Love 2.0
Two contributors report back on their foray into U of T's online dating scene
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Mnrupe Virk
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Being famously unsuccessful at dating and chronically single, Love@UT - U of T’s first online dating service - should be a godsend. The service allows users to look up and connect with potential love interests without ever having to step a foot outside Robarts.
Despite this seemingly ideal situation, it is not yet clear whether success in the world of online dating is inversely related to the experience of conventional dating. On the surface, online dating appears to be a slightly different game, with different rules and players to boot.
Samantha Joel, a graduate student from the Psychology department researching romantic relationship patterns, does not see such a difference. According to Joel, while the “norms surrounding the formation of the relationship” are different for online dating, “relationships that began online tend to follow exactly the same trajectories as relationships that began in person.”
Then why online dating? Well for one, it connects people who would never meet otherwise. Mr. Right may be sitting in Victoria residence, and you will probably never meet on account of being a Woodsworth student commuting from Scarborough with no Victoria acquaintances to speak of. However, if you both joined a site like LOVE@UT, the chances of meeting greatly increase.
Online dating is a more “efficient” way of meeting people, as opposed to the traditional routes of the bar or party circuit. Instead of learning names and favourite hobbies long after drunkenly getting to first base, online dating presents individuals with data immediately to decide whether or not someone meets their particular dating criteria.
Despite all this, the appeal of online dating may not always work in practice. First of all, not all sites have an equal ratio of males to females. LOVE@UT for example, seems heavily dominated by males in the life or applied sciences.
Another issue is the misrepresentation of individuals. Online, you are in complete control of how you present yourself and it is tempting to fudge details to appear more attractive.
Thirdly, despite LOVE@UT’s membership of 284 users, there appears to be a general stigma regarding online dating for young people. Online dating is famously considered the realm of the older, the super picky, the super busy or the socially (and thus romantically) inept.
Falling into the latter category of possible online dating users, my personal experience was not as rewarding as theory would have it. Even after setting up a profile, uploading the best picture of myself from two years ago, and making the conscious decision to omit certain hobbies from my profile, I have not received a single message from an interested user nor been bothered to send one.
To me, the practice of online dating seems strange. After browsing many profiles with either too much or barely any information at all, there seems to be only so much you can glean from a badly edited write up and a blurry thumbnail photograph. Even if someone appears to be the perfect match based on his or her LOVE@UT profile, what guarantees any physical chemistry?
Part of the fun (and admittedly heartbreak) in dating is meeting and possibly working things out with individuals who appear to have completely different interests and may not seem to be a match otherwise. With online dating, much of the mystery and excitement in getting to know someone appears lost.

Aaron Zack
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For the past two weeks I’ve taken part in what can at best be called a social experiment and at worst, an exercise in egoism and identity projection. I’m talking about the newest online dating site on campus – Love@UT.

For ethical reasons related to the article, I chose not to message other users first, expecting them to contact me if interested. In any case, despite having my profile viewed multiple times a day and being ‘favourited’ once or twice, I received only one message – here it would seem that the online dating community is a place to be seen but not heard.

It gets worse: of the vast majority of profiles I perused, I noticed a nagging similarity between them. Users defined themselves either in very basic terms or not at all, but went into minute detail about what they look for in potential partners, with one user specifying what type of clothes his next girlfriend should wear.

In theory, online dating should function in nearly the same way as traditional dating. In practice, this is not the case. Online dating seems to distort the norms and conventions of traditional dating, skewing standards and simplifying personalities. The complex chemical, psychosocial, and cultural cocktail that makes up conventional dating is lost in translation in online dating, with only those individuals with a strong understanding of their own identity and a penchant for self-expression reaping any real benefit from the process.

Online dating still exists as a potentially positive alternative to conventional dating, but until the technology becomes progressive enough to encompass the many complex variables inherent to human interaction, it will remain a cheap imitation at best.

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