Hardly a week goes by without another new think piece about online dating either revolutionizing society or completely ruining our ability to have real relationships.
But these hyperbolic pronouncements miss a deeper fact: At its core, "online dating" isn't something we just started doing 5, 10 or even 20 years ago.
maybe not that much has changed for the one percent?
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By the time Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan AOL'd each other in You've Got Mail, it had become clear that the Internet was going to change every aspect of our lives forever -- including love and romance.
was founded in 1995, and by 2007, online dating had become the second highest online industry for paid content.
Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities.
Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, British police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture. In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world's first computer dating service.
Before the Internet, there were personal ads, and before that, lonely shepherds carved detailed works of art into tree bark to communicate their longing for human contact.
Since the earliest days of mass media and technology, people have been finding ways to broadcast their desires and find connections that might have otherwise eluded them.
1800s: Aristocrats Catch On Always on the lookout for ways to exploit media for their own ends, aristocrats in the 1800s used personal ads to broadcast their interest in romantic engagements that seem scandalous by today's standards.
An 1841 ad in the Journal of Munich tells of a 70-year-old Baron seeking a woman "between 16 and 20 having good teeth and little feet." (Well...
Phishing, fake profiles, and ads for escorts continue this tradition today.