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Sample Essay on the Ethics of Dating Websites: Do People Benefit from Online Dating?

online dating in realityDating industry, similarly to gaming, is huge. If one looks at the statistics, the numbers are impressive: eHarmony has 16.5 million users, Match.com has 23.5, and OKCupid has around 30 million with an average of 1 million unique users daily. Last year, a mobile dating app called Tinder invaded the market, which resulted in over 450 million profiles in less than a year. Meanwhile, the total industry’s revenue has been estimated at $1.75 billion. It is not entirely clear who benefits more: the big industry players who own dating websites or the users who surf these websites for online dating. Can users benefit from them at all?

For those who are looking for a committed long-term relationship, dating websites might be not the best solution. Of the total number of marriages, 17% are those who met each other on a dating website. The situation with long-term partnerships is not much better: of the committed relationships, 20% have started online. At the same time, about 10% of dating websites users is sex offenders. This suggests that chances of finding a potential spouse are slightly greater than the ones of bumping into an offender.

While the main purpose of any dating website seems obvious, which is finding a partner for a relationship of any kind, there is even more to online dating that usually lies hidden. The comparison of online dating realm to the gaming industry in the beginning was not a mere coincidence. People have been talking about gamification of the dating process as a result of technologization. It suggests instant gratification of people’s needs that cannot be momentarily achieved with “real-life” dating. According to psychologists, a person would rather spend a few minutes assessing a hundred of potential partner’s photos than dedicate an hour to finding out about the other one face to face. Online dating is rewarding. It is fast and it does not require too much of a person’s resources, except for money.

Talking about money, a typical dating website client spends around $240 every year. There are a lot of in-platform purchase options that allow users not just to communicate with others, but to have fun as well. Thus, for some, an online dating network is a good way to look for “the right one” by narrowing down a number of search parameters, while for others it is just a fast reward system.

Generally, in order to understand whether people actually benefit from dating websites, one should clarify the purpose with which he or she is using a dating website. If it is online dating as a way of having fun — an exchange of flirty messages or calls to kill some time — then both parts should agree on this form of interaction. However, if it is a genuine search of a life partner — or at least a search for someone to hang out with face to face — then both parties should leave the limited settings of a dating website as soon as possible and start “real-life” communication which will turn out to be much more rewarding.

References

  1. Aretz, W., Demuth, I., Schmidt, K., & Vierlein, J. (2010). Partner Search in the Digital Age. Psychological Characteristics of Online Dating-Service-Users and Its Contribution to the Explanation of Different Patterns of Utilization. Journal of Business and Media Psychology, 1.
  2. Ehrenberg, A., Juckes, S. White, K. & Walsh, S . P. (2008). Personality and Self-Esteem as Predictors of Young People’s Technology Use. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11 (6).
  3. Kim , M ., Kwon , K .- N . & Lee , M . (2009). Psychological Characteristics of Internet Dating Services Users: The Effect Of Self-Esteem, Involvement, and Sociability on the Use of Internet Dating Services, CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12.
  4. McKenna , K . Y.A ., Green , A . & Gleason , M . (2002). Relationship Formation on the Internet: What’s the Big Attraction? Journal of Social Issues, 58.
  5. Valkenburg P.M . & Peter, J . (2007). Who Visits Online Dating Sites? Exploring Some Characteristics of Online Daters. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10 (6).
  6. Whitty, T. W. (2007). The Art of Selling One’s ‘Self’ on an Online Dating Site: the BAR Approach. In M. T. Whitty, A. J. Baker & J. A. Inman (Eds.). Online matchmaking (pp. 57-69). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  7. Armstrong, L., Phillips, J. G. & Saling, L. L. (2000). Potential Determinants of Heavier Internet Usage. International Journal of Human- Computer Studies, 53.
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