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Finding a soul mate in cyberspace

On September 16, 2011

Everyone has times when they see someone familiar on campus, but not every familiarity stems from a face-to-face interaction.

Online dating is a growing industry that helps thousands of people make connections each day. Though it is a popular venue for developing relationships, it is often thought of as an embarrassing or taboo subject for those involved.

"There are more people (on dating sites) in Logan than would admit to it," said Bailey McMurdie, a senior broadcast journalism and creative writing student. "It is kind of embarrassing, but they're on there and they're talking to people."

McMurdie said she started getting on dating sites a couple of years ago but, after a few weeks, would decide "this is creepy" and delete her account. But recently, McMurdie said, she's been staying on more consistently.

"I still have mine from June," she said. "And I've talked to some really cool people. It's misconstrued, because people think dating sites are for people who want to get married real fast - and there are some of those - but a lot of young people are just more wanting to get to know people."

Kyle Oakeson, a senior English major, said he is familiar with relationships. At one time, he said he did try out online dating but found people on the site didn't take it seriously.

Since then Oakeson developed a website (datingzion.blogspot.com) to give dating advice to people who need help with or want to improve relationships.

"I don't particularly like online dating sites," Oakeson said. "I've found that online dating sites are where people who are too lazy to do it in the real world go. People who use online dating are not invested enough."

Oakeson said in order for people to develop meaningful relationships, they have to be willing to risk something and invest in it.

"I guess that's one reason why I branched more this way, just offering advice," Oakeson said. "I think a lot of people (online) are looking for an easy way into (dating), and it's not easy."

He said his site is for people who are serious about improving relationships.

"I think there's a point where you have to be serious," Oakeson said. "I think most people aren't serious enough, but you can approach dating for fun. You don't have to approach it just to get married."

Oakeson said his website averages about 200 consistent visitors, and his facebook page has more than 130 fans.

"I think I've helped a lot of people," he said. "I quite frequently get emails from people or comments saying, ‘What you just said makes so much sense,' and that's what keeps me doing this. There are few benefits better than that."

He said a lot of people don't date because they lack confidence.

"A lot of people are too afraid to do anything - like they don't want to go and get people's phone numbers, and they don't want to ask people out that they've known for a long time. I think confidence is key," Oakeson said.

Still, others argue that online dating is not much different than traditional dating practices.

"I honestly don't think it's any different than randomly meeting someone at a party, exchanging numbers and going on a date," McMurdie said. "I've had more bad experiences with guys being creepy and inappropriate in real life than online."

Kristin Peterson, a junior majoring in exercise science, said she isn't interested in online dating at this point because she's still young.

"I think online dating is a really good option for older singles," Peterson said. "Right now, since I'm young, I feel like I have a lot more opportunities to meet other singles face-to-face, so I don't need to turn to online dating."

Peterson said she only knows of one person in her life who has done online dating and thinks if they are happy, they shouldn't be embarrassed about it.12

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