A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 27, 2018

How the Entire Internet Became a Dating Site

People employing their passions to drive, well, their passion. JL

Emma Court reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Disenchanted or just plain turned off by online dating, people are finding love and romance in other corners of the internet. Platforms designed for networking, gaming, blogging, answering questions and even making lists are doing unintended double duty as matchmakers.
Musician Jacoby Jennings doesn’t like online dating sites. Yet he found love over the internet anyway—through the music-streaming service Spotify .
A playlist he created, inspired by music from the movie “Drive,” attracted followers, including one he found especially intriguing.
The thing that caught me is she was into the Cure, one of my top three bands, she has blue hair, she was posing in a DeLorean in her Facebook picture,” recalls Mr. Jennings.
He messaged her. She was a scientist, Rachel Truscon, living more than a thousand miles away. They now live together in Michigan.
“We laugh about how crazy it is that we met,” he says, especially given that his own experiment with online-dating sites lasted just an hour, because “it felt so unnatural.” The couple now jokes about starting a Spotify-based dating site.
Disenchanted or just plain turned off by online dating, people are finding love and romance in other corners of the internet. Platforms designed for networking, gaming, blogging, answering questions and even making lists are doing unintended double duty as matchmakers.
Now Facebook is officially getting into the act. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced recently that an optional service will allow singles to set up separate dating profiles, connecting through local events and private chats.
Neither Soji Ojugbele nor Muobo Ojugbele, who are now married, had ever dated online. They preferred meeting people at work, parties or church. Their modern love story began one day when a photo popped up on Soji’s feed on Facebook-owned Instagram, of a high-school friend with a woman he didn’t know.
He started liking her photos, prompting her to ask Soji’s high-school friend if he was single. Next came texts and a first date.
The way they met, they now say, doesn’t seem as weird to them as it does to other people.
A seamstress, lingerie designer and burlesque performer who uses the stage name Lily Faye had tried online dating sites but hadn’t had good experiences on them. She preferred, she says, “how people used to meet”—in person.
Yet when Christian Ribiat, who works in menswear and lived on the opposite side of the country, began liking and commenting on her photos on Instagram, they discovered a shared love of fashion, vintage clothing and music. They moved the conversation to Facebook, began dating, then she moved to Los Angeles, where he lives.
“What’s very funny is that he and I are very old-fashioned when it comes to dating and relationships,” she says. “I do feel better about saying I met him through Instagram than saying I met him through OkCupid.”
Social-media sites are getting better at connecting strangers through mutual interests and friends, says Brooklyn Sherman, who founded a blog and Instagram account called “The Way We Met.”
“It’s like modern-day blind dating,” she says. “Now you can just see who your friends are interacting with online and meet them that way.”
A 2010 survey of about 3,000 couples, called “How Couples Meet and Stay Together,” found that 287 of the couples had met online, nearly half of them on online dating sites. Yet 29 had met through social-networking sites not designed for matchmaking, 18 met through gaming, 54 met through internet chat and seven through community, religious or political websites.
There’s no telling where on the internet love might bloom. Food editor Lily Rose describes li.st, a now-defunct app for writing and sharing lists, as “like, the least sexual app ever.” One day, however, she noticed a funny, self-deprecating list a man named Stephen had made of his high-school ID photos through the years.
Though they lived across the country from each other, they began talking. After meeting for the first time in Chicago, they both wrote lists about it. When they later broke up, they wrote lists about that, too. Then the app went dark.
“Now we use Twitter to passive-aggressively communicate with each other,” she says, “and it’s not going as well.”
In India, arranged marriages are more common than dating, online or otherwise. Akash Khandelwal says he wasn’t expecting to meet someone on Quora, a platform where users can ask and answer questions.
In response to a question about leaving a well-paying job to do something more enjoyable, a woman named Himani Gaur had written about quitting her software-engineering job to become a teacher.
That had been Mr. Khandelwal’s dream, too, prompting the two to start communicating on Quora. Later, Quora users got an update from Ms. Gaur, who answered a question about whether couples have met on the site by revealing that she and Mr. Khandelwal were to be married.
Internet love stories often require some explaining to family and friends.
Emily Brocato and Ian Fletcher met on the blogging site Tumblr when someone Ms. Brocato followed on the site, whom Mr. Fletcher knew from high school, posted about Mr. Fletcher’s new Tumblr account. Commenting on each others’ posts led to conversations on Facebook, phone calls and texting, then long-distance dating. Now they are married.
The two say they are hesitant to explain to older people how they met, for fear of confusing them.
At first, Ms. Brocato told her father they met through a mutual friend. Once her dad met Mr. Fletcher, though, she told him the real story, she says, “so they knew he wasn’t an internet freak.”
Tumblr now has a page—“love stories of Tumblr”— featuring couples and their stories.
Some couples embrace their online roots all the way to the altar.
Ligia Carrion and her husband, Khalil Delmonte, first started talking on Twitter, where they connected over Ms. Carrion’s tech blog.
Their 2013 wedding was Twitter-themed, using its bird logo on decorations and the platform’s signature blue color as part of their wedding palette. They used a hashtag for the wedding, #bodahabibis, so their friends from Twitter could live-tweet along. And as wedding favors, they gave out little crocheted birds.


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