Hot off the press! (OK, it was released March 5, but close enough, right?). Pew Internet and American Life release a report on online dating:
Although this study polled adults, it’s got some interesting tidbits on the online world’s perception about meeting people online. What it points out is a bit of paradoxical thinking.
About a third of respondents know someone who has used online dating — only 10% have copped to it themselves.
Two thirds say that internet dating is dangerous.
Half agree that a lot of people lie about their marital status online
Most (61%) say that the internet is not a “last resort” way to find romance
Or maybe this isn’t so much paradoxical as it is an example of how the public isn’t really sure what to think of all of this. They know people who use the service, but they think it is dangerous and a place of deceit — yet it’s not a “desperate” way to find love, just an alternative way.
Not surprisingly, younger people are more likely to use online dating than older people by about two-fold (10% vs almost 20%). So, the idea of making first contact onlne is becoming more common and seems to be more accepted among younger adults (under 30).
What was surprising to me was this stat: 45% of “single and looking” online users think internet dating is easier than looking IRL, but 45% don’t think it is any easier. I would love to know why. Is it because people thought it would be a piece of cake and realized it takes effort? Did people not really think about what it would be like to be attracted to someone in the cyberworld and then potentially make the leap into the world of the physical?
I know a lot of people who have tried the online dating scene. I did so myself, and dated someone I first met online for about a year. But I have also known friends who have horror stories. Not the kind that make the papers, but I know about times when dates show up hammered and beligerent, dates who don’t know when the evening is not going well and will not leave. But I am not sure how these situations are unique to online dating. My hunch is that they are not and that, unfortunately, these things happen on dates in general.
I hope I don’t sound like a Johnny One-Note, but to me a lot of this comes back to fear of the unknown. We don’t get internet dating, don’t understand the cyber-social world, so it becomes a bad and scary place.
I just wish some of these studies would actually compare online to IRL instead of giving us numbers in a vaccuum.