Friday, May 26, 2006

So, what exactly is the deal with online dating?

And here, I include orkut, ryze, myspace, et al in the same category for purposes of simplicity and economy and constraint in my tendency to wax eloquent on anything and everything that does not have to do with my exams. And yes, the former do have other ostensible uses such as "activity partners" and "networking":)...but, in the righteousness of my smallmindedness, I am going to react to the latter with a resounding "yah right"!

A friend of mine told me about friends of friends of friends of his and many more not so closely related people who had fairly good relationships offline after having met online. In his smirking words, "They did find the one. After screening about 200." I am assuming that it cannot be any different. The exponential increases in reach, coupled with the ability to move on from one prospect to another with little or no emotional, physical and financial cost, will no doubt, engender large volumes of matchmaking along the virtual wires.

I used to run an online experiment on some desi sites a year ago. And then I got bored. My profiles are still online and I get strange responses every now and then, a lot of them being, "let's match time of birth, stars and dietary habits and also, your parents can talk to mine". Whoa, back off buddy. Just a little bit. To give them the benefit of doubt however, this is a site that announces "marriage" intentions, but they could have read what I've written to begin with!!! How exactly does this process work? The profiles suck, by the way. All of them. Uniformly. Bar a miniscule 0.216 percent.

The experiment did not yield any ground-breaking results either. Lack of community, breakdown of social systems and a tendency to inbreed (desi community being the breed I am talking about) will, of course, render opportunities for "real-world" romance null and void. But that sounds a tad reductive to me. I did not have the chance to actually explore the processes whereby people actually date and meet and build the idea of romance. Or even the idea of community, gender role and heteronormativity that is sustained in the process. Maybe sometime in the near future. And before I launch into my highly nuanced thesis on what this is about, check this experiment out. They stole my idea! Of course, two psychologists and two MISs do not an anthropologist make;)...

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