Keyboard becomes essential dating tool |

Keyboard becomes essential dating tool

William Ferchland, Tribune staff writer

You may have said you wouldn’t do it; that it’s a realm for the weird and desperate.

Mostly it’s not. Many are choosing the Internet over the frozen food section of a grocery store to find dates, friends and spouses.

In Yahoo! Personals, one of countless online dating sites, there were 49 profiles of women aged 18- to 50-years-old seeking men in South Lake Tahoe. There were 97 profiles of South Lake Tahoe men in the same age range seeking women.

Pull the area out to a 15-mile radius and the number of single women more than doubles. The profiles of men living 15 miles from the city hovers near 200.

According to a Nov. 23 New York Times Magazine cover story about online dating, Americans spent $214.3 million on personals and online dating services in the first six months of 2003. It was almost triple of what was spent in all 2001, the magazine stated.

Profiles are the resumes for singles. Most include basic information such as age, where they live, if they smoke or drink, have children, education, body descriptions and ethnicity.

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There is space for a short autobiography, a slot to characterize television watching habits and another area that states what they seek in a mate.

I posted a profile last week on Yahoo! Personals. The charge was about $20 for one month, which I charged to my Visa. I filled out the fields on a Wednesday night. On Sunday, without receiving any responses, I asked my brother to e-mail a digital photograph of me.

I pasted the photograph on my profile. Still no responses. Discouraged, but determined, I e-mailed some women and got responses from Carson City, Reno, Citrus Heights and Fair Oaks.

The four ranged in age from 19 to 27. They were professionals, students and travelers. Two responded with a quick e-mail and the others provided a more extensive background.

After e-mails are exchanged for several rounds, a request to talk on the phone is usually made. If all goes well, a meeting is arranged.

While a number of women on Yahoo! Personals responded to interview requests, men did not. But not one would give the Tahoe Daily Tribune their full name for publication.

From reading the profiles, South Shore men are online for the same reasons as women. Some are single and looking for companionship, others are divorced and seeking love and a couple are new to the area and using it as a way to meet people.

Scott Lukas chairs the anthropology department at Lake Tahoe Community College and also teaches courses in sociology.

He stated via e-mail that sociologists have noted that the Internet is becoming a more familiar part of people’s lives. People use it to buy cars, look for apartments, purchase gifts and to find dates.

“Well, it impacts dating at the interpersonal level,” he wrote. “We all have heard stories of people who meet, have a great virtual relationship, but then are unable to connect when they see one another. Unfortunately, we live in a society of superficiality and too often dating is focused on the immediate issues of physicality, as opposed to mental connection. Perhaps this signals a sad sign for our society as it proves that dating is created by a society that focuses on image rather then substance.”

Lukas noted that with online profiles it makes it easier for people to find their ideal mate.

“… One filters down through a list of desirable characteristics of their partner until they get the right match with less choices coming as one filters…,” he wrote. “I believe that much of Internet dating is focused on social values of efficiency.”

– E-mail William Ferchland at