Brandon Baker: Use of online dating sites makes ritual less romantic

Columnist Brandon Baker asks why people turn to dating sites. The other day, as I waited for my northbound train to arrive and take me to the wonderful world of Temple, my eye caught a

Columnist Brandon Baker asks why people turn to dating sites.

The other day, as I waited for my northbound train to arrive and take me to the wonderful world of Temple, my eye caught a noticeably attractive, red-headed tourist sitting down beside me with her hands full of shopping bags and a cup of Starbucks coffee. She then turned to look behind her and knocked her coffee off of the bench she had just placed it on, proceeding to let out a giggle that emanated a ray of both innocence and flirtation.
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In response, I couldn’t help but turn my head and smile at her, as we both made eye contact. It was precisely like a scene you would see from a cheesy Jennifer Anniston romantic comedy. Had it not been for the fact that I very confidently bat for the other team, I probably would have pursued the opportunity (and to be honest, I did check out Craigslist’s “missed connections” section later, just out of pure curiosity).

On my way back to Main Campus following the incident, I couldn’t help but contemplate why these sorts of things never actually work out like they do in the movies. What happened to the idea of meeting someone after accidentally spilling coffee on them, flirting with someone after they let you cut in line at the grocery store, or thanking someone a little too gratefully who offered to carry your heavy items as you were walking to your car?

Maybe I am a hopeless, delusional romantic, and these things never really happened at all. But either way, it seems to indicate one thing for certain: chivalry is dead.

I grow tired of seeing commercials in between my “American Idol” viewings for and http// (especially the latter) who will also famously tout that one-out-of-every-five Americans are in a relationship stemming from online matchmakers. But really, they have all but killed the fun of dating and relationships.

Now, I can’t act too sanctimonious when it comes to this subject. After all, I’d like to call out anyone in the GLBT community who says they don’t have an OkCupid or Grindr account.

But why do gay men and women in particular rely so heavily on online dating to find their partners?

Call me crazy, but today’s standards for dating just, well, suck. Nothing about it is practical in the slightest, despite what we may think.

Dating, which was once something fun and romantic, has been turned into something comparable to a shopping trip. You go to the clubs, the bars and the Internet to seek out that guy or gal who you think fits your “image” ­– if they don’t match up to exactly what you expect, you skip out on them.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of good dates stemming from the Internet, but it’s completely changed the dynamics of dating in the worst way possible. Rather than putting emphasis on the happenings of a date, or an individual’s character and morals, we seem to put more value on the text messages (and their frequency) leading up to the date, in addition to any other superficial, taboo act that may occur beforehand.

Phone calls have been eliminated, romance has died and “love” is just a funny afterthought to the inevitable hookup. And I’m not just targeting the GLBT community here, either.

Ladies and gents, I believe it’s time that we re-define “putting yourself out there” once more. I challenge you to leave your dating website accounts behind, even if just for a little while, and test your strength in pursuing that next person you make eye contact with while on the bus or sitting in a coffee shop.

After all, who wants to tell their grandchildren that they met their spouse on Grindr?

Brandon Baker can be reached at


  1. Common man – people get on dating sites because they wanna have sex. for instance look at the new start up – soon it will rival these sites and give what the end user really wants. The honest gold of the final goal – getting there goodies. Your opinion on ruining the fun is your “end-user” need which is the chase. Your goal is the same, but people get lazy and the user in the 21st century doesn’t want to head down to the mall, church, bars to get a piece of ass. Its all about thinking like the user and what they want – which match and eharmony sites do.

  2. I hear ya, Brandon! Granted, I’m rather obsessed with online dating myself but I will say that I’ve met several EXTREMELY chivalrous men as a result. Of course, being a hopeless romantic, I would rather meet them through “traditional” means (ie. accidentally or not-so-accidentally spilling my coffee on them) but it seems like everything (even dating) is going digital these days…

    Great column!

  3. Great article! You should always be concerned when going on a date, and it dosen’t matter if you met them through an online dating service or at a bar. offers a free dating safety tool, that monitors and confirms your safe arrival home. The founder is a police detective and he offers valuable dating safety tips to follow

  4. 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.

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