Online dating: An easy way-out of singledom?
Recently, in his own blog, Christian Rudder, one of the founders of OK Cupid made the following admission: "…OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website. It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something."
He is absolutely right: none of the websites in the rapidly spreading online dating industry knows what they’re doing. Most of them are created by entrepreneurs who saw a need in the market place and decided it would be a good idea to give single people the tools to 'meet each other.' The reality is, the same people would just as well have created dating sites that match farmers with cattle or sell artificial snow to the Kalahari Bushmen if the demand was as high.
Gary Kremen was an engineer and entrepreneur when he launched Match.com. Shayan Zadeh worked at Microsoft and his partner, Alex Mehr, at NASA before founding Zoosk.com. Joe Shapira flipped real estate before launching JDate.com. The same Joe Shapira, incidentally, started Spark Networks, which owns ChristianMingle.com. None of these individuals had a hand in matchmaking. Not to take away from their brilliant entrepreneurial skills, but love is not the business they’re in.
To be fair, all of these sites do provide forums where people can introduce themselves to each other. I can absolutely see how someone, who lives in the mountains of Wyoming where his nearest neighbor is ten miles away, can use an online service to locate a potential love interest. Unfortunately, many online dating site users live in densely populated urban areas and use online dating much like we use online shopping: yes we could get dressed and go to the grocery store, but why bother when Fresh Direct can deliver the produce directly to us? It’s ok that we won’t be able to smell the fruit or see the fish before we buy it. As long as we don’t have to work to obtain it, we will settle for vegetables less than fresh or soup less than hot.
Regrettably, apathy is only part of the problem. Many people hide behind online dating because dating in person makes them uncomfortable. It is a lot easier to be enticing and witty when typing long-winded love letters to a virtual girlfriend. It takes more effort to attract a woman in person. To do that, one has to leave the house, for starters. You have to put thought into getting dressed and choosing a place to meet. You then have to keep up a conversation without the use of an online thesaurus or witty Wikipedia references. Instead of fixing what’s really broken (themselves), many of these folks do what most of us in our society do: we take the quickest and easiest way out. If you are overweight, yes, you can diet and exercise. But a diet pill promises to get you to your goal weight quicker and much much easier than a disciplined regimen.
That’s what online dating has become for us: a diet pill. I have met many people who carried on online romances for months or even years without once meeting in person. Just like many other things in our lives, these virtual romances become temporary patches to a very serious and long-lasting condition: loneliness. Sadly, while patches are being applied, time goes by and the real issue remains untreated and often not even addressed.
So what is the solution? Where does one find a soul-mate or at least a date, to start with? In reality, the solution is a lot less complicated than many people realize. Think Albert Einstein, who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If your goal for the last five years has been to find a husband, yet you still remain single, does it mean that there is something wrong with every man out there? Absolutely not. It means that whatever you have been doing is not working and it is time to rethink your strategy. If your profile has been on five different dating sites for four years and yet you’re still single, online dating is clearly not working for you. Perhaps it’s time to take your dating offline and get out into the real world: that’s where the real people are.