What is Internet Dating?
Internet dating, often referred to as online dating, is a matchmaking system which allows people to interact with others over the internet. The main objective of this system is to form either a romantic or sexual relationship. The matchmaking that takes place over the internet is unmoderated, meaning it is done through personal computers and cell phones. In most cases, any prospective internet dater must provide personal information before he can search the databases of others. Once a person has provided personal information, they usually go on to upload pictures and browse the photos and provided information of others. Some internet dating sites include features such as webcasts, online chatting, telephone chatting, and message boards.
The History of Internet Dating
Internet dating has been around since the internet became accessible. From the start, companies like Prodigy and America Online offered chat rooms and forums for single individuals. These features were advertised a lot and became very popular. Therefore, as the world wide web became more and more popular, so did the internet dating culture.
The first significant dating website is thought to be kiss.com, followed by match.com. Both sites were registered by the same person in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Of course there were many other sites, but most of those websites focused on international dating and communication. After the rise in popularity of kiss.com and match.com, the market for internet dating exploded. By 1996, there were about 16 internet dating websites listed in Yahoo! Big companies like ticketmaster began to acquire websites like the previously mentioned, match.com, which caused important internet participants like AOL to focus more on their personal dating section. Those big names were starting to see just how popular and frequently used internet dating was becoming.
In 2002 when the world experienced a dot com crash, dating sites surprisingly did not suffer. This is because the change that hit internet dating instead came from the launch of sites like friendster and myspace. Social networking was taking over the internet, therefore making online dating a byproduct of its success. At the end f November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites established. Furthermore, in 2007, Americans spent over $500 million on internet dating, making its industry the second highest industry for "paid content"on the web, behind pornography.
The Present State of Internet Dating
Currently, there are online dating sites made for practically every major city, religion, race, interest, sexual orientation, and relationship preference. As a result, nearly 20 million people visit at least one internet dating site every month and over 120,000 marriages every year take place due to online dating.
Problems With Internet Dating
Despite its obvious benefits, there have been quite a few problems with Internet dating. The most apparent problem with internet dating is that people lie, and the internet often makes it difficult to unmask the truth. There is no way to force someone to put a picture of what they really look like on their profile. This also goes for their interests, hobbies, and details of their personal life. In this respect, internet dating can be somewhat dangerous because of internet predators and internet fraud.
Another problem that is less daunting, is that certain sites expect members to submit payment before they get a chance to see what they are paying for. There have also been complaints about billing practices and confusion about trial periods.
The Future of Internet Dating
The stigma of internet dating is starting to disappear as it becomes increasingly more common for individuals to use an internet dating site. The sites that are thriving, and who are speculated to continue to succeed, are those that focus on a very specific concentration. For example, a site that specifically allows people of a certain sexual orientation might be more likely to thrive because it makes it easier for people to understand what they are looking for, rather than having them weed out so many possibilities before getting results. With this said, general interest dating sites such as eharmony or match.com are still continuing to do well. They however, run the risk of being replaced by social networking sites like facebook. Despite the risks and few problems with online dating, it is here to stay. Finding one's significant other through the internet is no longer the rare, frowned upon, occurance that it once was.