Online dating was once thought to be left for the creepy, unattractive, and all those who were unable to meet people in the “real world”. That day is gone, currently in the U.S. alone, 10,000 people are trying to find dates online everyday (Epstein, p.1, 2007). It appears that in our modern era, the convenience of online dating allows people to test the waters, without giving a time or monetary commitment. While a variety of online dating services charge money, for the purposes of this essay I looked to Craigslist, which is completely free. I created a personal ad under the men interested in women categories, which can be seen here http://detroit.craigslist.org/m4w/1183574752.html . I will discuss my experiences, the benefits, and disadvantages of using Craigslist as means of online dating.
Due to the boom in popularity of online dating, the entire process is subject to great deception. Survey research conducted by media researcher Jeana Frost of Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that about 20 percent of online daters admit to deception. If you ask them how many other people are lying, however–an interviewing tactic that probably gets closer to the truth–that number jumps to 90 percent (Epstein, p.1) Over the period of one week, I received approximately 15 responses, half of which I would say are real. The other half were essentially advertisements, invites to chat to women through a third party online dating/sex service that required signup, and credit card payment. After the first few of these responses, it became very clear as to which ones were real, or fake based simply on wordage. To digress, in my preliminary research it appeared that of lets say 50 listings, only 10 had pictures. Despite peoples effort to find a date on the internet, it still appears many people are unwilling to surrender their picture until after they have yours, or if you specifically ask for it an ad. As you can see, my ad features a few pictures, and brief description of my self.
Amongst the handful of legitimate responses, there were two girls that I had active conversations with via text/ email, and have not yet, but could potentially have plans with. I believe it would be very frustrating for individuals seeking a serious relationship via Craigslist, but not impossible. More and more people are sick of the bar scene, assholes, and people simply looking to get laid. The online dating forum provides people a chance to crash into some people they probably otherwise wouldn’t have. For men, the major areas of deception are educational level, income, height, age and marital status; at least 13 percent of online male suitors are thought to be married (Epstein, p.1). For women, the major areas of deception are weight, physical appearance and age. All of the relevant research shows the importance of physical appearance for both sexes, and online daters interpret the absence of photos negatively (Epstein, p.1). According to one recent survey, men’s profiles without photos draw one fourth the response of those with photos, and women’s profiles without photos draw only one sixth the response of those with photos (Epstein, p.1).
Social network sites have undoubtedly made the online dating scene more socially acceptable, safe, and realistic. If someone responds to an email, their registered name usually appears within the context of the email, and can easily be searched in Facebook. While not everyone is on Facebook, most people are these days, providing an in depth view into photo albums. I believe this can help stray away from deception within online dating.
Overall, it was a positive experience, as I accomplished what I sought, first hand knowledge of an online dating forum. Craigslist is free, easy to use, and just as much b.s. as you’d expect.
Epstein, Robert. “The Truth about Online Dating”. Feb 2007. The Scientific
American Mind. Retrieved Friday, May 29, 2009 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-truth-about-online-da