Real vs. Cyber Becomes the Basis of Lifestyle Choices

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Real vs. Cyber Becomes the Basis of Lifestyle Choices

Amazon has revolutionized the way people buy books, Google has transformed the way people search for information, and eBay has changed the way people buy and sell items that used to be sold at yard sales.

Those business models were all based on convenience. The Internet’s strength is its ability to give people access to a wealth of information. If you’re looking for a Mickey Mouse Pez dispenser or a first edition of Catcher in the Rye, the Web is the most efficient way to search and compare without having to travel to thousands of locations.

But the Internet falls short in other areas. Consider the growing disenchantment with on-line dating, which has led an increasing number of people to abandon dating sites for old-fashioned blind dates arranged by friends.

Web sites such as and Yahoo Personals give singles a way to narrow the list of options by entering highly specific search criteria and then generating a list of people who meet those criteria, such as female, divorced, no children, blue eyes, brown hair, slender, advanced degree, and so on.

Internet dating and personals generated $245.2 million in the first half of 2005, according to The Paid Content U.S. Market Spending Report conducted by comScore Networks for The Online Publishers Association. However, for the first time in several years, the category lost its top spot among paid content categories, falling behind Entertainment/Lifestyles content.

As veterans of the Internet dating world have discovered, the advantage that the Internet offers in helping people find each other is also its drawback. Because people can often find literally thousands of others who fit their criteria, Internet dating encourages daters to keep looking for a better match instead of settling down.

Even members of Generation X, who grew up with technology, are rejecting it as a way to find dates and long-term mates. “Many GenXers have a romantic notion of meeting someone and falling in love, and many feel the on-line [approach] feels contrived and less romantic,” according to Jillian Straus, author of the book Unhooked Generation. For them, blind dates arranged by friends feel more natural and more likely to lead to a long-term relationship.

Also, the anonymity of the Internet gives some people the license to be rude. They can walk out in the middle of a first date, or end relationships by simply not responding to further e-mails, without offering the courtesy of a message to say they’re no longer interested. This isn’t the case with traditional blind dates arranged by a mutual friend in the real world: People tend to be more polite when they have to answer to a friend who will hold them accountable for their behavior...

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