Pixelated Love: Online dating loses stigma as its practicality is realized

In Columns, Features
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Online dating was once considered a last resort. However, many more people are starting to use this service as a more practical attitude towards romance prevails.
(Photo Illustration by Patrick Do / Daily Titan)

Last week, I started a discussion about the way modern technology affects romantic relationships. Of course, the first step to having a relationship that is affected by modern technology is to be in a relationship. The way we do that has changed with the times.

When I was a kid, I remember there was a big stigma around online dating. It was sad to think that people had to resort to it, and no one wanted to admit if they had.

Now, it’s widely accepted as one of the most practical ways to meet a partner. In 2002, Rufus Griscom wrote an article for Wired magazine about the rise of online dating that said, “20 years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because the right books are found only by accident.”

Fourteen years later, it already seems like he’s right. Why has online dating become so huge? Millennials are often seen as overtly cynical, but it’s not without good reason.

As Jessica Bennett pointed out in a Time magazine article, we’re just looking at the world around us.

“We are a generation raised on a wedding industry that could fund a small nation, but marriages that end before the ink has dried,” she said.

Knowing how often marriages end in divorce, how expensive a divorce can be (the average cost in California is $15,000 to $20,000 per person, according to Justia.com), it makes sense to me that millennials want to be as cautious as possible when approaching relationships.

Now that there is technology that can find the person that is the most compatible for us and it effectively does all the sifting through subpar suitors and fruitless first dates, the mindset of many millennials seems to be, “Well, why not?”

Some see the millennial generation as a group that only engages in meaningless hookups, and see the online dating culture as shallow. I would say that online dating sites make the idea of settling down with someone a lot less scary, because the sites handpick the optimal partner for someone.

My best friend growing up had an older brother who was a notorious “player.” He used to proudly tell everyone about all of the girls he hooked up with. But a funny thing happened. As my best friend and I made our way through high school and started college, we watched her older brother make his way through his 20s and start to grow tired of the lifestyle he’d been so proud of.

He turned to online dating in order to find a girl with whom he was genuinely compatible, but was still in her early 20s and still really hot. The cool thing about online dating is you can try to have it all, or at least ask for it all.

It wasn’t long before he met someone he truly liked, and who was still in her early 20s and still really hot.

Two weeks ago, they climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro together and he asked her to marry him, and she accepted.

The stigmas surrounding online dating are still being shed. Some might say that meeting in an online forum takes the romance out of love. But, after being cautious about online dating at first, millennials seem to increasingly have a mindset that nothing could be more romantic than finding a solid match, which might even lead to a successful marriage.
To be fair, I’ve never actually used an online dating site myself, and I think part of me — and part of many of my peers — still wants to believe in love as a magical, ethereal hand that comes down from the sky and brings two people together. However, magical hands from the sky don’t seem so romantic for someone in the middle of a divorce, or even in the middle of a bad first date. For millennials, romanticism has made a shift from fairy tale circumstances to practicality and realism.

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