Call me crazy, but I really don’t understand how people can claim to be in a relationship with someone purely over the internet. How can you actually be in a relationship with someone if you have never physically spoken to them, never spoken to them over the phone even, never visited their house, never met their friends, hell, have never even met them!

I had a pen-pal from Canada for most of my childhood, whom, although I exchanged pictures with, I never met in person, and even though I never met her, I would (and still do) consider Willow a friend. I used to be all for making friends in other countries or cities through email or writing letters, but these days, with the massive explosion of online dating and the growing number of news stories about online dates gone horribly wrong, I just think the whole thing is strange.

Take “Chat Roulette” for instance. C.R is a web-based program, where you can chat to whoever randomly appears on your computer screen for as long as you want, then click onto the next random person. Theoretically, it’s meant to be primarily a tool for conversation, not dating, but every second person on the site is naked or creepy, most likely a combination of the two. Hardly, an ideal environment to meet a potential date. But considering this is one of the most authentic ways to talk to people online, and know that what you’re getting is the “real” them, as opposed to a planned out dating site profile, it is (irrational or not) how I judge the likelihood of ever actually meeting someone cool and normal on the web.

My impression of internet dating is based on the stereotype of the lonely, socially-isolated misfit, who prefers to play online, rather than having real-life interactions. Skewed and biased as my assumption is, I know that I am not the only one who feels that way, and sadly, there are numerous articles in the news which seem to back up my theory. Take the example of the 13-year-old girl who was raped (in real life) by her 54-year-old “virtual husband,” who she had met through playing online game RuneScape and married in the game. This man, John Phillips, is what my impression of the average online dater is, and even when I hear the stories of people who have chatted or emailed with seemingly “normal” folk online, the idea still doesn’t sit right with me.

In reality, how many people are actually completely truthful online? If everyone was always honest, I would be a multi-millionaire by now, after a lovely Nigerian princess gave me millions of dollars just because I had a “trustworthy name”, and was willing to let her hide some cash from her domineering husband in my bank account. It feels as though the online dating world is full of too many unscrupulous people who pray on those who are actually on the site to find companionship and love. Just look at the poor guy recently who thought he had met the love of his life online, but after “being with her” for 2 years and sending her $200,000, she disappeared and he realized he was the victim of a scam the whole time.

Basing a relationship with someone on only what they tell you through a computer, sets you up for disappointment. Sure, everyone knows someone who knows someone, who’s best friend met their husband online, and he’s gorgeous, with a great job and a lot of money, and now they’re happily married with 3 kids. But what about all the people who get stung from online dating? are currently facing legal proceedings against them from a woman who used their site and actually agreed to go on a real-life date with a man, and was, horribly, assaulted by him after the date. Turns out, he had been convicted of several counts of sexual battery, but had never told her about his conviction (what a surprise!). Not meeting the person in real-life and allowing your impression of them to be based on false assumptions, rather than your own intuition and judgment, is not only going to set you up to be possibly disappointed, but it can be very dangerous.

Articles and testimonials I have read about the benefits of online dating skim over the dangerous nasty stuff, and focus on the “convenience” of dating without having to leave the comfort of your living room. In this day and age, everything is about convenience. Don’t have time to do grocery shopping? Don’t worry, you can order online. Can’t be bothered going to a store to try on clothes? It’s cool, they can be ordered online. No time to cook dinner? Just order in. Perfect. Some things however, require a bit of effort. Dating is one of them. I don’t care if it is more convenient or comfortable to stay home in your sweats and chat online, rather than going to all the effort of showering, doing your hair, nails, getting dressed (you know, all the things that everyone should do everyday anyway), having a virtual relationship is not a decent alternative to having a real-life, face to face relationship, with an actual person.

What do you think? Is online dating cool, or creepy?

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