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A new book by journalist Dan Slater, , explores the past and present of online dating: “the industry’s rise from ignominy to ubiquity.” Through a series of historical anecdotes and stories—including his own and those of his parents, who met in one of the first computer matchmaking experiments—he paints a broad picture of how the internet has changed the way we date and mate. Census data from 2010 showed that 39 percent of all Americans believe marriage is becoming obsolete,” Slater writes. Slater quotes a number of stats from Ok Trends, the short-lived blog about Ok Cupid directed by one of the site’s cofounders, Christian Rudder.
The fundamental selling point of online dating is that no one wants to be alone, and even cold-hearted skeptics secretly want true love. “Yet 47 percent of the unmarried adults who believe marriage is becoming obsolete say they would like to marry someday.” The point is tucked into a footnote, but more should probably have been made of it. You can be a closet swinger, an out-of-closet deviant, or a U. I underlined this one several times: “A woman’s desirability, measured in messages received, peaks at age twenty-one.
The difference highlights the limitations of this modern mechanism for a timeless trouble.Whether it’s yet another style-section trend piece or a shame-tinged confession that we’ve signed up for Match.com, we have yet to get collectively comfortable with the idea of looking for love online. These portals not only present the whole human grid of desire and stimulation but make that grid real and attainable, nonvirtual, bounded only by the limitations of curiosity and imagination,” Slater writes in his chapter about the proliferation of niche dating sites. Online dating lays bare the sexual economy in which some people (namely tall, white, wealthy men) are guaranteed winners, and others (black women, older women, short men, fat people of all genders) have a tougher time.Although 30 million have dabbled with online dating, that number is surprisingly low for something that ten years ago was supposed to be a “fixture” of singledom. Perhaps decades of Hollywood plotlines that have programmed us to look for love at the crowded party or the local dog park have dampened the thrill of finding a perfect match with a few keystrokes. While it’s true that these dynamics exist offline, too, online dating makes it easy to eliminate whole categories of people by checking a few boxes.Then I could build a super profile—a sort of amalgam of the popular girls and my own data.” Her self-presentation is not quite as creepy as it sounds, though the takeaway is still disappointing for those of us who are averse to putting a PR-style gloss on our personality: To get what she wants, even the most charming, educated, successful woman must massage her assets to be appealing within the peculiar ecosystem of dating sites.And so what follows is a makeover montage from a rom-com: Webb working out. Webb retooling her profile to be vaguer and friendlier.” as if it’s a home remedy to be applied to a pesky rash—never mind that I wasn’t even scratching.