If Valentine’s Day reminds of one thing, it’s that love, as ABBA once warned us, isn’t easy. And, when the single life becomes especially tiresome, many of us turn to the Internet to flirt, date, or even just chat. While online courtship may have once been stigmatized or discounted as some sort of “last resort,” a new study suggests that our romantic norms may be shifting — in a major way.
According to a global poll from the BBC World Service, 30-percent of Internet users consider the Web a suitable place to meet significant others. Among the 19 countries covered in the survey, India and Pakistan had the highest percentage of digital daters; about 60-percent of those polled in both countries consider the Internet as worthy a place as any to meet potential partners. In general, Web surfers in developing countries tended to have a more favorable opinion of online romance, while fewer Americans, British and French held similar beliefs. As Yahoo! reports, the poll exposed an educational divide in the sample, as well; 28-percent of users with a college education felt comfortable meeting people on the Internet, compared to 36-percent of those who hadn’t finished high school.
As the BBC study shows, reticence to hook up online may have more to do with cultural attitudes than anything else. It makes total sense that the approach would be especially popular in India and Pakistan, where arranged marriages are still very common. With the help of sites like Shaadi.com, parents and families throughout the subcontinent can browse through a much wider variety of potential suitors, and can separate the weddable wheat from the trashy chaff with a few clicks of a mouse.
Perhaps in the West, where marriage is more individualized and less institutionalized, we still have ideals of how courtship is “supposed” to happen — and for whatever reason, the Internet doesn’t fit into our fairytale paradigm. As more of the world becomes connected, though, and as the exchange rate between digital and face-to-face contact nears parity, we have to believe that even our beloved Cinderella-Prince Charming narrative will begin to adjust, too.
[From: Yahoo! News]