So you're in a bar and some guy approaches you with a lame pick-up line. "Are you OK? You just fell from Heaven." As you tell him to get lost, you ask yourself for the millionth time if there are any decent guys out there anymore.
Living in the 21st century, we have been exposed to absolutely stunning revolutions of technology - the internet, smartphones, wireless electronics, etc. These devices are mainly designed for (and utilized successfully) the use of communication with the people in our lives and others around us. We call, email, text, post statuses, video chat...the possibilities seem to be a growing list of infinity.
However, the one constant debate still alive today is whether or not we should utilize the internet for dating and meeting new people for possible relationships. You can argue for or against the idea, but whether you meet people on a dating website or in a bar, the main goal still remains the same - to meet someone, get to know them, and see if there's some kind of attraction and connection between you. Many people, especially the older generation, feel that technology is taking over our lives every day and that some things (including dating) should remain traditional. By this, they mean we should go out to bars (or other public places) to meet new people and embark upon the dating process. It's a very valid point and completely understood, even if you disagree with it.
When you meet someone in a bar, you get to see them from a distance before talking to them up close. This is a plus because if they are unattractive, you can start to think of a polite way (or not) of showing them you're not interested if they approach you. And at a bar, you are usually with your friends and therefore, you have social support there for you no matter what happens if someone approaches you or you approach someone else. If he/she digs you and you dig them, your friends understand if you want to leave the bar without them and just give you the thumbs up. If you're not into the person and they are simply not taking the hint, your friends are there to lay it down real clear for him/her to understand for you! Seems like a Win-Win situation, right? Sure.
But what about the fact that you're at a bar?!? What many of us forget when we take on this timeless and popular approach to meeting people is that you're going to a bar - where people drink, smoke, get loud, and sometimes act obnoxious. We forget, but then we usually quickly remember when we leave the bar later. It's like drinking in general - sounds good at the time, but ends up being a regretful activity afterward.
So what's the alternative? Meeting someone online may seem like a "cheap," non-personal way to enter the dating scene, but it actually can give you more insight into a person than if you were to first meet them in person as you try to get to know them better. Online dating can not only give someone the opportunity to meet new people, but many dating websites structure their service in a way so that you can filter through a database of single people using your own customized criteria for what you are looking for in a partner.
Drawing from my own experience, I will use Match.com as an example. You sign up for an account for free and you are allowed access to search the database of users, view their profiles, photos, accomplishments and goals, etc. If you want to contact someone, that's where the cleverly marketed dating website requires you to pay for the service in order to unlock the ability to contact someone you are interested in. This can and will deter many people away from websites like Match.com as they quickly jump back to Google and search for some sort of completely free dating website (free to browse AND to contact users). These websites do exist and the best part about them is...they're FREE! But, the worst part about them is...they're FREE!! The quality of the people you will find on a dating website is often very much akin to the quality of the website you are searching for single folks on. And you can also think of it this way, if a user has paid for a dating website subscription, they are often much more serious about meeting the right person than someone who has just hopped into a free dating website for "kicks."
So whichever kind of dating website you prefer, let's say you found someone on the site, and have contacted them. This is where the real power of the internet comes into play. You can contact them several times over the course of the week (hoping they are also contacting you back, of course). As you read the words of your newly found interest in dating, what you are really reading is them. You are reading their personality, how it is expressed (at least in a scribed sense), and you are getting to know them with absolutely none of the distractions you would typically find at a bar (i.e. loud music, other people, alcohol).
After on average a few days of emailing/dating website messaging with someone, you can arrange to meet up, talk on the telephone, or decide that one of you is just not interested. And the best part about the latter option becoming a reality, is that you can always go back to the search field and continue your search for a dating prospect.
If you meet up with someone, there's always the chance that they are not who they said they were and it ends up being a complete waste of your time, but people can lie to your face at a bar just as well as they can lie to you over the internet. In addition, when meeting someone for the first time, it's always best advised that you meet them in a public place to not only ensure your safety, but to also not be presumptuous of the person.
Coming from someone who has tried online dating on more than one occasion, I feel that the fear of online dating needs to be overcome by those who are not only tired of the bar scene, but also by those who are really looking to get to know someone on the real level. There's always the risk that it won't work out, but that's the risk we all take when we embark upon dating, no matter what our outlet is for meeting new people.