Love, sex, hookups ... now a click away
The Internet has become a hunting ground for love and sex. And, with new programs, that hunt is becoming a whole lot easier.
While dating sites used to be the only electronic domain for matchmaking, there are now social networking sites and dating applications that are popping up every day. As love-seeking net users know, the options available for finding a date — or mere booty call — have become more plentiful and varied in recent years.
There are 97 million people worldwide who used an old-fashioned dating site in 2008, according to internet data site comScore. That figure dropped 9 million from the year before, and that drop might be related to the emergence of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, which are free. Social networking sites are a lot less obvious about their purpose, allowing users to network with abandon and flirt if they choose to. It makes sense that the ever-enterprising Facebook has a plethora of applications (Zoosk, Flirtwall, Best Match) designed for all types of dating purposes, from the search for love, sweet love, to the hunt for a no-nonsense hook-up.
And the process has become even more efficient now that GPS technology has entered the dating game. Who needs to spend hours filling out personality questionnaires on dating sites to find that love match? Tech savvy young singles are now tracking each other through their phone's internal GPS and the help of dating applications such as Skout and Are You Interested? (another Facebook app with 12 million users).
Your phone will alert you if that special someone is the next aisle over in Loblaws, just waiting to be found.
The new technology has been popular for gay men, with one of the first location-based iPhone apps for gay men released last March. Called Grindr, the app allows men to chat with each other on their iPhones and reveal potential dates' whereabouts — either within the same block or at a party.
It all started about a decade ago in Japan with an application called Lovegety, which set off a user's cellphone vibration if there was a match in the vicinity. It led to apps such as Bluedating (via Bluetooth), Blackberry friendly Loopt and Brightkite.com. Even the giant Match.com has jumped in with a location-based app available online to its users. It's a natural that sites like Match.com would also make use of social media such as Twitter for match-making purposes.
And iPhone has made it a breeze for users to join in the fun — location-app Skout has more than half a million users. Within minutes, pictures are uploaded and messages can be sent to available singles. A match can potentially be made instantaneously — and business is booming.
* Gallery: Tech toys for the bedroom
The dark side of instantaneous interaction is the potential for stalking, which is why many of the new apps don't allow pinpoint GPS accuracy for tracking that special person. As well, there is the concern that these new dating methods have created a culture of disposable dates. Commitmentphobes can go nuts as they jump from one relationship to the next.
In fact, you might just be setting yourself up for more heartbreak courtesy of the new technology.
How quick are you to adopt new technologies?
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- I'm a tech-head — first in line to buy the latest and greatest.
- I'll typically wait for the first wave to pass and the bugs fixed before diving in.
- If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I hang on to my tech goodies for good reason.
- I'm still using a VCR and my late '90s flip phone.