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By the time Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan AOL'd each other in You've Got Mail, it had become clear that the Internet was going to change every aspect of our lives forever -- including love and romance.
In 2002, Wired Magazine predicted, "Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won't look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because 'the right books are found only by accident.'" Online dating is the new norm for introductions, replacing the role of traditional personals and in many cases, merging with the functions of social media.Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities.Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, British police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture. In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world's first computer dating service.But as magazines and periodicals such as The Wedding Bell in the US and The Correspondent, Matrimonial Herald and Marriage Gazette in the UK hit the newsstands with immense popularity, matchmaking and personals took off as well, creating the first wave of true mainstream normalization for the personal ad.Late 1800s: The Scam Emerges You know, someone's always got to ruin the party.
If we are going to improve the way people meet one another, we're going to have to do so by questioning the existing paradigms of online dating and figuring out how to do it better.