There was a day when Internet socialization was reserved for those who played Dungeons and Dragons in their parents’ basement. That day is no more.
Not only are we in an age where Internet dating and fraternization is more socially acceptable, but it has now become mainstream.
It is nearly impossible to turn on the television today without seeing the success stories of couples that found their love match through online dating services. Match.com, Yahoo! Personals, and eHarmony.com have all extended their campaigns in the past year and lonely lovers are responding. The online dating industry reported a 17 percent increase in 2004 and has become so popular that there is now even a magazine especially devoted to it.
America seems to have embraced the concept of Internet dating, as people find their busy lifestyles no longer accommodate singles night at the bar. This even holds true for college students at peak age for the singling and mingling scene. Students may be too exhausted to get out there and do things the old fashioned way, and when one has the novelty of unlimited Internet access, the online alternative seems perfectly suitable.
The online dating industry has recently expanded so much that there are even services specific to social groups, religion and lifestyle choices. For example, popular around campuses and nationwide is J-Date, an online Jewish dating community. The site allows users to find their soul mate by giving them access to others with the same religious background and interests, narrowing down what traditional daters find as a typically exhausting hit or miss process.
Laugh at me now, and know that it took lots of convincing, but after years of coaxing I finally support this idea of meeting others through the Web. The usual paranoia about safety still surfaces, but it’s consoling to know that most major meet-and-greet Web sites take special care to keep the safety and anonymity of its users secure.
Keep in mind that users must always be careful and are responsible for screening their own potential dates. There is always a risk involved, however, so giving out home addresses, phone numbers, or meeting in a dark alley should be avoided at any cost.
Students are not just turning to the Internet for dating, but also as a means of putting themselves out there and making friends. I’ve been asked several times, “Hey are you on Thefacebook?” At first I had no idea what this “Thefacebook” was, but upon further exploration, the idea of a Web site that serves as a meeting ground for college students did not seem all that bad. A substantial number of U.S. colleges are already on Thefacebook, giving users the opportunity to not only meet people from other schools, but also break the ice with students they see strolling down Liacouras Walk.
For those who would rather learn in class than socialize, Thefacebook and other Internet dating sites give students a way to meet people without sacrificing their education or wasting precious time.
That said, I’m not encouraging anybody to be antisocial. It is healthy to meet new people, but sometimes, with an overbooked class schedule and work, finding a soul mate can make your stomach hurl rather than flutter.
So how would you like to meet your one true love in your spare time? Maybe earn your degree while you’re at it? The Internet has made so many of life’s chores easier for the busy student, including love.
Jacqueline D’Ercole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.