Online dating: Get with the technological times

Jeff Dunn, Copy Editor
Dating in the digital age is something many people still haven’t fully grasped.
I’m an online dating success story. Well, one half of an online dating success story. My significant other and I met on the online dating site OKCupid more than a year ago.

Online dating has exploded in the past year among college students, as it transitions from the realm of the taboo to a more socially-acceptable practice. Apps and websites such as Tinder, OKCupid, PlentyofFish and more are making dating more accessible than ever.

This was my first encounter with an online dating website, and I’ve got to say, I don’t see where all of the stigma comes from. Many people may be afraid that making an account on one of these websites will make them look desperate, but according to the PEW Research Center, more than 50 percent of Americans agree that online dating is a good way to meet people.

Another issue many people have with online dating is the lack of human interaction. Some might say that the level of personal connection required to form a romantic relationship just isn’t possible to achieve online. The fault here, though, lies with the communicators. If you can’t communicate well in an online setting, then online dating probably isn’t for you (along with many other things our culture has embraced in the digital age).

I’ll be honest. I have a hard time meeting new people. I’ve gone to parties. I’ve made small talk. But I felt like I was always missing connections with people. The stigma of being viewed as desperate by my peers definitely contributed to my initial discomfort with online dating. But, certain aspects did appeal to me.

As a college student, I didn’t have much time to spend meeting people that didn’t go to Pacific Lutheran University. So having the ability to skim a few profiles in my free time at lunch or in between classes was awesome.
Sociology Professor Laura McCloud agreed with my assertion that sometimes compatibility can’t emerge naturally from an “in real life” setting.

“Oftentimes, you do better matching people based on identities or social groupings rather than ‘You like funny movies, my friend likes funny movies, you should get together sometime and see a funny movie,’” McCloud said. “That’s not what compatibility is.”

I also liked the idea of online dating because everyone’s intentions are on their profile (more or less). Typically, what people were looking for was stated right in their profiles. The options on OKCupid range from “New Friends” to “Casual Sex” or “Long-Term Relationship.”
Setting up a profile took some time, but realize that the more time you put into it the better matches you’ll get. OKCupid has a great matching system where you answer specific questions such as “Who are you most likely to reveal your deepest, darkest secret to?” Then, you rate the question on its importance, allowing you to quickly scan potential matches’ profiles for information.
While some dating websites use algorithms to determine compatibility, the dating app Tinder uses only location to filter the results of its users. Then, users swipe left or right on their screens if they see someone they’re interested in.

Tinder has earned a reputation as being a “hook up” app, and it’s often assumed that you won’t be able to find a relationship on Tinder. That mentality definitely won’t lead you to a relationship. You’d be surprised where you end up after taking a genuine interest in people you meet online.

The best part of finding a date online is the accessibility and personalization of the experience. Everyone is looking for something different in a relationship; all OKCupid did for me was match me with someone who was looking for the same thing.

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