Despite growth in popularity, online dating is almost as ridiculous as it is risky

The night before the National Championship, I watched an ESPN special on Manti Te’o. The hour-long segment had all the makings of a great Hallmark movie: the hardworking athlete, a tragic turn of events, a diagnosis of cancer, and most importantly, the rise of an epic hero.

Of course, I fell right into the trap. By the end of broadcast, I was almost in tears trying to suppress mutinous thoughts that I actually wanted Notre Dame to defeat Alabama just so poor Te’o could have his shot at victory.

Of course, just 24 hours later, The University of Alabama had once again proven their dominance, and Notre Dame departed wondering what had gone so wrong. When debuted their headlining story revealing that Te’o’s girlfriend did not die of leukemia and in fact, never existed in the first place, I was shocked. It had all been an elaborate hoax.

And after the kind of emotional response I had to Te’o, falling in love with his inspirational story and endearing struggle to the top, I couldn’t help but feeling that it wasn’t only Te’o who had been “catfished,” but me too.

While the idea of meeting people through the Internet is certainly not a new development, it has evolved to take on entirely new meaning in today’s increasingly tech-savvy society. Online dating sites claim to bring people together based on common interests, values, and personality traits. Some sites even go as far as to specialize for certain types of people, such as vegetarians.

The problem with meeting people through the Internet is that we have no way of separating truth from reality. With all the warnings and stories of failure, it’s amazing to me that online dating services continue to thrive, and people still invest in online relationships.

I vividly remember the times when my mom thought that the minute I made a Facebook account, I would become the world’s biggest target for kidnappers and rapists galore. Today, it seems that everyone shares everything on the Internet. For example, the new Tinder app, which is basically an updated version of “Hot or Not” has spread like wildfire around college campuses, including The University of Alabama. Just the other day, I heard a girl excitedly telling her friend about a coffee date she had set up with one of her “matches” on Tinder.

What ever happened to the notion of serendipity? What about love at first sight? Does anyone still believe that love happens when you least expect it, not when you go searching for it on the Internet like a pair of obscurely colored boots? It’s a sad day when we’ve transformed love into a science that can be pinpointed through the equivalent of an advanced search on Google.

We’ve all become too impatient to wait for love in it’s organic form, so it makes sense that what we end up with is a fake version of the real thing that leaves us feeling as empty and alone as Manti Te’o himself.

If you want to play a computer game, sure, do it around the dull glow of your computer screen. If you want to type a paper or do some research, fine, pull out your laptop. But if you’re looking for love, then believe me, and so many others who learned the hard way, when we say you’re not going to find it within the confines of a 13-inch pixelated screen.

Tara Massouleh is a freshman majoring in English and journalism. Her column runs bi-weekly on Thursdays.

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