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Why we’re still skeptical about doing online dating

There’s no basis for perpetuating the stigma associated with online dating

online dating stigma

One of the suspects in the Dec. 2 San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 and wounded 17 was 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook. Yahoo! published a short article pointing out that Farook used online dating, implying some kind of link.

That’s the kind of perception people had about online dating 20 years ago, but here are a couple reasons why we should have a more evolved perspective:

“Virtually all singles” use online dating today, even if it’s only for a brief time, according to Match.com:

[A common misconception is that] online dating is for people who just can’t get a date in real life — because they’re unattractive, have poor social skills or are otherwise undesirable,” explains Shannon Fox, author of Last One Down the Aisle Wins. The truth, however, is that “the majority of people who seek love online are successful in careers that don’t afford them the luxury of lots of free time to meet people, and others prefer online dating because they’re more particular about the people they choose to date and want a chance to eliminate unlikely candidates.”

And despite an association between online daters and serial killers in the 1990s, the Pew Research Center says the connotations of online dating have grown increasingly positive:

When we first studied online dating habits in 2005, most Americans had little exposure to online dating or to the people who use it, and they tended to view it as a subpar way of meeting people. Today, almost half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or who has met a spouse or partner via online dating—and their attitudes towards online dating have grown progressively more positive.

Sure, you might meet a serial killer from a dating website; but you could also meet a serial killer in the real world and not know it.

If there had been anything written on any of the San Bernardino suspect’s online dating profiles that alluded to any kind of criminal intentions, then there’s a story. But by all indications, Farook came off as a pretty normal guy.

“[On one online dating site], Farook described himself as a 22-year-old Muslim male living in Riverside, California, who is from a ‘religious but modern family of 4 – 2 girls, 2 boys’ and worked for the county as a health, safety and environmental inspector,” according to the Yahoo! article.

So with the prevalence of online dating, and the fact that it’s only becoming more tightly woven within the fabric of western society, it’s hard to justify writing an article for the sole purpose of pointing out that a suspect in a shooting used online dating. You can pick out any 20-something-year-old who has committed a crime and there’s a strong probability that he or she has used online dating.

And there’s a strong probably that any 20-something who hasn’t committed a crime has used online dating, so you can’t draw a correlation between someone who would commit a mass shooting and usage of online dating.

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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.

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