No longer are the days of Internet dating being reserved exclusively for losers, misfits, freaks or geeks. With few taking notice, Internet dating has skyrocketed into a multi-billion dollar industry and has fundamentally altered the dating landscape for everybody. When an estimated 40 million people in the U.S. have tried online dating at least once, it’s important to realize that this is more than a quirky trend; online dating is the new paradigm shift in relationships for our interconnected generation, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Still, it can be difficult to shake off the image of nerdy, pasty, glasses-endowed Kip from "Napoleon Dynamite" sitting at his computer, “chatting with babes all day,” instead of going outside and meeting some new people (and getting some semblance of a tan, jeez). But, this trend is becoming increasingly common, and for good reason too; married couples who started their relationship online report slightly higher rates of marital happiness and slightly lower rates of divorce than their counterparts who met in the traditional, face-to-face way.
The reasons for this could be myriad, but studies have narrowed the advantages of online dating down to a select few. The wide variety of options available for online daters is astounding — at times, over 20 million people have used dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com in a single month — so there are plenty of “fish in the sea” to sort through. Also, after finding one (or many) potential dates, initiating communication with them is as simple as clicking a mouse. This eases the nervousness and anxiety everybody experiences when out on the town — simple conversations can be started without the added pressure and pretense of being dressed well, looking and acting suave, buying or accepting drinks, and so on.
Both the risk and time commitment of online communication pale in comparison to that of face-to-face dating, since all interaction is voluntary, completely optional, and, most distinctly, some physical distance away. These are all great attributes of the online experience for people who are too busy to go out searching for a date in person, or those who aren’t prepared to put themselves out there to complete strangers, either on a blind date or at a club. The much slower, gentler pace of online relationships ensures that potential partners are focusing on the most important thing — each other — instead of being enmeshed in the stressful logistics of an invested, daily, fully face-to-face relationship.
If you wait until after the end credits of "Napoleon Dynamite," you will see Kip and LaFawnduh tying the knot — just like one-third of newly married couples over 2005-2012, whose relationships also began online. Kip and LaFawnduh, like millions of real-life married couples, beat the stigma surrounding online relationships, earned their happy ending and got the last laugh. Perhaps the new key to romantic success lies in the last place most people would think to look — cyberspace. Trying the Internet is well0worth a shot statistically speaking and cannot possibly fare worse than this hilarious blind date.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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