Online dating lacks spontaneity

by Jim Longworth

Lately I’ve noticed the television airwaves have been inundated with commercials for on-line dating services. I’ve also noticed that these services are very niche oriented, with each one targeted to a specific demographic. is probably the best known and most inclusive of the on-line dating services, but there are scores of others that make no apologies for being exclusive. Buzz Feed’s Paul Frank recently listed some of the more diverse sites, and, thanks to Google, I discovered a myriad of others. Here, in honor of Valentine’s Day, are some of my favorites: features a romantic carriage ride on its home page and a photo of a girl hugging a raccoon. Those Amish women love anything with facial hair.’s slogan is “Find Your First Mate,” and allows nautical men to enter from either the bow or the stern. assists like-minded vampires and Goths in finding someone suitable to neck with. It also gives the old phrase “punctured romance” a whole new meaning.’s slogan is, “Everyone loves a clown, so let a clown love you.” That’s the line I used on my wife. is a dating site that matches up adults who like to wear baby diapers (and they say divorce is messy). matches up people with peanuts envy.’s slogan is “Find your salad soul mate today!” It’s a holistic dating service for singles who love their salad tossed. is “For beautiful people only.” It features photos of men with open shirts and women with open shirts. Now if they just featured people with open minds. is all about matching up Star Trek fans and its slogan is “Love long and prosper.” The goal is for men who use the service to move out of their parents’ house by age 50. is the nation’s only online dating service for singles who worship p*ssies.’s slogan is “City folks just don’t get it.” Apparently neither do farmers who need to use this service.

And, there are also online dating services which cater to specific races and colors, such as and

I have a problem with all of these online dating services for two reasons. First, they serve to fractionalize our society and promote social segregation at a time when our nation strives to be more diverse and inclusive. There’s nothing wrong with people marrying within their own race or religion; I’m just not sure it’s all that healthy for us to be defined by what we are instead of who we are. Left to the laws of nature, opposites attract and that’s a good thing, because couples can learn from each other’s differences. Left to online dating, opposites aren’t allowed to attract.

My main problem with online dating services, though, is that they diminish the kind of spontaneous combustion that can occur when two people of varied backgrounds and interests meet by chance, and fall in love naturally. My wife Pam and I met at a business luncheon, and soon thereafter we started courting by phone. Later we began dating, and a year later we were married. We didn’t need a website to tell us we were meant for each other. We just fell in love the old fashioned way.

Of course, every culture has its own idea of what old-fashioned dating means. In some areas of Egypt, lovebirds can only meet and date with parental approval and with a chaperone in tow. In Germany and Switzerland it is common for singles to meet at a festival or other pubic event, then end up dating. And in Nyangatom, Ethiopia, a man must impress the parents of the woman he wants to date by giving his prospective father-in-law 500 cows.

Unfortunately here in America, it seems that the old traditions of dating are going by the wayside, with more and more people meeting electronically. In fact, according to a 2005 Pew Research survey, over 3 million of us are married to, or involved with, someone we met through an online dating service, and that number is growing. Meanwhile some guys are now constructing computer-generated avatars of the women they like, rather than waiting for an online dating service to provide a match. What’s next? Holographic dating?

I’m glad my wife isn’t an avatar, and I’m glad that we met spontaneously, not electronically. Now if I could just get those 500 cows back from my father-in-law.

Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am on WMYV (cable channel 15).