Commercialization of Experience – Online Dating
Prior to the age of Internet, Telephone and Telegraph, human beings were required to physically move from one place to another, reach a common meeting point, and only there they would conduct their relationships. Following the invention of the Telegraph and the Telephone the ability to create new relationships between human beings became an easier task. Although faster ways to communicate messages did exist, the actual meeting between individuals had to take a physical form eventually, which in turn, compelled both parties to put an additional effort to move around and relocate themselves in order to conduct the meeting, face-to-face. Following the rise of the Internet and its positioning as the main platform through which most of the communication between human beings is being conducted nowadays, the way in which relationships are being created between people had evolved accordingly. Not only that the Internet allows people to exchange instant messages one with the other, but it also allows one to see each other as a result of using various features such as video conferences, image uploading and the like.
The ability to engage in virtual relationships had become a very simple task, while as the need of engaging in such relationships and nurturing those by these same users had become a real and existential necessity for the latter. The ever growing use of the web had created opportunities for entrepreneurs to create websites that are designated for social and business networking between web surfers. Nowadays, a distinct separation exists between the relationships that take place offline and those taking place online
In a world in which social networks and virtual relationships are a matter of everyday life for the modern human being, it might be appropriate to pause and examine one of the ways Internet users choose in order to initiate contact with each other. During the last years some remarkably popular websites had been created mainly aimed at promoting romantic acquaintances between men and women, men and men and women and women.
The development of dating websites is a fascinating issue, which introduces some fundamental questions regarding the effect such websites have upon their users and the nature of social consequences deriving from the ever growing usage of such websites. Therefore, one might ask what motivates and attracts users to sign-up for a dating website? Has the modern capitalist society in which we live distanced people away from each other? Has it created a certain alienation that causes users to log-in to virtual websites in order to come closer and get to know each other?
In his work, Karl Marx comments on the development of capitalist society, which is based on mass production, homogeneous production and a utilitarian school of thought based on cost vs. benefit considerations. In those contexts, one can perceive the way in which modern society operates. Eva Illouz states that the laws of the industry are embedded in the behavioral codes of everyday life to such an extent so that these industrial characteristics also end up invading other spheres of life. One of those spheres is the sphere of romance and partner seeking The ever growing amount of users and the characteristics of search, which is based on specific criteria, turn website surfing, metaphorically, into a conveyor belt in a factory along which user profiles are being conveyed, while the user is ought to choose the profiles that match his search preferences, in the most efficient and time-saving manner.
The abundance of offering that is available to the average “relationship seeker” on dating sites requires them to become very methodological in their search patterns. Physical characteristics, socio-economic status and other filters are applied in order to reach the most targeted potential partners in the least amount of time. This is true also in other aspects of our lives. We rush in order to complete as many tasks in a given time frame. Finding romance and or relationships that would last is not based on statistics. The more partners we match up with would not necessarily bring us closer to “the one” we seek. This ROI culture developed by dating sites not only diminish the value of romance, but also create an abundance of offerings that cause people to become even more selective in their chosen relationships only because of the assumption that “there is so much out there”.