False. Completely, utterly, totally false.
I am a firm believer that it is not ideal when singles meet under manufactured circumstances. I mean, who actually likes the idea of meeting someone on a screen? Where’s that initial excitement? That exchange of glances across the room? I sincerely believe that internet dating has become so popular because people don’t see any other way. But what kind of anthropologist would I be without giving evidence for my conclusions.
Firstly, internet dating objectifies people in order to simplify profiling. It consigns peoples to boxes; boxes that aren’t important when looking for a functional partner. We can only measure things that come in set figures, like height and income. Important traits such as generosity, kindness, curiosity, humour and a sparkle in the eyes cannot be catalogued in cyberspace. Internet dating asks the wrong questions and consequently provides users with the wrong matches.
What’s more, people are more likely to punch above their weight. If you’re average looking with an average job, would you go for the super successful hottie in ‘real life’? Probably not. Well, on internet dating sites, people often pursue those of high desirability rather than those of an equal calibre (Lee, Lowenstein, Ariely, young 2008). Why? Because rejection is muted when it’s coming from a computer, so why not go for the super-hottie?
Secondly, and contrary to popular belief, it is a time waster. A sample of users reported that they spent on average 12 hours a week browsing profiles and responding to messages, resulting in 1.8 hours of face-to-face interaction (Frost, 2008). This is time that could be spent reading, exercising or actually meeting people out in the real world.
Thirdly, the people you meet on internet dating websites, might as well be from the Planet Zerkon. They are complete strangers; you have no mutual connections, and no one has passed the ‘vouched for’ test. Your ex-flatmate is not there to tell you that, “John is a really nice guy, but a bit shy at first.” In fact, meeting someone from online offline, you can’t even be sure his name is John.
Finally, internet couples are the exception, not the rule. It would seem that everyone knows someone who has met online. Ergo, it works! Wrong! This is purely down to sample size. If you have thousands, if not millions, of people on dating sites, there will be some people who find each other. If you throw some mud at the wall, or computer screen, some of it will stick.
But you are not mud. You are fabulous and you should be using those 12 hours a week to go out into the world and show off that sparkle in your eye. And believe me – that will leave time over for a bubble bath. Just remember, real life is where you meet real people and form real relationships.