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Annals of Online Dating
Published on August 8, 2011 by Sara Foss

In recent years, online dating has become normalized. Most single people are doing it, or have done it, at one point or another. Recently, there's been a spate of interesting articles/essays on online dating.

My favorite, titled "Online Dating Is Eroding Humanity," appeared in Comment is Free. In it, author John Walters suggests that online dating is fast turning love and relationships into just another commodity.

Here's an excerpt:

"Online matchmaking is premised on the notion of making rational choices. It is perhaps fitting that the language of economics and business has finally – in our late capitalist society – permeated the most irrational, the most human of all areas: the interpersonal. Internet dating is like shopping at LoveMart. We watch and read the adverts (people's profiles) and – based on what we are told is factually relevant data – we then, allegedly, make a rational decision to try the product. The more choices available (ie the more popular a matchmaking website), we are told, the better for those making the choice. Yet it is these intrusions by business speak into the very inner workings of society that should be of great concern.

This is further emphasised by the manner in which these processes are explained by proponents of online dating, as "opening up options" and "putting yourself out there". One site, match.com, offers both efficiency ("Receive your compatible matches straight away") and informed choice ("Choose who you'd like to get in touch with"). The irrational and unpredictable nature of something very human – love and the interpersonal – is turned on its head and transformed into a rational product."

Also fairly recently, The New Yorker's Nick Paumgarten examined the phenomenon of online dating; his piece focused more closely on how the sites work, how the stigma of online dating has mostly gone away and what motivates people (particularly women) to try online dating.

And this piece in Slate took a look at how Match.com, the most popular online dating site, works.

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