Almost everyone these days can name a couple they know that met on the Internet, though it wasn't so long ago that skimming the online personals for love was considered strange, even a bit desperate.Taboo or not, the practice certainly isn't new.Personal ads have a history going back at least 300 years, according to a new book on the subject entitled "Classified: The Secret History of the Personal Column" (Random House Books, 2009).Internet dating is just the modern version of the first "matrimonial" agencies of the 1700s, which helped lonely bachelors search for wives through printed ads, said author H. Cocks, a history lecturer at the University of Nottingham, UK.Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals, becoming especially popular among single servicemen, called "lonely soldiers," during World War I.
Independent Dating is part of a network of sites, so you can connect with other users to improve your chances of finding the perfect match.The personals sections of those 18th century newspapers were also useful for gay men and women to meet lovers, back when homosexuality was still illegal (it remained so in the UK until 1967).Personal ads went mainstream in the early 20th century, with expectations at a much lower level than their earlier incarnations."In Britain, the personal column was suspected (much like the Internet is now) of harboring all sorts of scams, perversities and dangerous individuals.At least that is what the police tended to think, and they only stopped prosecuting lonely hearts ads in the late 1960s — until then they often thought that they were mainly placed by prostitutes and gay men," Cocks said.The core demographic of those publicly "looking for love" has been turned on its head, with people settling down and marrying much later (if at all) in Western cultures.Internet sites tend to favor older singles, many of whom turn to the technology after a divorce or traditional forms of courtship have failed, Cocks said.Spurred on by the optimism that the New Year brings, 1 million Britons are expected to get online for a date today - the first day back in the office after the Christmas break.This time last year saw a 94 per cent increase in people singing up compared to their daily average.'In my experience, selfies on dating sites either involve the guy snapping a quick picture of himself as he loads his profile (no effort made) or stripping off in a desperate attempt to show off his buff body while trying out a moody male model look (far too much effort made)."Someone from an Irish radio station asked me whether the essence of all Internet dating ads was ' Loser seeks Winner,'" he said, "but I think those opinions are really those of younger people, [such as] those under 30 who see no need for Internet dating.Or of married people." Heather Whipps writes about history, anthropology and health for Live Science.