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Instead of interacting with the people around her, she chose to search for a companion elsewhere online.I wondered to myself, is this what online dating has done to us?
Of course, others have worried about these sorts of questions before.In fact, by several measures, online dating has proved even more useful — both to individuals and society — than the traditional avenues it has replaced.I spoke with Rosenfeld to hear more about his research, to learn about the ways in which the rise of online dating is defining modern love, and to talk about the biggest misconceptions people have about online dating.It makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for.It also helps the people who use the apps by allowing them to enjoy a pattern of regular hookups that don’t have to lead to relationships.On her screen, images of men appeared and then disappeared to the left and right, depending on the direction in which she wiped.
I felt a deep sense a rejection -- not personally, but on behalf of everyone at the bar.
But the fear that online dating is changing us, collectively, that it's creating unhealthy habits and preferences that aren't in our best interests, is being driven more by paranoia than it is by actual facts.
"There are a lot of theories out there about how online dating is bad for us," Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford who has been conducting a long-running study of online dating, told me the other day.
We see this in consumer goods — if there are too many flavors of jam at the store, for instance, you might feel that it’s just too complicated to consider the jam aisle, you might end up skipping it all together, you might decide it's not worth settling down with one jam. I don’t think that that theory, even if it’s true for something like jam, applies to dating.
I actually don’t see in my data any negative repercussions for people who meet partners online.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.