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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Online dating: so fun, much catfish

    I love “You’ve Got Mail,” a classic romantic comedy about two rivals who end up falling in love. Released in 1998, this movie was a bit ahead of its time, because the happy couple meet online in a chat room. They even have dial-up.

    Today, online dating is more prevalent than it was in the ’90s. With websites like OkCupid and apps like Tinder available, there are plenty of ways to meet potential mates online. And the practice of online dating is becoming more acceptable, too. According to CNN, six out of 10 people in the U.S. believe that online dating is a good way to meet people, while only two out of 10 think it’s a sign of desperation. One in four couples who make it to the altar have met online.

    Online dating success stories are all over the Internet if you want to look for them. And that’s wonderful: If something can create happy couples, it’s definitely worth considering.

    While online dating sounds like a good idea on paper, it’s smart to be a little wary when entering the digital playing field. Meeting faraway people on the Internet is great, but profiles can be misleading in a way that in-person chemistry cannot. Don’t commit to a relationship before meeting in person.

    Sure, online dating opens up a whole new pool of people you might want to date, but it’s much easier to lie through a keyboard. Online lying is so commonplace that MTV found enough cases to fuel the show “Catfish” — centered around two guys who travel around to help people find out if they have been “catfished,” or lied to about a romantic interest’s real identity.

    And lies aren’t the only thing that can go wrong. Eli J. Finkel, an associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University and lead author of a review about online dating, opened up to CNN about what he and his fellow researchers found.

    “Pretty much all of online dating works through profiles,” Finkel said. “But you can spend a zillion hours studying profile after profile and, at the end of that Herculean effort, how much closer are you to knowing if there’s a romantic spark?”

    Not only do we waste time searching for that glint that might never come, but we view doctored prospects: Our profiles highlight only the best parts of ourselves. They don’t reveal the little idiosyncrasies that are often the difference between two people hitting it off romantically versus creating a platonic friendship.

    Dating websites and apps try to match people with similar ages, in the same area and with similar interests in an attempt to create digital chemistry, but real-life chemistry is more important.

    Finkel’s coauthor Paul Eastwick found that people often do not know what traits they are looking for in a potential partner, and, as a result, they cannot get a good sense of whether or not they will be compatible with someone.

    My advice: Try online dating, but be smart if you actually want to get something out of it. This involves keeping the online discussion short before meeting in person, portraying honest information about yourself (including your picture) and remembering that Google and Facebook can be your best friends when it comes to finding out if a person is who they say they are.

    Engage in conversations with people briefly to see if there is any digital chemistry, but quickly decide if you want to meet them in real life — to have your own “somewhere over the rainbow” moment in Reid Park.

    Maura Higgs is a neuroscience and cognitive science sophomore. Follow her @maurahiggs.

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