This writer won't be complaining that there isn't a dating scene on the Hill. In fact, I'm gonna rebel against my predecessors: I'm gonna claim that there is one.
You may ask, if there's a dating scene, then where the hell is it? Is it in the Caf booths? On the elliptical machines? By the P.O. boxes? In the library study rooms? Okay, maybe it's in the study rooms, but it's certainly not anywhere else you can see.
M'friends. Listen to me. You must not look for the dating scene of which I speak in these places. This is a far better kept secret. This dating scene lurks in the deepest and darkest of places, in a world of underscores and asterisks, of $3Kr3+ 3-l337 l4ngU4g3$, and of Paris Hilton sex tapes. Dare I say it, the dating scene you seek may live online.
In a conversation with a few of my friends the other day, one student ('07) announced that she had met her boyfriend on Match.com. Referring to herself as (heaven forbid!) a loser, she turned red and prepared herself for the worst. Prior to her admission, she had been attractive, popular and respected. As an online dater, she knew she would be a freak, a reprobate, a social outcast.
To our surprise, another friend said she had recently gone on a date with a guy she had met on HotOrNot.com. In fact, I confessed, I had met my boyfriend on MySpace. The entire social circle was currently participating in happy relationships that had begun online.
What? Is everyone an online dater? Has love at first sight become a common, pixelated, photoshopped encounter? We put our heads together and thought up a few couples we knew who had met online. They were all quite respectable people, whose relationships were mostly very successful. So why the stigma?
Upon further reflection, I realized that a lot of friends and family members, not to mention myself, have been very grateful for relationships that began online. Whether platonic, romantic or teasingly in between, the Internet allows us to screen our potential friends and lovers.
When we're browsing or searching profiles, we can learn about a person's height, weight, hair color, gender, sexuality, race, religion, income, job title, residential locale and political views. We can learn their tastes in music, art, movies, clothing, television, literature. We can find our other half! You can find the one and only other person who purchased the limited edition Vulcan to Klingon dictionary you've always wanted.
Just looking at someone's Facebook profile, it can be pretty easy to tell whether you two would get along like Ozzie and Harriet or like Michael Moore and Ann Coulter. Just remember that the person you're seeing and lusting for might simply be an image that the person wants to project this image may have little or nothing to do with the person you'd actually meet in person. On the other hand, the images that we wish to project can speak volumes about our goals and desires. While a person's profile online may not tell you who they are, it might tell you who they want to be. For some, this is an equally useful bit of knowledge.
Some websites used commonly by St. Olaf students for dating include Match.com, Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist, Gay.com, Yahoo! Personals and HotOrNot.com. Remember that people who use these services may be seeking anything from kinky phone sex to a lifelong spiritual partnership.
A bit of advice about all these websites and potential dating services: be aware of the user's fee. A lot of these websites will lure lonely customers with stories of people meeting a perfect match. Don't let the websites take advantage of your pocketbook and emotional vulnerability.
Moreover, exercise caution when revealing personal information, talking on the phone and meeting in person for the first time. Always meet someone from online in a safe, public place. Let a friend know where you are. Browse through the list of level-three sex offenders, and just double-check that your dream date isn't on it before you prance over to Goodbye Blue Monday, waiting for your future spouse.
Sex-related comments, questions and/or suggestions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.