Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cyber Dating for the College Student


            Since when did online dating in college become a thing? I guess I missed the boat. After hearing about it incessantly from friends, from acquaintances, and in online posts, I decided to do some investigating of my own. I dug deeper for an article in my journalism class. It was funny, I thought, a thing my friends did as kind of a joke, something silly they did in their spare time. Tinder, OkCupid, DateMySchool; I’d heard of people that had tried them, but usually as somewhat of a social experiment, just to see what would happen. But it turns out the joke was on me. My friends were actually using social media sites in place of more “traditional” tactics of finding dates. As I searched for sources to write about, people seemed to come out of the woodwork. Some of my friends had been on several successful dates through apps you could download on your phone, others had even found a significant other. They were shocked I hadn’t done the same. Was I missing something?

            According to a 2006 study by the Pew Internet ad American Life Project, one in ten Internet users have tried online dating. And that was in 2006. The Internet and reach of online dating has exploded since then. In the past few years, dating sites specifically designed for college-aged students have popped up all over the place. These sites, which are easily accessible through the app store and can connect to your various social media platforms, attract a younger audience than E-Harmony or Match.com, where most users are over the age of 30. DateMySchool even claims that it has been responsible for 50% of dates at NYU alone.
            So am I the wrong? Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always searched for dates through friends-of-friends, maybe someone I met at a school club or on a Friday night out. But online dating? I’d always thought it was for the washed up, for those who couldn’t find dates on their own. But suddenly, I’m in the minority.
            But the traditional tactic has always worked for someone like me. I’m a hater of awkward silences. Getting to know someone is usually something I avoid; I prefer to spend time learning more about people I already know. So what could sites like these do for me? Send me on a handful of dates every month, one of which might actually go somewhere? No thanks. Sure, it took two years of wading through seemingly straight gay men at NYU to find a few datable keepers, but I did it. It seems to me that traditional dating, despite what my friends might think, is still alive and well. So maybe I’m not “trendy” when it comes to dating, but I’m doing alright. 
            Perhaps it’s a matter of deciding which dater you are. Are you a serial dater, one who would go to a hundred dinners just to enjoy one? Then Tinder’s the place for you. Maybe you’re introverted, busy, spend a lot of time with the same people, but you don’t want to go on dates by the handful. Perhaps a site like OkCupid or DateMySchool, echoing a traditional pairing based on mutual interests and likes, is the place to be. Or maybe you’re like me. You’d rather wait around and enjoy the single life until someone comes to you, preferring to leave the hard work of courting up to someone else. Then, be prepared to wait a while, but stick to your guns. I did. 

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