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The mystery of online dating

The world of technology has taken the country by storm with the majority of people using Internet networking sites

The world of technology has taken the country by storm with the majority of people using Internet networking sites such as MySpace, Tweeter and Facebook, among other services, to access the department of romance.

Report by Winstone Antonio

With such innovation (technology), meeting someone has not only become easier than before, but also potentially more dangerous, as well.

Meeting friends and lovers at distances using social media has become an increasing trend in people’s lifestyles these days.

With almost everyone embracing social networks, research has shown that the widespread utilisation of social networks has given birth to online dating which has resulted in some smiling, while others are left disappointed.

Safety for people who use online dating sites has now become a concern, with more stories of false information being posted on profiles.

People are now manipulating their profiles to deceive others while financial scams have also become a common sight on websites. But from all of this, some individuals seem not to pay attention to such issues.

A survey conducted by NewsDay on issues of online dating showed that the trend has a lot of horror stories emerging as some men are now posing as women.

Tawanda Guzha of Chitungwiza said using online dating services to look for love had never been an easy task.

“When you go online, instead of seeing a person up-close, hearing him speak and watching him move, what you get is a postage-stamp size series of photos which can easily lie about age, complexion and physique. You end up with a lot of inaccurate details of who that person is,” he said.

Although it is less common, men have also been cheated, usually by other men posing as women.

“I was among those who preferred online dating as I regarded it as time efficient as compared to ‘traditional’ dating. The latter takes up a lot of time and effort, which I had believe a bit demanding.

“When I had to meet the partner, I discovered that he was a male despite pretending to be a woman during our message conversations. As from that day I have since distanced myself from online romance,” Brighton Gondo of Highlands narrated.

A local psychologist, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “People must not be driven crazy by the world of Internet romance which can be fraught with peril, ranging from liars to sexual predators and even murderers, who hide their motives behind seemingly innocuous virtual identities.

“However, on the other hand, for those who suffer from social anxiety or shyness, online dating can help open them up to a world that they would not have otherwise experienced. Online dating can ease a shy person into making a connection with someone else and they can control the progression of the relationship at a speed that is comfortable to them,” he said.

Emmaculate Kasirori of Borrowdale had this to say: “No one can be able to shut down the online networking world, but what is of importance is that people must have enough knowledge on how to navigate it safely.

“There is nothing wrong with online dating. I have witnessed friends and relatives who have found each other via the Internet and I have come to believe that not everyone is a predator,” she said.

Rabson Macheka of Westlea said what many people failed to realise was that online dating and social networking was a billion-dollar business, that was why he was not into it.

“I am not even on any of the social networks as I prefer real world interaction. Online dating is associated with inaccurate signals, but I have realised that some people easily go overzealous by developing a false sense of familiarity with individuals they would have only met on chat sites and through picture exchanges,” Macheka said.

Meanwhile research has shown that the perception of online dating is changing. It can still be embarrassing to some people.

The social stigma attached to those who engage in online dating can affect the self-esteem of the person dating; especially if those in their peer group do not support them or have negative perceptions of it.

The person may begin to feel less desirable because they have “resorted to online dating” while to those with a stronger or well-adjusted sense of self-esteem and self-worth, and those who are supported by their peers are unlikely to have those feelings.

For some, online dating allows them to be original. They can let others know instantly about perceived imperfections without facing rejection.