By EMILY LITTLE
It may seem odd that social media dating outlets such as Tinder and match.com are the cultural descendants of an 18th century “matrimonial agency” that, according to Dr. H.G. Cocks in his book “Classified: The Secret History of the Personal Column, “helped lonely bachelors search for wives through printed ads.”
However, humanity’s search for a soulmate is one that dates back beyond even the first printed newspaper.
Since the monthly pamphlet entitled Link, founded in 1915 by journalist Alfred Barrett reported Cocks in his book, people have been able to make money by helping others find dates. Everyone wants to find love.
It stands to reason that love, or at least a media-fed facsimile of love, should become a commodity.
Modern technology, however, took the search for love to a whole new level. Dating sites such as eharmony, okcupid, or match.com give users the opportunity to build a profile and connect with other users.
Most recently, the Tinder app places its users one swipe away from a text conversation with a “love” match. But can a 200-character “introduction” or a profile picture really lead to the same level of connection as a traditional dinner-and-a-movie date?
The vast amount of online dating resources led to a phenomenon of “dating hyperspace” that is not scrutinized. Rebecca Holman, reporter for the U.K.’s “The Telegraph,” published an article in August 2013, which analyzed her experience with Tinder.
She admitted the app’s potential for becoming a “slightly more sophisticated booty call,” but also pointed out that “we spend all our time running from A to B, telling everyone how busy we are, how swamped we are at work, how little time we have. So maybe Tinder is just the solution to this very modern dilemma. Or maybe in a world where most of our interaction with other human beings is done through a mobile phone or computer, we’ve just found a new why to connect with each other.”
So why is internet dating still considered pathetic or desperate? It earned its reputation as bogus from its instantaneous and artificial nature, not to mention from the number of opportunities for scamming, lies and insincerity it provides. Unfortunately, the high number of date rapes and abductions resulting from internet-arranged dates is a major deterrent for many singles. But the number of online dating success stories is growing daily.
According to Holman, Tinder claims 75 million matches, 50 million of which resulted in engagements.
While online dating websites and apps should be used with discretion (we all know the drill: don’t give your name, address, phone number, etc.), they should not be condemned as inadequate or desperate.
The media has the power to manipulate methods of human interaction; it had this power for hundreds of years, even before the first official “matrimonial agency,” before Facebook and before Tinder.
Online dating sites are not just for creepers, they are legitimate and potentially rewarding opportunities for a romantic connection.