In 2003, a young Mark Zuckerberg sat in front of his computer and instant-messaged a friend.
Back then, “the facebook thing” was still a rough idea, and 18-year-old Zuckerberg was trying to finesse the concept. “I don’t think people would sign up for the facebook thing if they knew it was for dating,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Today, online dating sites peddle a radical vision: a new future for love as we know it; a more efficient, more targeted way to meet a compatible mate. Forget about hanging out in bars, or volunteering at community functions, or awkwardly asking friends if their friends are single.
Many of the biggest online sites are marketing themselves not just as places to get a date, but as a place to find a lifelong mate.
The dating site e Harmony claims an average of 542 members marry every day in America.
At a press launch, Facebook reps showed off the new product, explaining that it could be used to search for restaurants, or for job recruiting.
At one point, a Facebook employee stood to demonstrate a search for “friends of my friends who are single and living in San Francisco.” And that’s when Facebook entered the online dating game, doing away with what was, until now, a fragile divide between quotidian online activity and the act of browsing for potential mates.
On the day of the announcement, the stock price of Inter Active Corp—the parent site of online dating behemoths —dropped by more than two per cent. Over the past two decades, the Internet has become a fixture of the modern-day romance plot.
In the early ’90s, just one per cent of new relationships began online.
By 2009, that number had grown to around 20 per cent for heterosexual couples, and 60 per cent for same-sex matches.
An estimated 30 to 40 million North Americans now use online dating sites.
The 1,500 sites comprise an industry worth over .5 billion.
A quarter of all Canadians have tried Internet dating, and 16 per cent have had sex with someone they met online.