Online Dating has become an ambiguous concept in recent times, as many of the social media platforms are places where people make connections, hook up, and even meet their future spouses, in addition to online classified sites that have "seeking" sections dedicated to people finding people. However, in the context of this article, online dating refers to sites specifically tailored to matchmaking over the Internet. Unsurprisingly, online dating is increasing in prevalence every year, as people become more comfortable and more reliant upon the Internet to manage their social lives. This occurs in parallel with the improvement of internet technology. Where most people had very slow dialups in the 1990s, it is now considered common to have a high-speed DSL or cable connection in the home. Considering the boon of computer literacy among the younger generation (those born after 1990), the online dating trend will almost certainly continue to increase.
Online dating sites function much like shopping sites, where the user browses people, assesses their attributes, and makes selections according to personal prefernece. In that same metaphorical vein, online dating profiles function like advertisements, where the individuals are attempting to "sell" themselves. Many online dating services generate their revenue by offering a wider range of like-minded participants than a user is capable of reaching on their own, and this often includes generating favorable profiles from the information provided by the user. The services will often include complex algorithms that take various attributes from different people and generate numeric representations of how closely individuals are matched. Sites usually require a minimum amount of information and a profile picture to qualify for publication, but users are allowed to withhold anything that might compromise their safety.
Similar to speed dating and its events, there are no limitations outside of legality(hate speech or promotion of underaged activity, for example) as to what the theme of an online dating site entails. Virtually any interest could be found somewhere on the Internet. It could be said that online dating sites are a digital version of newspaper classified sections, where a short description of the person is given along with their age, and what type of person they are seeking,which serves as the calling card to individuals who fit the description (e.g. M,40,seeking W, 20-35 represents a 40-year-old male who is seeking women aged 20 to 35). The obvious difference is the reach of the Internet compared to the reach of a local newspaper, where the chances of meeting someone are exponentially increased simply by deepening the pool to thousands more people. In contrast, the chances of meeting someone who lives too far away to make the match work becomes a possibility, though online sites will always allow for local searches to remedy this. The main drawback of online dating compared to speed dating is that, unless the site sponsors video chat, there is no guarantee that the person you've been communicating and connecting with is the same person from the profile you clicked on. In fact, it is relatively safe to assume that many profiles contain minor exaggerations, but there is still a great amount of convenience in meeting new people from the comfort of home.