Dating in a a Digital World

Dating in a a Digital World

Madelyn Hix, Reporter

The thought of a multitude of messages from strangers coming into your inbox may be overwhelming to some, but this is how Shari Naughton, a baby-boomer and Iowa City local, met her husband.

According to a study done by eHarmony in 2015, 40% of Americans use online dating. There has been a 6% increase in the number of people from older generations using these sites.

“A lot of it is because you have to go out and I think people are more happy and feel safer doing it where they don’t have access to you,” said Naughton.

Go back 20 years and online dating was just coming into the game. went live in 1995. The other big sites (OkCupid, eHarmony, etc.) didn’t come until the early 2000s. Between 1995 and 2000, less than 10% of people found a partner through online dating.

However with the rise of online dating, online dating has taken out methods such as blind dates and speed dating events, some of which people do not like.

“It was horrendous,” Naughton said, recalling her experience with speed dating. “You go in and sit in these chairs at tables and then the guys rotated every three minutes. It was terrible. In speed dating, you don’t have a choice. You just get everybody.”

Trends have shown that older people, aged 55 to 64, have stopped turning their noses up and have started turning towards online dating with 12% of them admitting to using an online dating site.

“[Online dating] definitely helped in this relationship,” Naughton explained. “It determines people that might have the same interests as you. And I think that’s a good thing.”

However, a seemingly great system of meeting people comes it’s problems, ghosting being a big one.

Ghosting is when someone attempts to end a relationship by cutting out all communication suddenly and without explanation. According to a study done by PlentyOfFish, 78% of millenials have been ghosted at some point in their dating lives.

“I think honesty is the best policy. If you don’t want to see somebody, don’t waste your time, don’t waste their time, just say no. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘I’m sorry I don’t think it’ll work with us’,” said Naughton.

Along with changing how to meet people and trends in relationship habits, technology has now changed relationships themselves. People are now using their phones more and more and talking less and less.

For some people, the online realm of dating has opened up new possibilities when it comes to dangerous situations. Scrolling through the internet, you could find thousands of articles about horror stories of online dating, from stalkers, to sexual assault, and, in extreme cases, even murder.

“It’s not dangerous  if you do it wisely,” Naughten said when asked about the dangers of online dating. “My problem was for the first one I didn’t do it wisely and I invited somebody to my house. And then your dad and uncle and some friends were all here and stayed the entire time and when it was done [they told me] ‘No more inviting anybody to the house’. But I’m old fashioned. I thought the home was my safe place.”

But the truth is, in this day and age, the home is no longer a “safe place”. There are many cases where someone is brought back to a house of someone they met online and bad things happen.

“If you’re a teenager, you should never meet someone you met online alone and always make it a very public place,” advised Naughton. “And get to know the person before you agree to meet them.”