Arts & Culture / Mosaic / January 20, 2011

Bit, Byte & Handle: Looking for love online

Yesterday I did something I thought I would never do: I signed up for an online dating site. With our generation becoming increasingly immersed in a digital world, more people have turned to online dating sites in order to find love and have relationships.

In a 2008 press release, dating site eHarmony.com said it accounted for “more than two percent of all new marriages in the U.S.” and that “on average, 236 eHarmony members marry every day.” Despite these surveys and press releases, it is hard to believe that online dating could have such an impact on one’s love life. As a self-professed cynic, I have to question, is it really possible to find someone through a dating site and have a relationship?

Part impulse, part debate

It started with a conversation I had with one of my friends during the weekend. We were talking about past relationships and it shifted to dating at Knox. My friend lamented the lack of available guys on campus. Soon she followed it up by saying she had a dating profile. I was surprised to hear this, definitely not expecting her to have one. No one I knew, until then, had an online profile.

When I would see TV commercials for sites like eHarmony or match.com. I would shake my head, thinking the couples featured were just actors paid to spend a few awkward hours next to each other, faking their closeness. Seeing my reaction to her statement, she then brought up how one of her friends found her boyfriend through a dating site. I replied, “I could never join an online dating site.” I was wrong.

Through a decision that was part impulse and part debate, I decided to join an online dating site. I’m curious to see what will happen. In an age where our communication with people is so dependent on wires and wireless, where we are tethered to technology as much as, if not more than, we are to each other in real life, can someone so cynical find love on the Internet, especially when I can barely believe in the very word “love”? To me, an online relationship is just not realistic. It’s just not possible. Or is it?

The first hurdle: setting up a dating profile

After choosing a dating site, zoosk.com, I had the task of setting up and completing my online dating profile. It took much longer than I thought and, I admit, I ended up yelling at my computer out of frustration—then laughing about it. It was just so weird. I could not believe I was doing this.

On the form to sign up for this dating site, I had to list my basic info: name, birthday, height, sex, sexual orientation, etc. I laughed when the default option for the info for “Previous Marriage” is “tell you later.” I probably shouldn’t have. I wasn’t allowed to leave anything on the info page blank. Apparently dating sites are wedded to pop-ups because there were at least two of them when I was trying to make a profile. After entering my location, I was directed to the “About You” page—the hardest part of the whole thing. It brought me back to those essays you had to write about yourself when applying to colleges—those dreaded personal statements. I hate talking about myself. There were facepalms galore in this section.

But I got through the first part of this “About You” section by vaguely describing where I have lived, my academic interests (social sciences, humanities) and the things I do for fun (write, read, listen to, play and compose music). On to the next question: “Your perfect match. What do you look for?” Cue the yell of frustration. Once again, after much thought, I said, “A person who is considerate of other people, could hold a serious conversation but doesn’t take himself too seriously and has creative outlets.” Though it does not sound like the most original “perfect match” description because I just wanted to get that over with, it was honest.

Icebreaker: “Who’s your favorite Muppet?”

Next was choosing the music (e.g. Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, dredg, Explosions in the Sky), movies (“Amelie,” “Dark City,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and books (“Animal Farm,” “The Conquest,” “Walden”) I liked. Finally, a section I could handle. People could also list TV shows and other things but I did not bother. The last part of setting up the profile is listing questions people looking at your profile might answer. Some icebreaker questions suggested were bizarre and funny (“Describe your fighting style …Who’s your favorite Muppet?”). I was tempted to pick the question “Do you think Americans really landed on the moon?” in order to weed out the weirdos, but I picked some reasonable questions: “Have you ever been in a food fight? What was/would be your food-weapon of choice?” because it was hilarious, and “Has any book or movie made an impact on you?” because I’m interested to hear the answers.

My photo is chosen. My profile is set up. What will happen while I have this online dating profile? Stay tuned for next week’s article.

Sheena Leano


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