By Jennifer Tse
There was a discernible grimace in Kitty Wong’s voice as she described a date with a man she found on Lavalife.
“In his profile picture, he looked like Zac Efron,” said the fourth-year Ryerson fashion design student. “But in real life, he was scrawny, short and kind of creepy. He was really weird.”
According to an article in the Washington Post earlier this year, online dating has spiked due to the poor economic times since people do not want to be alone and financially unstable. Agneta Owen, a marketing consultant for Lavalife Corp., said that only 25 per cent of the company’s demographic fell within the 18 to 25 age range.
The disastrous date wasn’t Wong’s first. Before meeting the ersatz Efron, she’d gone on a date with another Lavalife find she described as a decent guy, but not her type.
Wong decided to use the popular online dating service after realizing her rigorous studies made it difficult to meet singles in Toronto. She first heard about the service through friends and remembered seeing Lavalife ads around the city.
Lavalife describes its demographic as “hip, urban, socially active, media-savvy, and fun-seeking.” Thirty-nine per cent of its users have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and 36 per cent have at least college or technical school training.
But for current students like Wong, online dating just isn’t the way to find that special someone.
“I felt like it would be a waste of time and money to keep using it,” said Wong, who gave up on Lavalife after a year. “There were a lot of creepy people. A lot of guys who were really rude.”
Erika Szabo, journalism first-year student can see why students would want to use such services, after a friend of hers used www.okcupid.com with some success.
“There is so much accessibility in using a dating site,” she said. “It’s easier than meeting people in public places. But students should be incredibly cautious with whom they meet.”
Many online dating sites have faced criticism for failing to authenticate profiles, unbalanced user sex ratios and for providing easy targets for Internet predators.
As a result, many students frown upon Internet dating, choosing to look for companions the “real” way.
However, a 2002 Wired magazine article by Rufus Griscom made the prediction that efficiency will one day outstrip serendipity in the eyes of busy singles.
“Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love without looking for it online will be silly,” wrote Griscom.