Internet dating is often the butt of cheap jokes, but there are millions of Australians registered with online dating services. Given that we already do almost everything else online, has online dating finally lost its stigma?
I had a catch-up chat yesterday with the founders of dating service Oasis, which takes the relatively unusual approach of offering a free service rather than charging fees to users. Founders Dave Heysen and Daniel Haigh had previously developed subscription-based dating services, but changed to a model where advertising, rather than member signups, paid the bills. They also placed an emphasis on real-time communication and allowing people to meet as many people as possible, arguing that it was more important to draw from a wide pool than to attempt to match on a highly specific series of profile requirements.
Oasis has around 1.2 million members locally, and one trend Heysen has noticed is that the average user age is younger than with other sites. He also sees it as a much more acceptable activity for most people:
These days it's part and parcel of what you do. You check your mail, you check your Facebook, you check your dating.
Obviously anyone running an online dating service is hardly going to argue that they're a refuge for the cheap and desperate, but that seems like a reasonable observation to me. If you've exhausted the potential dating pool of people your friends and colleagues know, then looking online seems like a logical next step. What do you think?