the adult American singles population—use online dating services. And online dating companies find that when it comes to finding romance, Americans don't put a ceiling on how much they are willing to spend. In 2007, Americans splurged 0 million on web dating services, pushing online dating to the second spot next to pornography as the highest industry for paid Web content.
Nearly 20 million people access at least one online dating Website on any given month, and online dating factors in about 120,000 marriages that take place yearly, says Online Dating Magazine. In stark contrast, experts say those who prefer to sit on a bar stool only has a 2 percent chance of actually landing a date.
Web dating is no longer a fad—it is becoming a tradition and, whether one likes it or not, it's here to stay. Wired Magazine predicted in 2002 that in 20 years, it would be silly, if not unthinkable, for anyone to look for a mate and not give online dating a try.
By: Mr Online Dating