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‘Digital get down, just you and me’

By Leah Ruth

Section: Features

March 25, 2011

Photo by Nafiz “Fizz” Ahmed/the Hoot

“I would swim up the Amazon with 45-pound dumbbells tied to my scrotum and Ellen DeGeneres’ queef as my air supply if it meant I could eat a seafood dinner with you over Skype on a dial-up internet connection. Not serious … Kinda serious …” read the message a Brandeis sophomore received on OkCupid, one of many online dating sites that have recently become popular with college students.

She is one of many students who have turned to the Internet to find new people to talk to and potentially date. OkCupid, which markets itself as “the best dating site on Earth,” is one of many online matchmaking sites marketed towards Generation Y that has risen in popularity over the past few years.

Most college students will eventually settle into a committed partnership or marriage, but few are looking for that right now. Instead, many are on dating sites to casually meet people they can chat with and get a laugh out of funny experiences.

Jen Abidor ’11 joined OkCupid at the beginning of the school year mostly as a joke, but she kept in mind that she might meet someone with whom she connected. After a while, though, she became bored and decided that trying to find someone she clicked with wasn’t worth digging through the “creepy” guys that messaged her.

A 2010 survey by Match.com, another dating website, claimed that one in five single people have dated someone they met on a dating site, and one in five people in a newly committed relationship met on a dating site. Despite the rise in use of online dating sites, a stigma still exists, to the point that several students asked that their names not be used in the writing of this article.

The stigma caused one OkCupid user to ask, “why is meeting someone in a bar more legitimate than meeting them online?” But, unfortunately, thinking there shouldn’t be a stigma doesn’t just make it go away.

Online dating has been associated with men and women who are desperate but can’t get a date, people who are trying to make themselves appear better than they are in real life and the Craig’s List killer.

Despite the stigma, online dating is a trend that continues to grow, especially among college-age singles. According to a Pew poll, close to 40 percent of college-age students had signed up at one point for an online dating site.

“I wasn’t expecting to meet someone special when I signed up for OkCupid, but I’ve stumbled over a few that surprised me,” one sophomore said. “I’ve given my number to two guys who I text and talk to on the phone when I have the time. That’s the key to online dating—it works on your schedule,” she said.

“Personally, I’m still not 100 percent comfortable with the idea of online dating … In a few years, though, I think that will change. It’s just another way to put yourself out there … you never know how and when someone special might come along.”

Now, with the permeation of social networking into daily life, online dating provides an alternative for students who don’t have the time to go out and meet new people. Simply by answering a questionnaire, busy students can easily be matched with and communicate with potential romantic interests with the click of a button and a few keystrokes.

“You have to go on OkCupid laughing a bit at yourself and taking everything with a grain of salt,” one sophomore said.

“I’m on it partially for the entertainment. Then, if something good does come of it, all the better—but it’s not an expectation I have.”

Users simply need to remember that finding a soulmate online is just as difficult as it is in real life, and that online safety precautions are extremely important. As long as they remember those two things, there’s no reason for them to be judged.

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