Removing the Stigma of Online Dating

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Removing the Stigma of Online Dating
Information Technology in Society CSOC 880-1
Online dating as a form of social networking has become a commonplace and acceptable method of meeting potential partners. Until recently, individuals who met dates online were viewed by society as desperate, social misfits. Traditional dating methods include meeting people through friends, face-to-face encounters, at bars or work. More recently, sites such as Lavalife, Zoosk, Facebook, E-Harmony and Plenty of Fish enable individuals to connect with the potential to develop different types of relationships if desired. This paper will discuss how online dating enables people to reach a much more global market and encourages participants to express a higher level of comfort and honesty in communicating. It will further support the use of online dating sites as a safer, faster and more preferable way for people to meet than former traditional dating methods. “Online dating or Internet dating is a dating system which allows individuals, couples and groups to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet, usually with the objective a personal romantic or sexual relationship” (Wikipedia p.1, 2010). The days of meeting your love partner by fate are gone. Potential love or lust seekers can search throughout the globe on the internet to select from a larger herd of cattle. This is a far larger group than most individuals will ever meet in person. To illustrate, 77 percent of adults in Canada are internet users, 90 percent of 18-29 year olds use the internet and Facebook currently clocked in at more than 350 million active users (Foster, Francescucci, & West, 2010). This portrays just how popular social networking has become in society. “The U.S. online dating market is expected to increase spending to $932 million in 2011” (Wikipedia p.2, 2010). There are unlimited choices and an increased possibility of meeting that special someone who reflects the desired attributes. The online dating pool, which is driven by the Internet, is sometimes referred to as “The Global Village” (Jerin & Dolinsky, 2001). Traditional forms of dating offered less choice, fewer encounters, and limited desirable variables such as race, sex, preference, age and location to name a few. Online dating will continue to evolve. “Unlike face to face relationships that are typically initiated based upon physical attractiveness and spatial proximity, on line dating allows individuals to talk and truly get to know each other’s backgrounds, opinions and life goals prior to deciding whether to meet each other (Jerin & Dolinsky, p.15, 2001). This is opposite to traditional dating as “individuals get to know each other first and then later discover whether there is a physical attraction” (Jerin & Dolinsky, p.15, 2001). Online dating sites allow several different modes of communication to promote honesty such as text, pictures, video and live chat. Meeting in a bar, there is no guarantee that the person is honest as they can lie about marital status, age, salary, occupation or criminal past. “If participants aspire to an intimate relationship, their desire to feel understood by their interaction partners will motivate self-disclosures that are open and honest as opposed to deceptive” (Ellison, Heino & Gibbs, p. 4, 2006). Developing an online relationship is best portrayed using the Social Penetration Theory, which incorporates the onion analogy. In this theory, closeness builds with gradual self-disclosure through computer-mediated communication. “The closeness moves from superficial to intimate levels of exchange with the participants proceeding in a gradual and orderly fashion” (Wikipedia, social penetration theory, p.1) The Social Penetration Theory suggests that there is a relationship between self-disclosure online and relationship satisfaction. Disclosure intimacy is one of the key...
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