January 13, 2015

Article: Nowhere Men

Marc Esadrian

“—No! this face is only a mask,
A wicked ornament,
Illuminated by an exquisite grimace.
Look and see, atrociously contorted,
The real head, and the sincere face
Turned back under the shadow
Of the face which lies.”

—Charles Baudelaire

When the Internet started gaining critical mass in 1998, a new era had dawned upon human beings: for the first time in history, scores of people could link anonymously to each other through shared interests online and it was not long before the notion of finding mates through this portal was explored by the most daring of pioneers. At first, the idea of finding a significant other through a computer network was dismissed as the province of techies and cloistered social dysfunctionals. Fast-forwarding another decade would prove that stigma to be entirely removed. Within the span of a handful of years, Internet dating had not only shuffled off its disreputable image, but became the norm.

Today, people have access to a vast pool of potential suitors they would never have been able to reach with slow and short-ranged traditional methods. In the digital sphere, powerful search tools augment the predictive match of strangers online across a wide collection of matchmaking sites. The “science” of this matchmaking may not be all that provable, and, currently, the success rate is under pretty strong contention. One study claims that marriages resulting from online first-encounters are more successful than marriages that began in traditional offline venues.1 Yet another goes on to completely contradict that finding and determines that break-ups happen more frequently with online dating.2 Whatever the true success story of online courting turns out to be, the fact that that the Internet is widely used to find significant others is irrefutable in that it is so deeply embedded in our tech-laden culture. This is not to say that finding romantic interests online is easy, by any stretch of the imagination. The effort usually takes a tremendous amount of time and patience (if not money) while sifting through inactive member profiles and incompatible matches. Worst of all are the shady hoaxes and online romance scams one may encounter on slick matchmaking sites. To put that problem in a little more perspective, a British Study in 2012 estimated that 230,000 people were successfully duped by Internet predators feigning love interest, and the crimes, involving money in some shape or form, cost England nearly $60 billion a year.3 In America, digital romance scams have become so widespread that the FBI released a cautionary press report on the matter.4

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