The history of online dating is an interesting one. From a personal point of view, I’ve been online since the screen was black and the text green, when there were no graphics and it was all DOS. The moment people could send their desires and quests across the great digital ether, they have looked for all types of information and much of it has been sexual.
During those first days of the internet, when a friend in New York said I should get a modem and I had to ask what that was, there weren’t many people or groups online. In fact, I went online to do research for writing and I would shout into that big black hole, hoping for an answer from who knows where. Chat groups began to appear but it was like a quest with a blindfold on to find them. The local internet service provider (ISP) in Vancouver was also the only one: mindlink. When I went online I would see a list of all the users, no more than 20 in Vancouver. Yes, it was that small. Anyone on the ISP could instant chat with anyone else. There were a few chat rooms but this was outside of the rooms. Right away (being one of very few women) I would get people asking how old I was, was I single, etc. Then there would be the inevitable request for “hot chat.” Bear in mind that I’m a writer, and I could hot chat anyone up to probably a good time, but really, it’s rare that hot chat would work for me. Besides, I didn’t know if this was a 14-year-old guy or some creepy decrepit pervert. I just wasn’t interested.
Then the internet blossomed with chat rooms and minimal graphics and about 90% of all chat sites were sexually oriented, one way or another. Bulletin Boards (BBS) came about but I never went through that maze. Lavalife came along, which was actually phone personals at first. I tried that for a while and at least you could listen to a person’s voice but there were some crazy ranters on there with issues. I dropped off, then I got on the internet Lavalife but it was not a great site for me. No matter what you put in your profile it seemed no one read it and still wanted to “hook up” for the evening. I also got stood up more times than I ever have in my life. Although I have friends who met and married off of Lavalife, I compared it to boys in a candy shop with too many choices to make a decision. I left.
I already posted about Plenty of Fish. I think I tried eHarmony for a month but at $30/month for about the same results. I’m a little too creative for many of these sites and don’t have the patience. These days, there is a plethora of places for dating, for hooking up, for long term fun. OKCupid blends friendship and dating and I have made friends on that site. There are a variety of styles and predilections, but I think with all the instant media we’re forgetting how to interact with a live person. We let Hallmark tell us that to love someone we just say it on Valentine’s Day, we give pre-prescribed candies and flowers, and that will be enough. You can try to sugar coat a relationship, put up pretty pictures, and write flattering partial truths, but the true taste of the heart (or pudding) is in the tasting. If we just got out there and socialized more, didn’t expect instant gratification, and slowed things down we might find that a relationship is worth doing and more rewarding than a thousand Facebook friends.